F1 demeans itself with double points gimmick

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Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Yas Marina, 2013Yesterday’s FIA announcement that double points will be awarded for the last race of 2014 was a worrying sign Formula One’s dependence on gimmicks has become an addiction.

It was met with howls of derision from F1 Fanatic readers. Over 300 comments, the vast majority of which sharply critical of the plan, appeared on the article in less than 12 hours.

Some expressed the hope that this was not a realistic proposal, merely an exercise in off-season headline-grabbing, such as the suggestion that artificial sprinklers could be used to create more wet weather races.

I am not so optimistic. The sprinklers plan was concocted solely by Bernie Ecclestone and mentioned to a few reporters to guarantee F1 a few column inches in the winter months.

But the plan to double points for the final race of the season was unanimously approved by F1’s new Strategy Group and the Formula One Commission, and rubber-stamped by Jean Todt himself.

“These changes are immediately applicable, given the mandate assigned to the FIA President at the last World Motor Sport Council meeting, held on 4 December in Paris,” the FIA press release noted. Double points for the last race of 2014 will happen unless all concerned take their sensible pills over the holidays.

The decision to devalue 18 of the 19 races on the 2014 F1 calendar was taken “to maximise focus on the championship until the end of the campaign”.

One would not have to be unduly cynical to note this unexpected rules change coincided with Abu Dhabi’s relocation to the end of the season. Have the Yas Marina circuit owners coughed up some extra money for a double-points end-of-season ‘spectacular’?

Nor should it be forgotten that the teams’ FIA entry fees are directly linked to the number of points they score. That may diminish hopes the new rule will be weeded out before the V6 engines fire up in Melbourne in 94 days’ time.

But there remains the possibility that those in charge will realise the self-defeating folly of introducing a rule purportedly to make F1 more appealing which the vast majority of fans actively dislike.

In the social media era the FIA, FOM and teams have no excuses for failing to be aware of popular opinion. The reaction against the new rule has been voluble and extremely negative.

At the time of writing 90% of almost 600 responses to this F1 Fanatic poll are against the plan: a point made by The Times in its story on the new rules*.

It sends a depressing signal that those in charge of F1 no long view it as a ‘sport’ but merely as ‘entertainment’ – something to be manipulated by any means necessary to produce a storyline.

This is why so many fans oppose the plan so strongly and will no doubt continue to put those complaints to the teams and the FIA on Twitter, Facebook and every available avenue over the coming weeks.

It is a worrying trend in the development of Formula One’s rules. When a football match ends nil-nil a cry does not go up for goals to be widened for any team which is struggling to score. Yet in DRS that was F1’s response to the difficulty of overtaking.

If a football season is decided before the concluding matches, do they increase the points for the final game? Of course not.

Those running F1 need to have the some faith in their core product, wean themselves off their addiction to gimmicks and work at the deeper problems affecting the sport. Such as the negative effect aerodynamic turbulence has always had on the racing, and why F1 has gone 18 years without a full grid of cars.

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237 comments on F1 demeans itself with double points gimmick

  1. Enigma (@enigma) said on 10th December 2013, 11:29

    I hate how F1 is so worried about entertainment. The other sports I watch don’t seem to care about that too much.

    If an alpine skier wins by two seconds, he’s applauded and admired for it. If Vettel dominates a Grand Prix, it’s boring.
    This year’s French Open final was boring and predictable, but it makes tennis fans appreciate great matches more. When Monaco or Spa are boring races, F1 needs to improve the show.
    In 2010, the football World Cup final, surely one of the most watched sporting events this century, was fairly dull. But that’s a part of the sport and, again, it makes us appreciate good matches even more.

    Very rarely is there a Grand Prix as great as Monaco ’96, Nurburgring ’99, Interlagos ’08 or Interlagos ’12. The rarity makes them even more special. F1 shouldn’t try to make them frequent through artificiality.

