Sebastian Vettel three penalty points off a race ban

BAKU, Azerbaijan -- Sebastian Vettel is just three penalty points away from a one-race ban after his controversial collision with Lewis Hamilton at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The two championship leaders collided ahead of the race's second Safety Car restart after Vettel, who was second to Hamilton at the time, hit the back of the Mercedes on the exit of Turn 15. Vettel believed Hamilton had brake tested him and then drew alongside his title rival before turning in on him.

The resulting collision earned Vettel a ten-second stop-go penalty as well as three penalty points on his superlicence, taking his total to nine over a 12-month period. Under the regulations, if a driver gets 12 points within 12 months, his superlicence would be suspended for one race.

However, Vettel will have more margin for error following the Austrian Grand Prix in two weeks' time as two of his penalty points are due to expire the following Monday, leaving him five off a ban until the day after the Malaysian Grand Prix when the next two are due to expire.

Vettel has the most penalty points of any driver on the grid, with Carlos Sainz and Jolyon Palmer tied on seven as the next closest.

The Ferrari driver went on to finish fourth following his penalty while Hamilton had to settle for fifth after a loose head race forced an unscheduled pit stop.