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

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  1. Eamon (@eamon) said on 11th December 2013, 1:34

    While I’m certainly not in favour of this double-points rule, I can’t agree with the analogy between widening of goals in response to scoreless football games and DRS.
    It hasn’t become more difficult to score goals over the years, whereas F1’s ever-increasing downforce levels have made overtaking much harder.

  2. Jorge Lardone (@jorge-lardone) said on 11th December 2013, 3:20

    It is the more stupid rule of F1 history.

  3. Scalextric (@scalextric) said on 11th December 2013, 3:45

    F1 gets a lot of cash from each race. The tracks/countries/organizations that pay this money to Bernie all saw their races devalued relative to the last race of the year. They will not be happy. This will be overturned.

  4. Sergio Perez (@sergio-perez) said on 11th December 2013, 4:02

    I am actually not against this. i think it works like a “wild card” and can counter balance luck or certain issues that might hinder a team during a season. In the overall scheme of things, it will not influence much, I think, in the top half of the standings. it will, however, mean a lot if the midfield is as competitive as it was this year. Many “do or die” strategies in this race, I presume.

    What I don’t agree is that Abu Dhabi becomes the “de facto” end of season venue. I would love to see a “lucky draw”, or a “fan vote” for the end of season race, if it is to become so important. However, MONACO should NOT be included, or it would be a pole shootout affair.

    For an ending like this, I would love to see it in SPA, Montreal, Suzuka, even Silverstone . A driver’s circuit.

    • Sergio Perez (@sergio-perez) said on 11th December 2013, 4:05

      Or create a special circuit just for this race: Something demanding, with lots of overtaking opportunities, but unforgiving, with sand traps and not long escape roads. A One of a kind spectacular circuit with hills that would also demand more from the engines. If it is to be a race that rewards double the points, it should mean double the challenge for the teams and drivers.

  5. F1 is becoming a reality TV show. Next you will be able to vote drivers off the grid.

  6. I was shocked when I heard the double points rule change, why should the last race be worth twice the points of races 1-18, and why should a dnf be twice the penalty just because it is at the last race? This goes against the idea that all races in the season should have equal weight in the championship.

    Double points would not ensure that in dominant seasons the title fight would be extended, this season the title would still have been decided in India even with a double points last race. In the recent seasons that went to last race deciders 2008, 2010 and 2012 the effect of double points would be for the championship to be less close, and the race less exciting, as the difference in points between positions would be greater. In 2008 the title would be won by 5 points rather than 1 point (Hamilton would have needed to finish 2nd to win rather than 5th), in 2010 by 23 points instead of 4 (Alonso would have needed to finish 2nd rather than the 4th he needed (he finished 7th)), and in 2012 by 7 points instead of 3 (Vettel would have needed 4th rather than 6th).

    I have read that the original idea was for the last four races to be awarded double points, this idea was completely ridiculous and unfair, 2 or 3 wins late in the season would be equal 4 or 6 wins in races 1-15. There would be a real risk that a driver who had performed the best during the season and had won the most races could be beaten to the title by a driver whose only wins came in the four double points races (this is also the argument against “Grand Slam” races that some have proposed). Do we want a world champion with four race wins, in the “right” races, over a driver with eight wins in the “wrong” races?

  7. McKenzie (@mckenzie) said on 11th December 2013, 9:05

    Sorry if this is off topic but I can’t think where else to vent about the issue. Feel free to delete the comments if they have strayed too far off the subject matter on this thread.

    F1 is changing radically but for no good reason. The tail is wagging the dog methinks.

    Moving towards smaller engines, fancy energy recovery systems, and so on, is a drop in the proverbial ocean of energy consumption. Will the same amount of energy be expended on manufacturing the cars? Yes. Will the same amount of energy be utilised to move the F1 teams around the world? Yes. Will the same amount of energy be expended in moving fans to races? Yes. Pro rata, the amount of energy that will be saved by smaller engines is almost certainly negligible. Think about it: the energy consumption of 22 cars, running over 57 days – plus testing – is nothing compared to the amount of energy input required to get the cars and fans to the races.

    If F1 (and any other mass spectator motor sport for that matter) is going to have any real impact upon resource use, the focus should be on matters other than the engine size of the racing cars. Call me cynical if you like but I don’t buy the benefit of smaller engines for one minute. When one looks at the issues critically it becomes manifestly clear that reducing the engine sizes is nothing other than a marketing trick. To the casual observer it seems as if F1 has gone all ‘green’. The truth is little has changed.

    Like any sane person, I believe we should use resources wisely. However, the energy saving benefits of the smaller engines will be negligible. The new engines are highly complex, apparently they are very expensive, and some analysts predict problems with reliability. Maybe the latter point will only be a teething problem.

    The V8 engines are tried and tested. They could have been developed further in order to further the technical excellence of F1. Costs would probably have been reduced too. Instead, we are looking at massive changes that will introduce cost and design problems, while having virtually zero impact upon the issues they claim to address.

