From 2014 onwards, double points will be awarded at the Formula 1 season finale. A meeting between the Formula 1 Strategy Group and Formula 1 Commission led to the ratification of several changes to the 2014 sporting regulations, as was mandated by the FIA at the World Motorsport Council in Paris last week.
The ratification of this rule means that in Abu Dhabi next season, the winner of the race will be awarded 50 points, second place 36 points, third place 30 points and so on, until 10th place which will receive two points. This will also apply to constructors.
The goal of this new regulation is to ensure that the fight for the championship will go down to the wire, and should one team be further behind than the normal points system would allow for them to still win going into the finale, that team and driver can have a better chance of emerging champions.
Under these new rules, some championships would have turned out differently. For instance, Felipe Massa would have been crowned the 2008 world champion, as his win in the season finale, compared to Lewis Hamilton‘s fifth, would have been enough for the Brazilian to overhaul his rival. The same goes for Fernando Alonso in 2012. His second place finish compared to Sebastian Vettel’s sixth would have given the Spaniard his third world title, rather than the German’s third.
There is a worry, however, that putting such an emphasis on the season finale’s points could victimize someone who suffers mechanical failure. With the five-engine limit for next year a major hurdle, those who have to use an extra one and incur a penalty could lose out more than usual. No one wants the ‘wrong’ person to win the title because someone else lost out because of circumstances out of their control. This rule could also open the floodgates for other races to feature double points. This regulation could thus explain why the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi has put major investment into improving the facilities for their season finale return. Certainly, having this special feature at a Grand Prix would be enticing for potential investors in the sport.
While this is an interesting new way to spice up the championship, it could prove a step too far for the sport if it gets out of control.