The FIA have announced that from next season, the last race of the season will count as double points with the race winner collecting 50 points and teams able to bag a potential 86 points in total. Andrew Davies gives 10 reasons why he doesn’t like it.
1. It’s a gimmick. Abu Dhabi is a poor race to have as the last race of the season, lacking in atmosphere and passionate fans. It’s not Interlagos, Montreal, Monza or Silverstone that’s for sure. Why have they got this prize? Money. F1 is being drained of money by its commercial rights holder and places cash above history. Plus, historically Red Bull have always been good at Yas Marina and Ferrari poor, which hands an advantage to one team over another straight away.
2. It will place undue emphasis on reliability. A tiny failure could have a massive effect.
3. It will put too much pressure on individual team members. Imagine if you were a wheel change guy and you got it right all season long and then in the last race of the season messed it up.
A five-second delay could be the difference between winning a World Championship and denying a driver the chance to ever take that title. Fair enough if it was all in the driver’s own hands, but it’s not.
4. The temptation to play team games by delaying other drivers etc is there.It’s that much greater because the stakes are that much higher. F1 is mulling over the idea of squad amalgamations and having three-car teams in the future. This would certainly make team tactics more likely in racing.
5. Decisions by the stewards become amplified. They don’t show any signs of getting all of them right and so the chances that the World Championship might be decided on the basis of a contentious decision are greater.
6. A stupid accident and poor driving from other drivers could have massive implications. Under this system, Bruno Senna’s over-ambitious overtaking move at the start of the 2012 Brazilian GP which injured a totally innocent Sebastian Vettel would have handed the World Championship to Alonso.
7. FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting’s race-day decisions could also be the difference between winning and losing Championships. Had the Hamilton vs Bottas accident happened after Vettel had passed the end of the pitlane and the Safety Car emerged, then it might have been a different result.
8. The only good thing about a decider in Abu Dhabi (apart from Kimi being able to walk there from his hotel) is that it’s very unlikely to rain. Imagine that, the World Championship being decided on what time it rains. That could still happen if the last race was at another venue, like Brazil, but unlikely at Yas Marina.
Exactly what time it rains does affect a title-deciding race under the current system, but doubling up the points just amplifies the randomness of it, as with the Safety car, or a mechanical failure, or almost all the points raised here.
9. At the bottom of the World Championship table, where single points are hard to come by, it might be tempting for Caterham and Marussia to develop a car that is designed purely for a good performance at the last circuit of the year – because one good result there and that’s all they need.
10. Fans may not notice they’re being shortchanged, but there’ll be a wariness for teams to run flat-out or stress engines and gearboxes at the penultimate race(s) because there’s such a bonus at the last one.
Andrew Davies: If the F1 Strategy Group really really want to irritate people and the last race of the season to be worth double, why don’t they have two races – one on the Saturday and one on the Sunday. The drivers are used to putting in back-to-back test days of 100+ laps so it’s not going to be a fitness issue. Sunday’s grid would be the reverse of the finishing order of Saturday’s race (provided cars finished on the same lap as the winner – no going home early to get a better grid slot). Spectators get double the value, the race track gets the same kudos, and it’s less of a matter of chance. (We can call the first one the San Marino Grand Prix, because that was never held in San Marino)