    • Girts (@girts) said on 10th December 2013, 13:24

      @Enigma I completely agree, we are not talking about a TV series where the producers need to invent some incredible turns of events to keep the spectators entertained. (And every TV series either ends after a few years or irreversibly loses its sanity).

    • evered7 (@evered7) said on 10th December 2013, 14:52

      But the Skier, Tennis player usually don’t hold a close to 1-sec advantage to the others in the field. That is when it is boring. If seeing Vettel go through the track as fast as he can is exciting, there need not be a race at all. We could stop on Saturday and give out the points.

      • Kelsier (@kelsier) said on 10th December 2013, 16:08

        And giving him double points for it would make it more exiting?

      • David-A (@david-a) said on 10th December 2013, 17:53

        @evered7 – Many eras of F1 have been “boring”.

      • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 10th December 2013, 18:38

        @evered7 that’s actually not true at least with skiing. Vettel type dominance does occur. Ted Ligety has won 8 of the last 10 World Cup giant slalom events and been on the podium for the other two. Alberto Tomba dominated similarly 20 years ago. That doesn’t make it boring, it makes it exciting to watch a true master in a class of his own who will be remembered long after most of his competitors have been forgotten.

      • johnny said on 10th December 2013, 23:27

        If the FIA mandated titanium skid blocks, aesthetically pleasing engine regs, and opened up the engine formula to allow for offbeat exotic designs… then yes, simply seeing the cars in action will be enough of a spectacle alone. Instead the cars look poxy and sound poxy.

        Give me a Ferrari 412T2 anyday, most beautiful F1 car in history and the last V12 monster

    • petebaldwin (@petebaldwin) said on 10th December 2013, 17:35

      @enigma – Sure, but when the skier has skis that are capable of going down the hill 10 seconds faster than the rest, it’s not so exciting….

      It doesn’t have anything to do with this double points rule though. All that would have happened in the last few years is that Vettel would have won by a greater distance!

      • evered7 (@evered7) said on 11th December 2013, 1:54

        Seconded. As much as it is exciting to watch the drivers control these high powered machine, it isn’t racing if the lead person is 20 seconds at front and having a lonely drive.

        I am not saying that giving double points will make it exciting. I am only mentioning why I find it boring.

  2. Mobeen Shafaat said on 10th December 2013, 11:30

    This came out of the blue and I’m so angry at them for this lunacy. How dare they imply that Yas Marina is twice as important as Spa, Monaco or Suzuka. This is the most damaging thing they’ve done to F1. This doesn’t even come close to the one lap qualifying we had some years ago.
    I’m totally and utterly outraged by this travesty and will never watch the last race on principal. This is coming from someone who has rarely missed a race since his teenage years (now in late thirties).
    I hate to say it but Bernie is loosing it, so are the teams. First the bloody turbo/electric engines and now this!
    What the hell is going on, I’m so very sad.

  3. Casanova (@casanova) said on 10th December 2013, 11:37

    I’m aware I seem to be against the grain, but I think this is a great idea. Interest is heightened in the last race of the season because of what is still up for grabs in the championship. So in the last race of 2013, we were mainly focussing on Mercedes v Ferrari v Lotus for 2/3/4 in the constructors’ championship, and who might get 3rd in the drivers’ championship.

    With double points for the last race, so much more remains undecided until later in the season. Battles for places in both championships will last longer into the season, and be more intense in the final round. There is less incentive for teams to sap the life from the closing stages of the season by just going through the motions as they focus on the next year’s car.

    • matt90 (@matt90) said on 10th December 2013, 14:42

      You used 2013 as an example, but you didn’t say what extra intrigue there would be.

    • It will be effective at raising interest in the final race of the season, and will make the season potentially go longer before a WDC is decided. However, it is the fact that this is being achieved in such a contrived, artificial and gimmicky which is making people, myself included, so angry.

  4. Brian (@bealzbob) said on 10th December 2013, 11:43

    I’ve been following F1 from about 1983. I’d like to think I’m a hardcore fan and I’m also somewhat of a traditionalist/purist. I have never had a problem with the technical advancements because that’s what F1 is all about. I’ve always believed that if F1’s critics want a level playing field then go and watch GP2 or Formula Ford.

