Singapore GP: How close is Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel to an F1 ban?

Vettel
The Singapore Grand Prix is live on 5 Live and the BBC Sport website at 13:10 BST

It hasn't been a good season for Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel. Actually, make that two seasons.

In 2018 he had the fastest car but too many errors helped Lewis Hamilton win his fifth world title.

And the errors have continued into this year - in fact, they've got worse.

Last season, he was given penalty points on his super licence - which a driver needs to race in F1 - at the United States Grand Prix.

The German has been racking them up ever since and his tally now stands at nine. If a driver hits 12 penalty points over a 12-month period, they automatically trigger a one-race ban.

This isn't football, where taking a ban is as regular an occurrence as a mis-timed sliding tackle. In fact, F1 race bans have been handed out only four times in the past 25 years.

So it's little wonder Vettel is under such scrutiny - after all, this is a four-time world champion with 12 years' experience under his belt. This is not what we have come to expect from him - particularly during those incredible years of dominance with Red Bull between 2010 and 2013.

But here we are, and if Vettel acquires three more points over the next three races - or five points between now and June 2020 as two of his current points will expire on 19 October this year - he will incur a ban.

So he has a quite few races to keep his nose clean.

Here's the rap sheet so far...

Sebastian Vettel 2018 US GP two points
In 2018 Vettel was given points in Austin - in practice
Sebastian Vettel Canadian GP two points
Into 2019, and we all remember the German's reaction to being given a time penalty during the race which Hamilton subsequently won. Vettel made a mistake, left the track and rejoined in a way which blocked Hamilton, leading to furious protests by Vettel, and the bizarre re-ordering of finishing position signs under the podium. Awkward
Sebastian Vettel two penalty points British GP
Steaming in: At Silverstone Vettel careered straight into Max Verstappen. It's not the first time two of the sport's more hot-headed characters have come together - 100% the more experienced man's fault, though
Sebastian Vettel three penalty points Italian GP
At Monza, in front of Ferrari's tifosi, he spun his Ferrari at the Ascari chicane. Like anyone who does something silly in public, such as tripping on a manhole cover, we all want to get moving again quickly. But this is F1 - you kind of have to wait for some very fast cars to go by first. Except Vettel didn't want to, punting Lance Stroll's Racing Point off the circuit "like an idiot", to quote the Canadian

History lesson

Those aforementioned race bans in the past 25 years?

Michael Schumacher - 1994

schumacher 1994
In 1994 Michael Schumacher ignored a black flag given to him for overtaking Damon Hill on the formation lap at the British Grand Prix. A two-race ban was eventually issued - and he still won the title

Eddie Irvine - 1994

Eddie Irvine
Eddie Irvine was deemed the guilty party in a spectacular four-car crash at the season-opening 1994 Brazilian Grand Prix, forcing Jos Verstappen on to the grass as they came up to lap Eric Bernard, with the ensuing chaos also collecting the McLaren of Martin Brundle. A one-race ban was appealed by Irvine's Jordan team, but the FIA was in no mood to be lenient and in fact increased the penalty to three races

Mika Hakkinen - 1994

Mika Hakkinen
Back to 1994 again and the German Grand Prix was the scene of the third and final race ban to be doled out that year, when McLaren's Mika Hakkinen triggered an accident with future team-mate David Coulthard heading into the first corner, collecting several other cars. The Finn was already racing under the threat of a ban after a crash with Rubens Barrichello at the British GP, and this incident forced the FIA to act

Romain Grosjean - 2012

grosjean
"Coming throoooooough": Romain Grosjean, the man who has just had his contract renewed at Haas, got off to a real flyer at the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix - promptly landing on Fernando Alonso, earning himself a chance to watch the Italian GP from the sofa

Top Stories