F1 demeans itself with double points gimmick


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. geekracer2000 (@geekracer2000) said on 10th December 2013, 18:38

    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.

    @keith I like what you’ve done there

  2. Todfod (@todfod) said on 10th December 2013, 18:52

    I think f1 has ridiculed itself enough with the tyres and DRS. In addition to that there is a lot of frustration from fans when the sport was dominated by a technical head over the past 4 seasons.

    But none of that compares to this ridiculous double points race in Abu Dhabi

    I cant watch this sport for much longer.

  3. Patrick (@paeschli) said on 10th December 2013, 19:26

    Another concern: we’re talking about cost cutting but now teams must develop new componenents for the car until the last race, because the last race is so important … instead of already focussing on next year’s car …

  4. Bobby (@f1bobby) said on 10th December 2013, 19:26

    In other sports news, FIFA announce that goals scored in stoppage time will count double from next year’s World Cup.

  5. Robert McKay said on 10th December 2013, 19:35

    This is basically a slightly ahead of time glimpse at what the sport will be like when it is entirely, completely run by invisible soulless businessmen and not mostly run by invisible soulless corporate businessmen.

  6. tigen (@tigen) said on 10th December 2013, 19:37

    What they could do instead is simply change the points structure to award more points for the win and less points for 2nd, 3rd.

    And they can restrict aerodynamic development. This is mainly where the costs come from and where performance between the teams can become uncompetitive. And like Keith said, current aero restricts overtaking.

  7. CeeVee (@ceevee) said on 10th December 2013, 20:07

    I’m suprised that Bernie hasn’t picked up an idea or two from other game-shows. Like audience participation. How about a phone in vote from viewers electing which driver gets a 10 second stop-go penalty, or bonus extra seconds for their KERS. I’m sure that this would bring in many more viewers of the type that Bernie is trying to attract.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 10th December 2013, 20:43

      Or a great big puddle of mud in the run off area covered with a light tarpaulin painted like tarmac, imagine the fun when a car ran off the track and ended up buried in mud, hahahoho ha a anha ha then the driver has to hahahohoho wade through the mud hahahohohoha, priceless TV, the ratings will go through the roof.

  8. Nascar has the concept of Chase for the Cup where only the top 13 fight for the championship in the final 10 races This is considered as the chase. I AM NOT A SUpporter of even that concept as it undervalues the the effort put in through the 3/4 of the year. For me the double points seems to be more of a some commercial impact business decision than a decision made for the sake of the sport. If it was a sport related decision the teams and the strategy group would have very easily said no to this.

  9. djdaveyp85 (@djdaveyp87) said on 10th December 2013, 20:21

    I read through the press release for these changes with a smile of satisfaction on my face, until I got to this point. All changes were positive for F1 except for double points. It just doesn’t make any sense.

  10. Trido (@trido) said on 10th December 2013, 20:31

    It will go away when Ferrari first get bitten by it.

  11. masesox said on 10th December 2013, 20:39

    why not introduce championship ballast. works great in btcc. even split the race into two one hour races and have a random reverse grid in the second. if all else fails introduce a mandatory safety car half way throughout he race. it would back the pack up you would guarantee at least two pit stops then. limit the drs to a set amount of time throughout the race and even a push to pass button. works great in indy car and gives a half believable way of areodynamic juggernoughts being able to pass each other

  12. Steven (@steevkay) said on 10th December 2013, 20:58

    If F1 wants to become gimmicky, don’t half-ass it; if you want gimmicky entertainment, go all the way. Bring in sprinklers. Bring in temporary nitrous boost. Bring in banana peels drivers can toss onto the course (everybody gets 3, unless they somehow can pick up the peels that other drivers have thrown). Bring in medals for the rest of the races. Bring in shortcuts that can be used only a few laps per race. Bring in fan voting systems that allow them to dictate who is penalized and who is rewarded.

    I’m sure there’s a fanbase for Super Formula Mario (let’s face it, I would probably watch it), but let F1 continue with the serious racing.

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: heavily restricted aero, more mechanical grip, and increase power. I want to see F1 drivers struggling to put power down. I was watching some old Top Gear, and during their Senna tribute (Series 15) I noticed (again) how the old cars were always squirming under power/braking and you could see the drivers really having to work their cars. That’s what I want. Keep the modern gearboxes and brakes; aerodynamics are interesting, but not when they are the determining factor in a season.

  13. For Sure (@forsure) said on 10th December 2013, 21:12

    The conspiracy theorist in me is beginning to wonder if this isn’t all part of a master plan by the FIA to get rid of CVC, or FOM, or something.

    Step 1: Make F1 completely ridiculous. DRS and disintegrating tyres were only the beginning. Unique numbers means loud, driver-specific merchandise. Double points. Some more ludicrous proposals.
    Step 2: Proper fans leave. But because they’re motorsport junkies, they begin watching other classes of racing. Most of these are sanctioned by – surprise, surprise – the FIA. So the FIA retains the repeat eyeballs.
    Step 3: Without proper fans providing the base, the glitterati fall out of love with F1. They were only here because the crowds and the flashy cars made it seem glamourous. No crowds and anteater/phallus-nosed cars means no glamour.
    Step 4: No glitterati means tracks stop paying Bernie/CVC for the “privilege” of hosting a race.
    Step 5: F1 becomes toxic. CVC wants to sell.
    Step 6: FIA/Consortium of teams swoop in and buy the now-depreciated F1 for a pittance.
    Step 7: F1 is reborn with pre-’97 regs and no Bernie.

    Hey, a guy can dream!

  14. F1 is becoming wacky races ,it will be the laughing stock of motorsport .
    why not just have the last race and be done with it . being champion will mean nothing .

  15. James Jacobs said on 10th December 2013, 22:05

    Why don’t you make it a 1000 points for a win, and hold the final race on the Moon !

    I think this is well and truly the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. How can the best driver over the course of the season, just lose it in one final ( I could have a cold .. oh well !)race ? It devalues the previous races, and smacks of nothing more than a move to get more money. If not, whoever make’s these rules up, are seriously off their rockers. F1 is boring these days, I really think you’ve just killed the sport in one move.

    Good luck watching those numbers of fans dwindle.. You’ve lost me well and truly, F1 Champion now means nothing.

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