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. It’s rather comical that FIA and the like are so worried about the entertainment value for a bunch of people who think F1 is boring. So to please them, maybe making them watch a few races. Heck even a whole season. But at the same time they push the long term fans away from the sport.
    F1 is a solid sport. It works. It has it’s flaws, yes. Try to fix that.
    If someone bumped into Jean Tod’s car, would he, instead of fixing the damage, cover his whole car up in bubble wrap and duct tape to stop it from happening again? No. Because then it would be useless as a car. But it’s what’s happening to F1 at the moment. To fix a couple of flaws, they are making EVERYTHING worse. Instead of focusing on ACTUALLY fixing the problem.

  2. Manalive said on 10th December 2013, 15:32

    Is it a bad idea? Yes.

    Is it worse than DRS? No. Actually, I’d welcome this with open arms, if it was traded in for the end of DRS. Why? This rule affects the championship, but it doesn’t affect the racing!

  3. TeamJeremia said on 10th December 2013, 15:32

    Double points in the last race should also mean double the distance with my logic. Some reason more to promote the last race importance than the “keep the championship alive”-reason should be good to have to give the change more acceptance.

  4. Gerdoner (@gerdoner) said on 10th December 2013, 15:52

    I’ve got an idea for the FIA:
    Why don’t you do double points for every race? It adds value for every race ;)

    Think about it and if you choose to use the idea I’ll hand in an invoice :)

  5. My main problem with the double points idea is that it doesn’t solve anything or really caters to a need. It adds an element of uncertainty, sure, but that isn’t a good thing in business, while the business side of the teams are having hard times. Teams like Lotus, Sauber and the backmarkers could suddenly lose lots of positions in the final weekend and thus lose a lot of money. The effects extend far beyond what it intends to do; liven up the battle for the championship, of which we have seen great ones in the final races of ’07, ’08, ’10 and ’12. Does it create an even playing field? No. Would it have changed the finales of seasons like ’02, ’04, ’11 or ’13? Nope.

    It’s as if they made a brainstorm and threw a dart at it to pick the solution. I’m getting fed up with these random decisions and poor long-term thinking. Case in point: ‘we’re going to also form another group, which is going to try and do in 7 months what a former FIA president couldn’t do in years and the teams themselves have been trying to do for at least 4 years as well.’ If your department at work ever told the CEO ‘we’re going to start another department (sometime) which will do this (somehow)’, odds are, you’re not going to get a pat on the back and a press release.

  6. bull mello (@bullmello) said on 10th December 2013, 16:37

    This idea has Bernie written all over it. (He is on the F1 strategy group that approved this, a rules think tank made up of the FIA, 6 out of the 11 teams and commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone.)

    The teams will go along with it because more points = more prize money.

    Very successful gimmick on many different levels. Any publicity is good publicity (in the mind of Bernie) and this ploy has received more media and social media attention than some of the actual races and will probably continue to do so. And, this is in the off season.

  7. magon4 (@magon4) said on 10th December 2013, 16:47

    This is what the target thinks about the idea:
    http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/formula1/25324100

  8. bull mello (@bullmello) said on 10th December 2013, 16:57

    @pmccarthy_is_a_legend
    “I don’t think the FIA should be overly concerned by what the fans want as far as the points system goes.”
    No worries there. They are not concerned.

    “The fans hardly ever want any change. A lot of them are opposed to a cost cap simply because it is difficult to police for instance. If anything the fans are most prone to knee jerky and overly emotional reactions because they are emotionally invested in the sport as any fan of any sport are.”
    It’s taken years of observation to come to my “knee-jerky” conclusion that the teams will never come to a meaningful budget cap. ;-)

    I would just rather see better racing as a way to attract new fans and keep old ones. Gimmicks are not sustaining, you’ll need a new one constantly. Discerning new fans that will stay with the sport will do so because of the quality of racing and the mystique, legend and tradition that is F1. Gimmicks will only bring fans of gimmicks.

    • bull mello (@bullmello) said on 10th December 2013, 16:58

      Sorry, was supposed to be a reply…

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 10th December 2013, 20:31

        No need to apologise Bull, we’ve all read the legends insult to our intelligence 3 times now.