    However where I draw the line is with artificial racing and gimmicks. I’ve been a constant and vocal critic of DRS and I’ve always been utterly baffled by the amount of F1 fans (not to mention prominent pundits) who were and still are ambivalent towards it as a solution. For me it was an affront to racing and a blatant shortcut around fixing the underlying problem of overtaking and ‘dirty air’. But for a reason I still can’t explain, people bought it and accepted it as an ‘entertaining’ solution.

    It now looks as though DRS served 2 purposes. Not only has it made for artificial overtaking but it now appears to have set a precedent for gimmicks and desensitized the fans towards that kind of ************ from the FIA happening a 2nd time.

    This is about trying to keep the championship going until the final race. Or to put it another way, it’s a fix for a short-term problem of Red Bull dominance. They tried to do the same thing when Schumacher was cleaning up by changing the points system to 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 and damn near made a balls of the WDC where Raikkonen nearly took it the following year with a string of 2nd places. But the era of dominance ended and now they’ve fixed the points again. But it seems they haven’t learned.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. My support and love for F1 is not unconditional. They’ve been walking a fine line for a while now and I think this is now the tipping point. I do not want to watch an F1 that treats its fans like this. I do not want to waste my Sunday afternoon watching a ‘sport’ that has become so rotten that it no longer fixes its problems, it invents gimmicky workarounds to keep the playstation-generation fan from turning over. Well done. You’ll keep those fans but you’ll lose me and I expect many others like me.

    I’m still hopeful this will be dumped. I kind of expect that it will be dumped because I think even the FIA aren’t that moronically out of touch with the fan that they’ll proceed with it. If they do, I’ll be back. If they don’t, then I’ll make a point of not watching a second of next season. And who knows, I might even enjoy the break and extend it.

  5. PhilEReid (@philereid) said on 10th December 2013, 11:56

    Don’t worry guys, the FIA will make this right by adding ballast to the top 5 cars! (Sarcasm).

    • Brian (@bealzbob) said on 10th December 2013, 14:12

      :-D Don’t even joke about it ! Given that it’s common-place in other formulae, I’m surprised it hasn’t been given a second thought for F1. By the fact it is elsewhere, it would even be seen as less of a gimmick than the double points *gulp*.

  6. Remember the idea to change the points system to a medals system? That was scrapped because the teams disagreed. I haven’t seen anything from any teams yet about this.

    • GeorgeTuk (@georgetuk) said on 10th December 2013, 12:55

      They agreed with it. Not sure why but they have to (via strategy group) otherwise it cannot become a rule.

      Medals was a bit of a Bernie boiler to distract from other things happening

  7. Jem (@osella) said on 10th December 2013, 12:06

    is this an example of the politically most powerful team in F1 flexing its hooves?

  8. Tayyib (@m0nzaman) said on 10th December 2013, 12:10

    I dont get why there trying to dilute the sport with silly gimmicks. Its not as if this is a new racing category that needs a USP of sorts. It isn’t a lower racing category that needs a gimmick. This is F1, THE pinnacle of open wheel racing and THE pinnacle of motor racing. We watch it because the worlds best racers go head to head on the worlds greatest tracks, racing for the some of the greatest car companies in the world. We dont watch for needless gimmicks and rules. Whats next we get to vote for our favourite driver to save them from elimination.

  9. jochenrindt78 said on 10th December 2013, 12:14

    Shall we all boycott the final race next year?

    of course I’ll download it from a torrent site the day after so as to only negate the tv viewing figures, the likely outcome is vettel or whoever will win by a bigger margin anyway so we probably won’t miss much…it’s about time F1 catered for the hardcore petrol head fans first!

  10. raddie (@raddie) said on 10th December 2013, 12:18

    If we want double points, so give hem for real tracks like Spa, Monza on Silverstone, not for boring gulf kartdrome….