    I suspect the search for ways to spice up the races interfaces with introducing radically new engines. The engines are changing so we “need” to change the rules. Hence the daft proposal for double points in the final race. Mandatory pit stops might have been introduced but were headed off. They were proposed though so were probably part of the “we need new ideas because we have new engines” mindset.

    F1 is clearly the pinnacle of automotive engineering excellence, so it is essential that engineering innovation should be reflected in the sport. But the sport now seems to be suffering from the flip side of the search for excellence: complexity. The irony is the complexity of new year’s regulations are a corollary to an engine change that wasn’t even necessary. The V8s should never have been dropped because dropping them has created a lot of problems while solving…well none really.

    F1 is now suffering from the entropy that comes out of complex systems. The search for gimmicks is symptomatic of a wider malaise.

  8. Jason (@jason12) said on 11th December 2013, 10:10

    I haven’t seen any ‘good’ arguments against this idea, except for a large number of emotional reactions.
    On the positive it certainly has the effect of dragging out the DWC and Constructors till the last race of the season (which is actually great).

    Yes it will heavily penalize poor performance on the final race, but why’s that a bad thing?

    • Robbie said on 11th December 2013, 14:01

      Well it doesn’t just heavily penalize poor performance, it heavily penalizes someone who gets tapped by someone else in the first corner and ends up at the back of the pack through no fault of their own or their team’s.

      And I wouldn’t discount ’emotional reactions’ since by the tone of things it would seem a lot of people are getting more and more dejected with F1, and if for example this caused a drastic reduction in global viewership of F1, I would like to think F1 would react strongly to ‘mere’ emotional reactions. It is that which fans feel emotionally about the sport or their favorite driver and/or team which keeps them enthralled. When F1 becomes overburdened with gadgets, mid-season tire changes, rule changes, and now skewing of the points, there become just too many unnecessary variables beyond the usual ones to stay invested in F1.

    • Seriously? No good arguments?

      This heavily penalizes whoever happens to have their fluke mechanical failure at exactly the double points race, essentially turning a close season into a ridiculous lottery instead of a serious battle of men and machines. You will potentially end up champions that most fans refuse to recognize as they have clearly not won by skill but purely by having their own mechanical failure at a ‘low cost’ race!

  9. wayne drury said on 11th December 2013, 10:15

    Well guys do we all think f1 is going the same way as indycar and NASCAR did to get viewing figures up ,Too many gimmicks wrecked both sports and even killed drivers for example our own dan wheldon in which he was involved in a gimmick promotion at the Indy 500 last year what was it 1 million or something dollars bonus to go from last to 1st i am very worried for f1 at the moment Someone is going to get seriously hurt fangio ,hill ,clark,senna will be turning in there graves at this shambles f1 is no longer a sport its a commercial business exercise.

  10. Sergey Martyn said on 11th December 2013, 13:06

    Wondering why they chose the last race?
    Not the first or 13th etc.?
    Why not to allow double diffusers and double engine displacenments (i.e. 3.2 liter turbo) for the last race?
    Looks like Bernie’s brain has gone AWOL.
    Please remove the marasmatics from the strategy group – F1 is turning from a pinnacle of motorsport to a private freak show of Mr. Ecclestone.
    What F1 needs now is a fresh tide of raw talent – fast young drivers, cutting edge technology – this is what makes the show not the pay drivers using mandatory restricted machinery, stupid gimmicks and unfair point system.
    I lived in Soviet Union started following F1 in 1979 and my only source of any info back then were the Czech weekly car magazines I subscribed just to get any info on F1. I even learned Czech to understand the articles.
    You folks just can’t imagine what excitement it was! Reading the short articles in foreign language brought much more excitement than now when I have live timing on my tablet and all the footage from endless cameras on my TV.
    I still remember the shivers I got when I was just reading (not watching) about epic battles like for example Villeneuve vs, Arnoux at Dijon GP 1979

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xASPhBrkIZM

    Now when I watch it at youtube I got the same feelings – fearless folks fling their monster cars which are too powerful for their aerodynamics sideways, locking the wheels in huge clouds of smoke, slipstreaming each other in epic and clean wheel to wheel pure racing without stupid DRS, KERS and other gimmicks.
    Now when I watch F1 will live timing on my tablet I hardly suppress yawns.
    Thank you Mr. Ecclestone for killing the passion and the sport.

  11. I hadn’t had much time to be here in the past week until yesterday when I came on and saw the news and the massive outcry over the points skewing.

    Hopefully F1 will see this negative reaction which has not just been from those outside of F1 but from those within, and withdraw the concept.

    One of my reactions is surprise that they feel this is necessary now, when it was supposed to be the massive changes to the engines and chassis’, and as a result more sensible tires for 2014 that were going to shake things up and perhaps bring the Championship down to the wire. So I guess viewership must have really suffered with SV winning it all so early this year and they can’t trust that the new regs will prevent a team dominating, even in the first year.

