It is well known that the F1 strategy group are pushing hard to 'improve the show' after tv viewing figures have reflected a fall in global eyes on the sport and a mass switch off after Vettel had claimed his title so early in the season.
This led to Ecclestone proposing the double points idea, which has caused quite a storm. Most people hate its apparent unfairness and don't really understand what needs to be fixed as it is quite common for the title to go to the wire as it has done to great spectacle in recent years. And of course it wouldn't have changed anything in 2013 anyway. In fact a lot of people see this as a way of Bernie hiking the fees to land the coveted Finale slot in the calendar.
Personally I'm not too bothered by it all, in fact I quite like the idea. I like the idea of an end of season do-or-die final race to the title. I like the fact that TV networks can use it to cause hyperbole and bring new eyes to the sport who will be intrigued by the fuss. I also like the fact that if it does extend the championship, its better for tv, its better for sponsors and its better for us to keep interested and excited about how its all going to pan out. Is it going to create a strategy dilemma as you really want to keep a good engine for that final race too! Different teams will definitely approach it in different ways.
Is it unfair? No certainly not. All of the drivers and teams have the same opportunity and are in the same situation so its certainly not unfair. And look at other sports that have a different end-of-year format. In the uk the football league has an end of season play-off system to decide promotion, and Nascar has now adopted an end of season shoot out for the title. Double points in the final round is certainly no worse than this.
The worst problem for the double points system is that the media have refused to look at any positive sides. Thousands of column inches have been devoted to how terrible this is but very few to the good side. why? Why is the sport's media so hell-bent on beating its self up and self-criticising its sport. Its not a constructive situation at all.
There is also a vote going ahead on making some tweaks to the qualifying format which include but are not limited to:
- Qualifying tyres for Q3 - to encourage teams to run
- Ending the rule in which drivers have to start the race on the tyres they qualified on
- Extending the Q3 session from 10 to 12 minutes to allow more runs
- An extra set of option tyres for the teams that do not make Q3 to avoid 'tyre saving' in qualifying
None of these are necessarily bad ideas but the FIA does need to ensure its not making F1 too complicated for the causal viewer. There is enough new stuff to take in with the new power units and regulations without making qualifying super complex.
We should know the results of these votes after the next World Motorsport Council meeting.
It has also been widely reported that the FIA have legalised doughnuts at the end of the race providing the winning driver performs his celebration in a safe place and brings the car back to parc ferme. This is good for the show as people like to see celebrations! It was ridiculous for Vettel to have been punished and fined when he celebrated his 4th straight title win in India.
Personally I'd love to see points awarded for all finishers. It would mean that the last few years where we've had Caterham and Marussia fighting for a 12th place finish to move them ahead in the championship would actually make some sense. From the outside it looked like they were fighting over nothing and would provide something tangible in the fights lower down the field. In F1 every point needs to count but it is disappointing that teams can spend millions and not really get recognised. (This would be especially good this year with reliability at a premium)
As always please let me know what you think by tweeting me @PG_F1 or enter your comments below.