Alpine driver Pierre Gasly faces a dangerous two weeks as he attempts to avoid a race ban. Formula 1 returns to Azerbaijan and the Baku City Circuit for what is set to be a testing weekend for drivers and teams at the first Sprint event of the season, before another street race in Miami a week later. With Gasly sitting just two penalty points shy of a race ban, having accrued 10 on his Super Licence, can he escape without incident? Sprint complication F1’s penalty point system dictates that any driver that picks up 12 points in a 12-month rolling period will earn a ban. Gasly sits atop the tree of drivers in terms of points accumulated and will not lose any until May 22. Serious infringements, such as instigating crashes or failing to follow Safety Car and red flag procedure will result in two points being added to his licence. With the narrow confines of two street circuits facing Gasly, the Frenchman faces a high degree of danger in ensuring he keeps his seat for the upcoming races. In Baku, for instance, Safety Cars and red flags are commonplace, and if Gasly is not the driver causing race neutralisations, he will surely be taking no chances with his speed and distance to the cars ahead behind Bernd Maylander. The task has been complicated by the additional 100km of racing to take in during the Sprint weekend in the Azerbaijani capital and it will be interesting to see how aggressive Gasly will be, especially having escaped punishment-free from his collision with teammate Esteban Ocon in Australia last time out. Positives to draw If there is a positive to draw for Gasly heading into the next two weekends, it would be that none of the 10 points gathered thus far have been for incidents at street circuits. Three points were collected at last year’s Austrian Grand Prix, and mitigation for his speeding under red flags at the Japanese Grand Prix can be found when acknowledging the rush of blood in the wake of passing a recovery vehicle on track in horrendous conditions. The fact Gasly has escaped a ban since collecting his 10th point in Mexico six races ago proves he is capable of keeping out of trouble, but do not underestimate the challenge facing the 2020 Italian Grand Prix winner. A chaotic Azerbaijan weekend would not have been on the top of Gasly’s list of circuits to negotiate when dodging the race ban. Time will tell whether he can keep his nose clean.

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