        • bull mello (@bullmello) said on 10th December 2013, 22:00

          Sad but true the budget cap idea, however well intentioned, has been a colossal waste of time, energy and resources towards an unproductive end repeatedly. Remember the anticipation, the endless negotiations, the numerous hopeful articles written about how a meaningful budget cap was finally going to forged and agreed to by all the teams. Look what we ended up with, a toothless pile of mush that was blatantly ignored by all who agreed to it. That was not the first attempt and failure either. History will repeat itself again if we do not learn from it.

          What can we learn from previous budget cap attempts? The teams most affected by the caps, the teams with the most money, will never agree to anything meaningful that will limit their spending and reveal their true budgets. They cannot be forced to do it, so why would they willingly agree? For the good of the sport? The richest teams would first resort to a scorched earth policy that eliminates all but the richest teams as long as they can still survive. They don’t care if it degrades the sport, they only care about their own glory and prize money. Even if F1 was on the brink of going out of business, there would likely still be dissenters on a vote for budget caps.

          This is not negativity, it is being pragmatic about the nature of the top teams in F1 and the dynamics of how F1, FIA and FOM are set up to operate. Until that changes, the top teams will not agree to give up their power. So, to be positive, let’s not waste time and hope on something so unproductive and burn our energy on ideas to improve F1 that could actually happen.

          • HoHum (@hohum) said on 10th December 2013, 22:30

            @bullmello, we seem to inexorably marching toward customer cars, I think Ferrari would be perfectly happy to have half the teams running Ferraris and wouldn’t mind if f’rinstance Fernando had a really bad-luck year and Hulkenberg in the FIFerrari won the WDC, taking Le Mans 24 as an example, Ford, Aston Martin, Bentley, Jaguar etc. have all benefitted from having strong customer teams.

  9. petebaldwin (@petebaldwin) said on 10th December 2013, 17:25

    Wait a second… “unanimously approved by F1′s new Strategy Group?”

    Christian Horner voted for something designed to stop Vettel winning the Championship before the last race? Why would he?

  10. Jim Garry said on 10th December 2013, 17:31

    ” … 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 … ”

    OK. What gimmick is going to be used to change aero effects?

  11. Mike Dee (@mike-dee) said on 10th December 2013, 18:06

    According to Sport Bild, Mercedes and Ferrari voted in favour of the double points rule, Red Bull against it. And Vettel thinks it is nonsense.

  12. Pandaslap (@pandaslap) said on 10th December 2013, 18:15

    The savior of all mankind, Sebastian Vettel, has come out against the double points race. He called it “absurd”. http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/formula1/25324100

  13. Bobby (@f1bobby) said on 10th December 2013, 18:18

    Oh my god, I’ve only just found out about this. What a complete joke. I wonder at what point I stop watching, I’ve gone off the sport a lot this year.

  14. vjanik said on 10th December 2013, 18:30

    i never thought i’d say this but i hope next years championship will be decided well before the last GP. just to **** off the FIA and the dollars from the emirates.

  15. rankx (@rankx22) said on 10th December 2013, 18:32

    I say: The new rule doesn’t go far enough.
    The top 3 drivers of the championship go for the title in the final race. The points don’t matter anymore in this race. Who comes out top in this final is champion. If all 3 fail to reach the podium, the best ranked guy in the championship who makes it onto the podium is champion.

    Take that, FIA weaklings!

    • The Last Pope (@the-last-pope) said on 11th December 2013, 0:29

      @rankx22 lol Yeah. They can do much better for the entertainment show.

      The season win should only qualify the driver for the chance to go for the “championship” in a special “jackpot” challenge, to be held right after the end of the final race. Here he must draw a number from a hat, he will then switch cars with the driver who’s race number matches the drawn number, and then the two of them will drive the track in the opposite direction for 5 laps with all timing withheld.
      After this is completed the driver will be put up on the podium with his choice of two team/family members. They will then be given the time put up by the other driver, and then they will have to endure 30 seconds of suspenseful music before being told if they beat the time of the other driver to win the championship.

      Just imagine it. Sebastian Vettel standing up on the podium with Helmut Marko and Christian Horner
      while a voice says this over the sound system
      “Sebastian Vettel you drew the number of Felipe Massa. In your car, Massa set a time of 1:32.564 seconds………… Driving Massa’s car you set a time of………………………….1:33.340″
      (sad music, sad faces on podium)
      “So this means this year’s championship will roll over to next year with the drivers all competing for a double championship!!!!”

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