    What a shame they refuse to simply reduce aero. I get that the teams are heavily invested in this type of racing, but I don’t suggest they have their wind tunnels taken away…why can’t the scales be zeroed by the teams being limited to their wings having a rake no more than they would use at a high speed track like Monza, for all the races? Yes we all know they will continue to work toward clawing the downforce back, but limiting what they can do with their wings and chassis’ surely would go a long way to enhancing the racing for a time.

    I also think that if only the racing was closer, and we didn’t have to witness DRS passes, but instead we saw a team, even a dominant one, at least have to work harder on the track for it, we wouldn’t mind so much if most of the season was enthralling and a driver won the WDC with a few races to go, but we really had the sense that he truly fought for it for 18/20 races. That’s always been a possibility in F1 and other forms of racing anyway, a Championsip being decided before the final race I mean, and what a shame that the viewing audience, F1 feels, isn’t capable of appreciating that.

    Put the racing back in the hands of the driver behind the wheel, on the track, and THAT will create the story. Without even witnessing a final, points-skewed race, we can already see, as should F1, that this is not the story line folks are looking for. The athletes should be creating the story on the track.

  12. ElBasque (@elbasque) said on 11th December 2013, 17:36

    This new raft of rules is complete bobbins. The thing i’m buzzing most about for next year is the BTCC at the moment, as their MO as always been about “fun” and “close racing”; and with a capacity grid and a full NGTC roster of cars its gonna be exciting; gimmicky exciting, but its never tried to hide that, and you accept that if you start to follow it as a series. It’s never tried to be the serious, bleeding edge search for ultimate pace that F1 should be. As for the more grown-up side of racing, i’ll probably keep just as much of an eye on the WEC next season, if i can find out where its broadcast.

    Formula 1 as i’ve known it has gone walkies. People can mention the tyre management of the 60’s, the fuel conservation of 80’s turbos, the “best results” rules of the pre-90’s – but i started watching as a kid in the mid-nineties (i think Senna’s death was one of my earliest memories, but i might have just planted that), and so F1 to me really should feel like the 95-05 seasons, probably minus the Ferrari International Assistance.

    And what it is at the moment is no-where near that; if the F1 of my childhood was a breakneck opera, then F1 of my 20’s seems to be some festive season pantomime where all the actors wear stupid, gaudy outfits to hide the fact that there’s no substance to the script.

  13. Don’t the FIA want any fans to follow F1.We started by having stupid electronic aids ,then putting the races on Sky, followed by rubbish tyres and now double points. Please can we go back to proper racing ,I don’t hold out much hope for next season.

  14. Seems every pronouncement/rule change increases the power of these arm chair-bound governors.
    Ever hiding behind the curtain, no meet the press after races like drivers and managers do to explain inconsistent decisions, and apparently don’t even bother to ask for opinions outside their closed group before they make an Important Announcement like this nonsense. One more change that increases their self-importance and power and that, not the ‘sport’ (and certainly not the fans), is their priority.

  15. Instead of double points for the last race, I would have preferred it if they gave bonus points for pole position and the fastest lap in the race. I think this is a better way to spice up the racing because it encourages all drivers to really go for it at all times instead of pottering along running their own race.

  16. David Scanlon (@david-scanlon) said on 12th December 2013, 11:46

    I agree it is utter nonsense to give double points at the last race of the season.

    What they could do instead to make the sport more interesting is to scrap qualifying and always let the drivers start in the reverse order to their current standing. Then they should also give points to the top 15 drivers instead of just 10. The driver with least points should have pole position and the Championship leader should start at the back.

    Besides it would be a big improvement if they allowed the teams to use whichever tyre manufacturer they want as they used to.

  17. David Scanlon (@david-scanlon) said on 12th December 2013, 12:01

    Suggested point system for 15 drivers.

    Points to 15 drivers: 1: 50, 2: 42, 3: 35, 4:30, 5, 26, 6, 22, 7:18, 8: 15, 9:12, 10: 10, 11:8, 12:6, 13:4. 14:2 and 15:1.

    And a bonus for fastest lap, perhaps 5 points.

    • Crashtor Malfunctionado said on 14th December 2013, 18:56

      Or they could go back to 10-6-4-3-2-1 … so beautiful and elegant in its simplicity. Apparently Schumi was too dominant so the FIA put an end to that nonsense quick smart >:(

  18. Palle (@palle) said on 20th December 2013, 15:09

    A small SCIFI Christmas story:
    Comming to the Abu Dhabi F1 race 2014: Before the race Alonso is leading the Championship by 42 points over Vettel, after a dominant autumn by Ferrari and in particular Alonso. However with the new rule of double points in the last race, it isn’t fully decided yet.
    Alonso starts the race on Pole and Vettel is on second row. The race unfolds and Alonso leads by a good margin over Vettel, who has fought his way up to second, but at the penultimate lap Alonso is hit when overtaking a backmarker and his left rear wheel is gone. Vettel storms past and wins the race, and his 5th Championship in a row.
    A month later FIA removes the rule about double points in the last race “because the F1 fans didn’t like the rule in the first place.”
    And for 2015 the FIA then wants to introduce Succes-penalties, i.e. for next race a driver get a weight penalty proportional with the number of points he got in the race.

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