Additional reporting by Ewan Gale
AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost has insisted Pierre Gasly is not a dangerous driver and conceded he was "shocked" by the accumulation of penalty points by the Frenchman.
Gasly finished the season with the most penalty points against his super licence of any driver in F1 following a string of innocuous incidents that included falling further than 10 car lengths behind a rival ahead under safety car conditions.
But the most notable incident came when Gasly, incensed by the FIA's decision to allow a recovery vehicle onto the circuit in Japan in treacherous weather, raced back to the pits during a red-flag period.
Gasly's accumulated total of 10 points means the 2020 Italian Grand Prix winner will be walking a tightrope for the first seven races of his Alpine debut campaign next year after which points will finally start to be erased from his licence.
"He is absolutely not a dangerous driver," said, speaking in an end-of-season interview with GPFans.
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“He was a little bit unlucky to come into this situation. Starting with Suzuka, of course, the driver is shocked.
"He lost his very good friend [Jules Bianchi] just a few years earlier with an accident, also with a tractor out on the race track, then the bad weather conditions.
"Everything came together.
“Pierre, normally, is a driver who has a very good overview, who does not risk so much, who's not a dangerous driver in absolutely any way.
“Therefore, I was personally shocked that within a few races, we came to this strange position, just two points away from a race penalty.
“Unbelievable for a driver who really takes care and who is not aggressive.”