Teams surprised by reaction against double points

2014 F1 season

Toto Wolff, Mercedes, Bahrain, 2014Formula One’s team principals admit they were surprised by the strength of the reaction against the plan to award double points at the final race of the season.

Fans have overwhelmingly criticised the plan, with 96% opposing it in a recent F1 Fanatic poll.

The idea was proposed by Bernie Ecclestone in an attempt to prevent a repeat of last year’s decline in viewing figures in the final races.

“I think when it was decided we didn’t put too much emphasis on it,” said Mercedes motorsport chief Toto Wolff, “we didn’t think it was a big drama.”

“It’s clear that you have to support the commercial rights holder and if TV audience dropping I think we have an obligation to listen.”

“When we got the reaction afterwards it was not what we expected. You have to honour that and I think nothing has changed since then. The last race remains double points. Let’s see what we are able to do next year.”

Claire Williams and McLaren’s Eric Boullier endorsed Wolff’s view during the team principals’ press conference in Melbourne.

The possibility of awarding points for qualifying positions has also been raised. Renault’s Rob White said: “I think as long as the points structure is understood in advance it’s an optimisation target like all the rest and Formula One is a fantastic machine for getting the best out of a given set of constraints.”

“I personally am not in favour of things that are hard to understand. And therefore if it gets too complicated I won’t like it.”

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78 comments on Teams surprised by reaction against double points

  1. Psychotext (@textuality) said on 14th March 2014, 9:00

    if TV audience dropping I think we have an obligation to listen

    Maybe you’d be better off thinking as well as listening. There are many reasons the TV audience is dropping, not least the fact that most countries have now switched to providers that you have to pay for.

    • Bobby (@f1bobby) said on 14th March 2014, 10:04

      Great point. Couldn’t agree more.

      Also, when one team or driver is dominating the ratings will drop, but this shouldn’t be addressed by arbitrary changes to the points system to ‘spice things up’.

      Taken to its extreme they may as well award 250 points to the first person to beat Vettel…..

      Just when I’m getting excited about the new season I am reminded of the idiocy of its rule makers!

    • JCost (@jcost) said on 14th March 2014, 11:09

      My question is: Who told Bernie viewership was going down because of points system?

      • MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 14th March 2014, 12:51

        Loads of fans. Everyone who moaned and said they were going to switch off because RBR tied the championship up with races to spare.

        • Paul A (@paul-a) said on 14th March 2014, 13:04

          That’s irrelevant — Vettel didn’t win nine races because of the points system. He won for whatever reasons, better car, better driver, more luck, less competition, being in clean air… and the winner gets more points than second, etc, etc.

          Yes – some fans were turned off because of his dominance, but the true diehard fans (I’ve been one for more than sixty years) know full well that this happens from time to time. Ecclestone was dead wrong with double points, and Wolff, Bouiller and Ms Williams have other motives (probably budgetary concerns rather than sporting competitiveness) to rather vaguely back him up.

          • MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 14th March 2014, 13:09

            It’s not irrelevant, it’s what people were saying. They hated that the championship was sewn up with races to spare and said they weren’t going to watch any more. People moaned. Because people always moan about everything. The change to the rules which gives double points for the last race is a logical solution to the problem of how you make sure that the championship isn’t decided early. A bad one which compromises the integrity of the sport while pandering to a vocal, uneducated minority from the X-Factor generation who would rather see an artificially tweaked reality show than a genuine competition, granted. But a solution none the less. And that’s basically what happens when people whinge and cry about every little thing in the sport. You end up with broken tyres, DRS passes, final race points bonanzas, and so on.

            It’s precisely because they DID listen to people moaning that we’re in this situation.

          • hobo (@hobo) said on 14th March 2014, 14:08

            @mazdachris and @paul-a – It IS irrelevant because their attempt to fix it didn’t change anything. In 2013 VET had the championship locked following the race in India because he had a 115 point lead with only 75 points available in the final three races. All this stupid double points scheme would have done was make 100 points available over 3 races. How does that help?

