In the high-octane world of Formula 1, drivers live on the edge, pushing the limits of both their skills and the rules that govern the sport. However, Williams driver Alex Albon believes that the existing penalty of five seconds for causing a collision in Formula 1 is not adequate, as it fails to effectively teach drivers a lesson.
Albon’s comments stem from a recent incident at the Singapore Grand Prix, where he found himself in a collision with Red Bull driver Sergio Perez. The collision sent Albon into a spin, ultimately costing him a valuable points finish. It was a harsh reminder of the risks drivers face on the track.
Speaking of Perez, the Mexican driver was involved in not one but two separate incidents during the Japanese Grand Prix. The first incident occurred during the opening lap, when he collided with Lewis Hamilton. The second incident, in lap 12, involved Haas driver Kevin Magnussen, who was taken out by Perez. In both cases, Perez received a five-second penalty for his actions.
However, many within the Formula 1 community, including Albon, argue that these penalties do not seem to deter risky behavior on the track. Despite his five-second penalty in Singapore, Perez still managed to secure P8 in the Grand Prix. In Japan, he ended up with a Did Not Finish (DNF) due to the double contact, but Red Bull exploited an FIA loophole. They sent him back onto the track to serve the five-second penalty, ensuring that it did not result in a grid drop in the subsequent Qatar Grand Prix.
Albon is among those who believe that the current soft penalties fail to effectively discourage drivers from engaging in risky moves. When asked about Perez’s repeated offenses in Japan, he expressed his concerns, stating, “I think it’s clear that the current penalties are not enough to make drivers think twice before making aggressive moves.”
Kevin Magnussen, the Danish driver who fell victim to Perez’s actions in Japan, shared his frustration over the incident, highlighting the impact such collisions can have on a driver’s race. He remarked, “These incidents can ruin not only your race but also your entire weekend. It’s essential for the sport to address this issue.”
“In Turn 11 he did the same move again to me on track today.
“I avoided it. And then he did it again to Kevin. I was behind him, so I had the best view of everyone.
“And so clearly it’s not really teaching the drivers anything, because the penalties aren’t strict enough. I mean, that’s two races in a row.”
Acknowledging the pressing need for reform, George Russell, Director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, emphasized that the issue of penalties in Formula 1 requires immediate attention. He added, “We need to strike a balance between fair competition and ensuring that drivers understand the consequences of their actions.”
“I just got spun around there by Perez, and it ruined our race.
“We had to pit, and that was too early for the two-stop strategy that we had, and the tyre degradation that we had. It was just too early to pit then. But we had to.
“I think he’s penalising himself, there’s a natural penalty for him doing that.
“It doesn’t look good for him, but it is what it is. We’re racing. He was in a shitty position, and he made a shitty move.”
As Formula 1 continues to evolve, the discussion around penalties for on-track incidents is likely to gain momentum. Drivers, team principals, and fans alike will be watching closely to see if changes are implemented to promote safer and more responsible racing.
“When I look at Austin last year when I made a mistake with Carlos [Sainz] and I got a five-second for it, that was really drive-through worthy.
“And it’s difficult, because we always say that we shouldn’t judge the consequence of the incident, but sometimes you need to judge the consequence of the incident. So I’ll need to review.”