Pierre Gasly could face Grand Prix ban as uncharted territory looms

Italian Grand Prix: Pierre Gasly reacts to winning his first title

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Pierre Gasly could be one incident away from triggering a previously untouched Grand Prix ban after picking up more penalty points in the United States. The AlphaTauri star finished outside the points in Austin as an incident-packed race saw several drivers punished. 

F1 rules indicate that if any driver picks up 12 or more penalty points during a year-long period, they will receive a one-race ban. Gasly took his own haul to nine at Circuit of the Americas as he lagged more than 10 car lengths behind the safety car, which saw him handed two more points and a five-second penalty. 

Now within three points of the crucial mark, one more incident could see the Frenchman trigger a ban that no other driver has done before. Gasly’s points total got off the mark at the Spanish Grand Prix back in May as he was penalised for a collision with Lance Stroll. 

Two months later, he accumulated more thanks to contact with Stroll’s Aston Martin team-mate, Sebastian Vettel, and exceeding track limits. 

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After a clean run, Gasly’s penalty points haul has once again started to creep up over the past few weeks as speeding behind the safety car in Japan saw him punished. Finally, the incident in Texas, which some deemed to be unlucky as the car in front of him rapidly accelerated, giving him little time to react, bumped him up to nine. 

A gripping contest saw five other stars penalised with Stroll, George Russell, Mick Schumacher, Nicholas Latifi and Alex Albon all picking up penalty points in the US. It was a frustrating afternoon for Gasly as he crossed the line in 13th with his team-mate, Yuki Tsunoda, squeezing into the points. 

Gasly’s AlphaTauri career is now winding down with just three Grands Prix remaining this season. The 26-year-old has already agreed to replace Fernando Alonso at Alpine, where he will partner Esteban Ocon in 2023, and outgoing Mercedes reserve driver Nyck de Vries will take his place alongside Tsunoda. 

“Driving for a team that has French roots is something very special,” said Gasly after his move was confirmed. “I know the strengths of Alpine having raced against them over the past couple of years and, clearly, their progress and ambition is very impressive.”

Further up the field at Circuit of the Americas, Max Verstappen clinched his 13th victory of the season by passing Lewis Hamilton in the final few laps. A slow pit stop looked to have scuppered his chances of victory but Mercedes had no answer to Red Bull’s imperious straight-line speed. 

Solid points for Sergio Perez in P4 comfortably gave Red Bull enough to mathematically clinch the Constructors’ Championship, ending an eight-year run of Mercedes dominance. Tributes were paid by Gasly and others to Red Bull owner Dietrich Matechitz, who passed away on Saturday aged 78. 

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