How has F1 penalised pushing off track? Penalties, warnings and more


Drivers and fans alike have been asking for more consistency in stewarding decisions in the wake of the Max Verstappen vs Lewis Hamilton battle in Brazil, but how have the FIA typically penalised drivers for off-track excursions?

Max Verstappen v Lewis Hamilton, Brazil 2021 – no investigation

While some incidents are controversial for the penalties handed out, there are times when debate is fuelled for no action being taken at all.

That was the case at the 2021 Brazilian Grand Prix when Max Verstappen ran wide and forced title rival Lewis Hamilton off the track as they fought for the lead on lap 48.

Hamilton had just drafted past his rival on the straight and was on the outside at the end of the straight, when Verstappen braked late and attempted to retake the spot.

The Dutchman ran wide and left Hamilton with nowhere to go, but F1 race director Michael Masi decided no offence had been triggered because he just considered it hard racing.

Mercedes did ask the FIA to a right to review the incident, based on newly released on-board footage from Verstappen, but this was rejected.

Max Verstappen v Lewis Hamilton at Monza, Italian GP 2021 – three-place grid penalty for following race

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, walks away from his damaged car

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, walks away from his damaged car

Photo by: Jerry Andre / Motorsport Images

One of the most iconic images of the 2021 F1 title battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen is of the collision the pair had at Monza’s first chicane, as their cars ended up on top of each other.

Hamilton and Verstappen had been battling for position after the pit stops when they ran side-by-side into Monza’s tight opening corner sequence. Verstappen attempted to go around the outside of Hamilton at the first right hander and, as he was squeezed towards the kerb, he tried to muscle inside Hamilton at the following left-hand element.

But, when Hamilton stood his ground and turned in, Verstappen bounced off the kerb and up and over the top of the Mercedes car as they both ended up in the gravel trap.

The stewards ruled that Verstappen was to blame for the accident as he had never been alongside Hamilton enough to be given any right to racing room. He was given a three-place grid penalty for the following race in Russia.

Lewis Hamilton v Max Verstappen, British GP 2021 – ten-second penalty

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W12

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W12

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Tempers between 2021’s title protagonists flared a first time at the British Grand Prix when Lewis Hamilton made a move on leading Max Verstappen going into the ultra-fast Copse right-hander.

As Verstappen closed the door, Hamilton touched the Dutchman’s rear quarter, sending the Red Bull into a spin which ended in a heavy crash into the tyre barriers.

Hamilton was judged to have been ‘predominantly’ to blame for the accident as he had run wide from the apex. The Briton received a 10-second penalty but still managed to win the race regardless, which angered Red Bull.

George Russell v Carlos Sainz, British GP Sprint Race 2021 – three-place grid penalty

Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari SF21, George Russell, Williams FW43B

Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari SF21, George Russell, Williams FW43B

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

In Silverstone’s sprint race, Williams driver George Russell was hit with a three-place grid penalty for next day’s British Grand Prix for forcing Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz off the track.

The pair stormed towards Brooklands side by side on Lap 1, with Russell understeering into the path of Sainz on his outside after locking up his brakes.

It forced Sainz into the run-off area and cost the Spaniard several positions. The stewards said Russell was entirely to blame for the incident, and handed him a three-place grid penalty for the main race on Sunday.

Lando Norris v Sergio Perez – Austrian GP 2021 – five-second penalty

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB16B,Lando Norris, McLaren MCL35M

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB16B,Lando Norris, McLaren MCL35M

Photo by: Erik Junius

The 2021 Austrian Grand Prix saw Lando Norris pick up a five-second penalty for forcing Sergio Perez off track.

As the pair entered turn four, Norris had the inside, with Perez slightly ahead on the outside. As the pair went through the right-hander Norris was slightly ahead at the apex, and started to move across to the outside of the circuit.

Perez meanwhile had started to accelerate earlier, trying to maintain the outside line and hold position. Norris ran out to the kerb on the racing line, forcing Perez off into the gravel and causing him to lose positions.

Norris was handed a five-second penalty for having forced Perez off-track.

Lewis Hamilton v Alex Albon, Austrian GP 2020 – five-second penalty

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W11 EQ Performance, battles with Alex Albon, Red Bull Racing RB16

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W11 EQ Performance, battles with Alex Albon, Red Bull Racing RB16

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

A handful of races after their previous collision in Brazil, for which Lewis Hamilton was hit with a five-second penalty, Hamilton and Alex Albon collided again in the 2020 Austrian Grand Prix.

