Motor racing-Russell sees a positive in potential F1 driver ban

Formula One F1 - Emilia Romagna Grand Prix - Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola, Italy - May 17, 2024 Mercedes' George Russell arrives ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix REUTERS/Ciro De Luca

IMOLA, Italy (Reuters) - Formula One's penalty point system could benefit young hopefuls if it leads to a regular driver incurring a one race ban, according to Mercedes' George Russell.

The subject is topical after Haas's Kevin Magnussen reached 10 penalty points in the space of six races with 12 in a 12 month period triggering a suspension.

With the season now at a record 24 rounds there is more jeopardy, with the limit remaining unchanged despite the calendar expansion.

Russell, a director of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association, told reporters at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix that he did not think anything necessarily needed changing.

"If you look over the last 20 years I don't know how many drivers have been given a race ban. I can only think of one there's been in 20 years. In a football game people get red cards quite regularly," he said.

"You can look at it saying there'd be an opportunity for a young driver to show what they are capable of if a driver is deserving of a race ban. Maybe a race ban is a bit harsh but things shouldn't go unpunished."

French driver Romain Grosjean was banned for a race in 2012, the first driver to be suspended since Michael Schumacher in 1994, after causing a first corner pileup in Belgium that eliminated a quarter of the field.

Several drivers have missed races due to illness or injury, with British teenager Oliver Bearman standing in at Ferrari in Saudi Arabia this season after Spaniard Carlos Sainz suffered appendicitis.

Bearman would also be the backup choice if Magnussen collects more penalty points that push him over the limit.

Magnussen started the season on zero penalty points but the Dane collected a fistful in Miami this month with what he himself called 'stupid tactics' to help team mate Nico Hulkenberg score.

The Haas driver recognised he might have to change his approach.

"I think the next time it's a race ban, so I think I'll have to, but I don't know. I think these situations where I've had to play the support role for my team mate, they have been paying off, so it's been kind of valuable to us," he said at Imola.

"I think the fact that I'm at risk of a race ban for driving outside of some white lines on a piece of tarmac, I don't know if I feel that that is right, but it is the way the rules are, so I accept that.

"There are more races now than there were back when they (the rules) were introduced, and I feel you can end up getting a race ban effectively for a very minor thing."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)

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