  11. Patrick (@paeschli) said on 10th December 2013, 12:24

    I don’t think DRS and KERS is good for the entertainment either.

    At the last race, my mother watched F1 with me, something she never does. I had to explain how DRS worked and why some cars receive an advantage to overtake the guy in front. It took me long to explain the KERS concept too. Does making the sport more difficult to follow as a casual viewer any good to the viewing figures? I don’t think so …

  12. V. Chris (@vasschu) said on 10th December 2013, 12:31

    I still can’t understand how such gimmick will improve the show.
    It may keep the fight to the final race in one boring dominant season, but in the same way it can destroy great, close title fight. I can’t believe this, season 2010 would have been for Sebastian even without the wrong strategy from Ferrari. The title in Brazil 2008 was decided few corners before the chequered flag, whit this gimmick Massa was going to be champion leading the race from start to end – where the …. is the excitement in this??
    Even the final in 2012 was going to be destroyed and i think this was the best race i have ever watched, my heart nearly gave up back then. Alonso was going to be champion because Hulk rammed HAM, and after VET had his large amount of misfortune? But like this wasn’t enough lets give and more points too… I don’t know why FIA don’t quadruple the points. You know, that way even 2013 final would be interesting. Really, is this the way we want to crown our champions?
    Thanks, but no thanks.

  13. James (@jaymz) said on 10th December 2013, 12:39

    I quite like it. It means the teams will have an incentive to keep developing their car right to the last race. It’s not a gimmick, it’s just another points system change.

    There should be more things like this. F1 is what it is and it’s going to be this way for a while so lets got in there and spice it up.

    If you don’t like the way it has become then remember to cancel your sky subscription and don’t watch the race. But I guess you complained last year and the year before but still watched all the races!

    • Metallion (@metallion) said on 10th December 2013, 13:23

      @jaymz
      This incentive to keep developing the car until the end is something that will favor the big teams with enough resources to develop both the current car and next year’s car. The small teams will still have to switch focus to next year’s car at some point. Perhaps towards the end of the year we’ll see even larger gaps between teams as the big teams continue to develop aggressively while the smaller teams back off.

      It’s not just another points system change. Points have always been given out equally over the calendar. Choosing one race to hand out double the amount is unfair and unsporting.

      • James (@jaymz) said on 10th December 2013, 14:08

        It’s not just the big teams fighting for points. In fact it might be even more of an incentive for the smaller teams who score the lowly points.

        I wish people would give up on this big team hating. All the while supporting one I bet. Yes it’s a bit unfair that a smaller team can’t really compete for championships but there is still money to be won even when you score no points at all. And being a big team is on guarantee you will be successfull in winning a championship, but if you have a good business plan then you can still go racing and even make a bit of money.

    • bull mello (@bullmello) said on 10th December 2013, 16:44

      The teams and drivers already had plenty of incentive to make a good showing all the way through the last race. Teams and drivers are always looking to score more points for WCC and WDC. Many championship races throughout the field are not decided until the last race, even without extra points. Also, drivers trying to get rides for the next season are keen to do well to impress prospective teams.

  14. Deej92 (@deej92) said on 10th December 2013, 12:41

    Well said Keith. I hope the FIA realise how disliked this gimmick is and act despite the extra money they’re getting from Abu Dhabi, because let’s be honest, this wouldn’t be happening if the finale was in Brazil.

    Just think how hollow the title victory would be if the winner gains say 49 points on the leader at the last race due to the other having an engine failure, for example. They wouldn’t be the real champion in many people’s eyes.

    The decision needs to be overturned for F1 to retain some credibility.

  15. OmarR-Pepper (@omarr-pepper) said on 10th December 2013, 12:58

    I know we will be seen as the grumpy oldmen opposed to change, (I’m 29) but this is so much. I’ll see re-runs if they stay with this rule. If the 2014 champion clinches it due to this rule, I will not consider him that way, not even if it’s Vettel himself who gets benefitted from it.

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