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What's The Point?



31 MAR - 03 APR 2016

If the powers that be have their way, the end of the 2014 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season will have a novel twist to it.

The F1 Strategy Group and the Formula 1 Commission recently announced a plan to award double points for the final race of the season, which at this time is scheduled for Abu Dhabi on November 23.

Behind this initiative, apparently, is the desire to “maximize focus on the Championship until the end of the campaign”, i.e. to ensure that the title race remains alive right up to the final laps of a long and gruelling season.

Also behind it is the fact that one Sebastian Vettel has made a habit of turning the championship into a one-horse race, as he certainly did in 2011 and 2013 – nine race wins in a row will do it every time.

But many F1 fans – inside the paddock and outside – feel the points system is already too generous.

Through the first decade of the World Championship, 1950-59, the system allowed eight points to the race winner, then 6-4-3-2 to the next four places. An additional point was on offer to the driver who set fastest race lap.

From 1961 through 1990 it changed to 9-6-4-3-2-1 for the first six finishers, with no bonus point for fastest lap.

In 1991 we switched to 10-6-4-3-2-1; then in 2003 the distribution stretched down to eighth place, 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1.

Four seasons ago came radical change: the winner would take 25 points, the top 10 would score and the allocation would be 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1.

That was already offensive to some purists. Our own Mark Webber built his F1 career on the respect he had for men like Sir Jack Brabham; to him it was ridiculous that he should overhaul and pass the great Australian’s point tally because of this skewed system.

Jack, as he then was, scored a total of 253 points; Mark scored 258 in 2011 alone…

To his credit, the current World Champion himself has described the new plan as “absurd”, adding – rightly – that it penalizes those who have worked hard all year to accrue an advantage.

“I value the old traditions in Formula 1,” Vettel told German paper Sport Bild, “and I do not understand this new rule.”

Other measures proposed by the two bodies include a new system of numbering. At present teams use the numbers 1-23 (superstition prevents the use of #13) based on the teams’ positions in the previous year’s Constructors’ Championship.

What is now proposed is that #1 be reserved, as it now is, for the reigning World Champion; but the remaining drivers are asked to choose their preferred number, between 2 and 99. If two or more opt for the same number it will be given to the man who finished highest among them the previous season.

What’s the point? To allow drivers to ‘maximise’ opportunities for the sale on the cars in the first place…

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