Albon overtook Hamilton around the outside of Turn 4, but the pair clashed wheels, which sent the Red Bull driver spinning off into the gravel. Hamilton was again deemed at fault and received a five-second penalty.

Charles Leclerc v Max Verstappen, Austrian GP, 2019 – no action necessary

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB15, collides with Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF90

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB15, collides with Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF90

Photo by: Lorenzo Bellanca / Motorsport Images

With the last three laps of the race upon them second-placed Max Verstappen got a run on Charles Leclerc out of the first turn, braked late and was on the inside of Leclerc entering turn 3.

Verstappen drove straight during the first part of the corner, missed the apex and ran to the edge of the track – causing wheel-to-wheel contact with Leclerc, who was forced off the track and over a sausage kerb, losing time and the position.

Verstappen went on to take the win, with a fuming Charles Leclerc finishing second.

As it happened so late in the race the incident was reviewed afterwards, with the stewards ultimately deciding that neither driver was “wholly or predominantly to blame” for the incident.

Daniel Ricciardo v Lando Norris/Kimi Raikkonen, French GP 2019 – two five-second penalties

Daniel Ricciardo, Renault F1 Team R.S.19

Daniel Ricciardo, Renault F1 Team R.S.19

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Daniel Ricciardo had finished seventh for Renault in the 2019 French Grand Prix but was given two separate five-second penalties by the stewards shortly afterwards that dropped him to 11th.

The first sanction was because the stewards felt he had forced Lando Norris off track in their battle on the Mistral Straight’s chicane on the final lap.

Ricciardo had attempted to go around the outside at the chicane, but went in too fast and washed out off the track. As he returned, Norris had to take avoiding action to prevent a collision.

The Australian was given a five-second penalty for having rejoined the track in an unsafe manner and forcing another driver off track.

Shortly afterwards, Ricciardo got a run on Kimi Raikkonen and passed the Alfa Romeo driver – but to do so he ran across the white line that marks the edge of the track. The stewards gave a second sanction for leaving the track and gaining an advantage.

Sebastian Vettel v Lewis Hamilton, Canadian GP 2019 – five-second penalty

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF90, leads Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W10

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF90, leads Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W10

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Sebastian Vettel had a narrow lead over Lewis Hamilton in the 2019 Canadian Grand Prix, with the Brit seemingly able to catch but not overtake the German.

With the pair fighting through traffic and in a race of their own, it looked like Vettel could maintain the race win. That was, until lap 48.

Vettel made an error going into the chicane at turns three and four, cutting across the grass for the latter corner and re-joining the track in a way that pushed Hamilton against the wall on the outside of the corner. Vettel stayed ahead on track while Hamilton was forced to back off and remain behind.

While the incident went unpunished for nine laps, a penalty was issued on lap 57, giving Vettel a five-second time penalty for an unsafe re-entry and forcing another driver off the track.

This was because the white line, which dictates the dimensions of the track and is around one car’s width away from the wall on the outside of the track, meaning that when Vettel re-joined the track and pushed Hamilton up to the wall, he’d technically forced Hamilton off the circuit.

The penalty infuriated the German, who was able to hold Hamilton off for the remainder of the race for an on-track win (though he was dropped to second place with the penalty).

Nico Rosberg v Lewis Hamilton, Austria 2016 – five-second penalty

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes-Benz F1 W07 Hybrid and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-Benz F1 W07 Hybrid collide on the last lap

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes-Benz F1 W07 Hybrid and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-Benz F1 W07 Hybrid collide on the last lap

Photo by: Sutton Images

The 2016 season was a bitter battle between Mercedes teammates Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton. While the pair had already made contact in the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix, the 2016 Austrian Grand Prix would see yet more.

On the final lap of the race, Hamilton got a run on Rosberg out of the first corner, chasing him up the hill and diving to the outside of the track for turn three.

By the time they reached the braking zone, Hamilton was almost a car’s length in front of Rosberg, though as the pair entered the corner Rosberg braked late and ran straight, not making an effort to reach the apex.

The pair collided, with Hamilton being forced off track while Rosberg remained ahead. He stayed at the edge of the track, preventing Hamilton from re-joining. However he’d picked up damage in the process – breaking his front wing in the collision.

Hamilton would go on to win the race while Rosberg fell down the order, finishing in fourth place. He was then handed a ten-second penalty for causing contact with Hamilton, though this wouldn’t make any difference to his final finishing position.

Additional reporting by Tom Jeffries.

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