            One could argue that even though VET did not technically have the season locked up prior to India, he basically did. Again, this doesn’t change that. At the very most, one could argue that this scheme extends the possibilities by a race.

            But the problem is that if there is a runaway season, which are the seasons to worry about flagging interest, this does nothing but look cheesy and screw up future career points calculations. If no one can beat VET or MSC or SEN, then adding more points to certain races does not help. If they could beat them, they would have been doing so. And if it is a close season, then this becomes an unneeded and horrible asterisk.

          • hobo (@hobo) said on 14th March 2014, 14:15

            @mazdachris – Also, it’s clear that they were NOT listening to fans, otherwise they would have reversed this stupid decision. They were listening to (looking at) the viewership ratings. And that’s fine, that’s how they butter their bread, but they were very hamfisted in how they went about making changes.

            Rather than seeking input from fans or even listening to fan reaction to their idea, they simply say, oh well, we didn’t think fans would hate it and even though we know now that they do we’re just going to pretend it’s okay. They made the rules and can change them, but won’t.

          • MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 14th March 2014, 14:17

            I agree that it’s an absolutely dreadful solution to something which is simply an inherent characteristic of any sport. Sometimes you will have uncompetitive races and seasons, that is simply a fact which you must accept. This only becomes unacceptable if you believe that, rather than being a sport, F1 is actually a pure entertainment product, and one which must be tweaked in any way possible in order to maximise profitability. Which is exactly how the teams and the commercial rights holder see it. So in that respect, since this almost certainly will keep the championship alive longer than it would have done otherwise, it will be mission accomplished in their eyes. And let’s face it, us hardcore fans are almost incapable of doing the one thing we could do to oppose this – switch off and stop watching. But because I can’t switch off and I’m already a paid up subscriber, my opinion isn’t important compared to the opinions of those who CAN switch off. Those are the people whose voices will be listened to, not ours.

    • Latvian (@latvian) said on 14th March 2014, 12:59

      exactly. I also watch races via internet streemings. in Latvia I have to bay whole VIAsat package if I want to see F1. but in that package of 30 channels there is only 4 I would watch. so thanks, but no thanks. I’m not gonna pay for what I don’t need. If I could bay only those channels I need, I would consider. meanwhile I’m OK with what I get for FREE.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 14th March 2014, 13:10

      @textuality, right, and it’s not just because of pay TV, much of it is to do with insulting the intelligence of the fans by substituting gimmicks for racing, and it appears now that the team owners have no respect for the fans either.

    • I think Wolff forgot that the core audience will still watch F1 even if you ruin it. this move is for the people that wander about on tv so having a championship making headlines is good as it can bring new people to switch temporarily to F1.

  2. dennis (@dennis) said on 14th March 2014, 9:00

    “I think when it was decided we didn’t put too much emphasis on it,” said Mercedes motorsport chief Toto Wolff, “we didn’t think it was a big drama.”

    You don’t say! The problem is you guys didn’t do much thinking at all in the first place, concerning the needs and ideas of the fans…

  3. Ian Wilkins (@capt-wilko) said on 14th March 2014, 9:04

    Messeage to F1 teams, TRY LISTENING TO THE PEOPLE WHO COUNT, THE LOYAL FANS!

    • Jan (@yancheelaa) said on 14th March 2014, 9:11

      Couldnt agree more
      +1

    • Klon (@klon) said on 14th March 2014, 11:03

      Messeage to F1 teams, TRY LISTENING TO THE PEOPLE WHO COUNT

      They are listening to the demands of sponsors and TV stations who pay for this stuff…

      THE LOYAL FANS!

      Oh…

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 14th March 2014, 13:18

        @klon, “sponsors and TV stations who pay for” actually IT IS THE FANS who pay for all this stuff by watching and responding to the sponsors message and either paying for or suffering through the commercials of the TV broadcast, in my case it’s both.

