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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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 >:(

  8. 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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