    • soundscape (@soundscape) said on 14th March 2014, 11:03

      The problem is that, by definition, loyal fans aren’t the ones leaving F1 in droves. While I don’t agree AT ALL with the double points rule, us “loyal fans” aren’t the ones they’re trying to please.

      • Kelsier (@kelsier) said on 14th March 2014, 12:30

        But why would new or casual fans need other reasons to like the sport?

        If you think that we loyal fans like the sport despite it not being any good or exiciting then yes, they should change things.
        On the other hand if the loyal fans have good reasons to like the sport then the new or casual fans only need to discover what we like so much about it, not have it changed to “suite” a imginary person that does not like F1.

  4. andae23 (@andae23) said on 14th March 2014, 9:06

    It’s clear that you have to support the commercial rights holder and if TV audience dropping I think we have an obligation to listen.

    That’s exactly the problem here, because they really don’t need to listen. The rules should be written by the FIA, with input from the teams, like it is in pretty much any sport. When the commercial rights holder, i.e. Bernie Ltd., gets involved in writing the rules, things start crashing.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 14th March 2014, 9:19

      I guess its a nice way to say that when Bernie told them that Abu Double would pay extra to “spice it up a bit” it wouldn’t be a big problem and earn them all a few quid more, they just agreed, not thinking too much.
      Typical of how no one in F1 currently really thinks much about what they are doing as long as they do not see a danger to their narrow self interest.

      • MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 14th March 2014, 13:13

        Which is probably why the teams and the commercial rights holder shouldn’t be involved in decisions relating to the sporting regulations. Because they are ALL focused on their own self interests and have demonstrated on countless occasions how they can’t be trusted to work collectively for the good of the sport. Unless the good of the sport also happens to align with the relentless pursuit of increased profit margins.

  5. MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 14th March 2014, 9:06

    TV audiences are dropping because the commercial rights holder is insisting on putting F1 behind a paywall in major markets. Just look at what happened to the viewing figures in France after it was made subscription only. It’s not rocket science.

    But then perhaps it’s not that surprising really that people who have been professionally involved with motorsports for pretty much their whole lives don’t really understand the point of view of the common fan. Any more than we could realistically expect a politician to understand what a ‘normal’ person’s life is really like.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 14th March 2014, 13:28

      @mazdachris, just how many casual viewers or channel surfers do they think there are out there at 1.30 am or 6.30 am on a Sunday morning which are common broadcast times outside of Europe, you have to be a serious fan to be watching at those times, not a disinterested youth with a 15 second attention span, which seems to be what Bernie thinks the market consists of.

      • MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 14th March 2014, 13:34

        Alas, those who behave like disinterested youths with 15 second attention spans happen to be the ones who are most vocal in bemoaning everything about the sport. Those of us who have been there for decades, loving every minute of every race, are not the ones who are going onto forums and claiming that they can’t stand how boring it is and so on. We just quietly get on with watching the sport we love.

  6. They must all be living in the same shut-in fantasy world as Bernie then.

  7. chrisp said on 14th March 2014, 9:15

    The reaction came before the teams rubber-stamped the double points for the final race. Weeks before. Which shows just how hard they were listening to the fans. One day they will figure out it’s us that find their parade. They follow the TV money, advertising, etc as though they find it – they totally miss the link between the fans and those continuing to put the cash in. It’s not rocket science. They think our financial contribution is limited to a cap or two.

  8. mattshaw85 (@mattshaw85) said on 14th March 2014, 9:18

    So surprised by the reaction that they decided to stick with it despite that.

    These are supposedly intelligent people, it seems crazy that nobody put ‘much emphasis’ into agreeing a stupid rule.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 14th March 2014, 13:33

      My money is on Bernie signing the contracts (TV) first and then telling the teams to rubber stamp it, so with a fait accomplis they can’t change even if they had thought to consider the implications.
      A message to TV executives, I will boycott viewing the last race, I will not be alone.

  9. vjanik said on 14th March 2014, 9:35

    Toto, you will not improve viewing figures by doing something which 96% of the fans dont want.

    • andrewf1 (@andrewf1) said on 14th March 2014, 10:26

      Lol, exactly!

      I fail to see how their reasoning makes any sense whatsoever.

      Problem: declining viewing figures from fans
      Solution: shove a disgraceful rule down their throat, which none of them likes, that’ll teach’em!

      Also, regardless of feedback, make the decision permanent. Because…you know, it just has to be permanent.
      Unlike those ‘flexible’ technical rules regarding exhausts, diffusers or tires, which can change mid-season and actually impact the cars, their construction, performance and budgets, a purely artificial, organisational rule made-up by a delusional Bernie just has to remain permanent!

  10. Jon W said on 14th March 2014, 9:37

    They can’t be half as surprised as I am that they are surprised.

    F1 is full of intelligent people who on earth did they not realise this was a stupid idea?

  11. lee1 said on 14th March 2014, 9:43

    I can’t understand why no one in F1 seems to know that viewing figures are dropping because people are being asked to pay to watch it! When F1 was showing fully free on the BBC British viewing figures were rising each year. Then they move half of it to sky and viewing figures drop off. Although they are still strong on the races aired on the BBC for free. They are supposed to be clever people but anyone with half a brain cell can surely understand that we do not need double points they just need to move the coverage back to free to air channels.

    • craig-o (@craig-o) said on 14th March 2014, 9:49

      It’s the same in other countries too it seems. I can’t remember the exact figures but I’m sure every race live on Sky brings in significantly fewer figures than the BBC. The figures probably dropped off a bit in 2011 but Vettel domination probably contributed to that. It will be interesting to see what the TV audience for the last race will be. I’m unsure whether to boycott the race or not.

    • Keith Campbell (@keithedin) said on 14th March 2014, 10:14

      That is probably the main problem when considering veiwing figures for the whole season, but i presume the ‘drop off’ the teams are referring to in this case is the fall in viewers as the season nears the end, which shouldn’t be affected by the pay to watch system.

      I don’t have a good solution to the ‘dominant season’ problem, i think it might be something that you have to accept if you are to keep everything fair in a sporting sense. And i understand why this is a risk to investors and track owners if their race is towards the end of a season. But now that i think about it, these tracks also get the rewards if there is a close championship, so maybe these things can balance out over the years (if the tracks even stay on the calender that long!).

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 14th March 2014, 13:40

      Not only does moving to PPV hurt the viewing numbers it hurts the teams ability to raise sponsorship money, which hurts the quality of the cars the teams can afford to build, which hurts F1, which in turn hurts the number of people interested enough to watch, etc continuing in a downward spiral for F1.

  12. craig-o (@craig-o) said on 14th March 2014, 9:45

    Well maybe if teams took a sensible pill and decided that making 18 races half as significant as one on a dull track wasn’t a fantastic idea, we probably wouldn’t be in this absolutely stupid situation.

  13. Keith Campbell (@keithedin) said on 14th March 2014, 10:02

    I like these two quotes together: “it’s an optimisation target like all the rest and Formula One is a fantastic machine for getting the best out of a given set of constraints.” and “I personally am not in favour of things that are hard to understand”.

    Spoken like a true engineer ;)

  14. Dan_the_McLaren_fan (@dan_the_mclaren_fan) said on 14th March 2014, 11:19

    “It’s clear that you have to support the commercial rights holder and if TV audience dropping I think we have an obligation to listen.”

    I don’t think it’s a good idea to listen to an old man who thinks medal for race winners, track shortcuts, artificial wet tracks are a good idea. Each year Bernie comes up with the silliest idea for F1, and every year he is laughed at. How come this year everyone has supported the idea and keeps supporting it despite the strong criticism?

  15. electrolite (@electrolite) said on 14th March 2014, 11:31

    I propose the FFA (Formula One Fan’s Association). Screw FOTA.

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