6 F1 World Champions Who Would Have Lost Their Title Under Double Points Rule

Fraser MasefieldContributor IDecember 10, 2013

6 F1 World Champions Who Would Have Lost Their Title Under Double Points Rule

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    Gilles Villeneuve would have beaten Jody Scheckter to the title
    Gilles Villeneuve would have beaten Jody Scheckter to the titleGetty Images/Getty Images

    The controversial new ruling that double points will now be awarded in the final race of the season has already met with a great deal of criticism.

    Whereas with the old ruling, the most consistent driver over the course of the season invariably comes away champion, the new regulation means that a driver can still come from a long way back in the final race and snatch the title.

    Thankfully, this absurd new idea, dreamed up by a meeting between the Formlula One Strategy Group and the Formula One Commission in Paris, has never happened before.

    But it is interesting to speculate what might have happened had it been in place since the world championship began.

    Here are six notable world champions who would have lost their title under the double points rule.

Honourable Mentions

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    Nelson Piquet would never have been a three-time champion
    Nelson Piquet would never have been a three-time championMike Powell/Getty Images

    A number of drivers would have lost their titles under the double points ruling in the final race of the season.

    They include Nelson Piquet, who never would have been a three-time world champion after losing out to Alan Jones in 1981, with the Australian taking victory to the Brazilian’s fifth and thus taking the title by three points.

    And the closest points margin in the history of the championship, with Niki Lauda pipping Alain Prost by half a point in 1984, would have gone the other way with Prost taking the title by a mere 2.5 points.

1956: Juan Manuel Fangio to Stirling Moss

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    If double points had always been the norm, only the man on the left would be a world champion
    If double points had always been the norm, only the man on the left would be a world championShaun Botterill/Getty Images

    After Fangio beat Moss to the chequered flag at the Nurburgring, Moss trailed his Argentine rival by an insurmountable 11 points going into the final round and was also behind Peter Collins and Jean Behra in the standings.

    With the new system, Moss would have been champion as he would have collected 18 points for the victory with Fangio finishing joint second after Collins handed him his car.

    Moss also would have won the title in 1958 after winning the final race of the season in Morocco but as it was, he lost out to Mike Hawthorn by a single point.

    1956 season standings: 1st Fangio 30 points, 2nd Moss 27 points

    Alternative final race day points: Moss 18, Fangio 6

    Alternative final standings: 1st Moss 36 points, 2nd Fangio 33 points

1970: Jochen Rindt to Jackie Ickx

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    Perhaps the greatest injustice of them all would have been if the great Jochen Rindt was denied his 1970 championship title by Jackie Ickx.

    Rindt had dominated the season, winning five races for Lotus before tragically losing his life during practice for the Italian Grand Prix. But the Austrian became the first and hopefully only posthumous world champion when closest rival Jackie Ickx could only manage fourth at Watkins Glen.

    Ickx went on to win the final grand prix of the season in Mexico and had double points been in operation, the Belgian would have claimed his first title by four points.

    It’s a moot point, of course, as had the rule been mandatory then Ickx’s conscience may well have taken over, especially as Lotus decided to withdraw from both the Italian and Canadian Grands Prix as a mark of respect.

    1970 season standings: 1st Rindt 45 points, 2nd Ickx 40 points

    Alternative final race day points: Rindt 0, Ickx 18

    Alternative final standings: 1st Ickx 49 points, 2nd Rindt 45 points

1979: Jody Scheckter to Gilles Villeneuve

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    South Africa would still be waiting for a world champion
    South Africa would still be waiting for a world championGetty Images/Getty Images

    South Africa’s Jody Scheckter sealed his first and only world title two rounds before the end of the season by beating teammate Gilles Villeneuve to the chequered flag in Italy.

    Villeneuve was again second in his native Canada a race later and with the new rulings, his title charge would have been very much alive.

    And he would have sealed a popular first world title with victory at Watkins Glen as Scheckter retired with a puncture.

    1979 season standings: 1st Scheckter 51 points, 2nd Villeneuve 47 points

    Alternative final race day points: Villeneuve 18, Scheckter 0

    Alternative final standings: 1st Villeneuve 56 points, 2nd Scheckter 51 points

2003: Michael Schumacher to Kimi Raikkonen

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    Schumacher would have had to settle for second in 2003
    Schumacher would have had to settle for second in 2003Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    Under the new regulations, Kimi Raikkonen would already be a double world champion as he would have interrupted Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari streak in 2003.

    Raikkonen needed to win the race and hope Schumacher failed to finish to win the title by a single point. And it very nearly happened, as he finished second to Rubens Barrichello with Schumacher grabbing the final point with an eighth-place finish.

    Yet under the new regulations, this would have been enough for Raikkonen to win the title by five points from Schumacher.

    2003 season standings: 1st Schumacher 93 points, 2nd Raikkonen 91 points

    Alternative final race day points: Raikkonen 16, Schumacher 2

    Alternative final standings: 1st Raikkonen 99 points, 2nd Schumacher 94 points

2008: Lewis Hamilton to Felipe Massa

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    What a shame it would have been had we been denied the final lap drama of the most exciting finish of all time due to the double points system.

    Going into the final round of an epic 2008 championship season, Felipe Massa needed to secure victory with Hamilton finishing lower than fifth place to grab the title.

    And it looked like that very scenario was going to give Massa his first world title as he crossed the finish line to win with Hamilton still sixth. But moments later, Massa’s tears of joy turned to tears of frustration as Hamilton passed Timo Glock’s ailing Toyota on the final corner of the final lap to win the title by a point.

    With the double points system and Massa cruising to victory, the excitement would have been over long before the finish.

    2008 season standings: 1st Hamilton 98 points, 2nd Massa 97 points

    Alternative final race day points: Massa 20, Hamilton 8

    Alternative final standings: 1st Massa 107 points, 2nd Hamilton 102 points

2012: Sebastian Vettel to Fernando Alonso

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    Fernando Alonso, the 2012 world champion
    Fernando Alonso, the 2012 world championClive Mason/Getty Images

    Sebastian Vettel may have swept to the title with consummate ease in 2013, but 2012 was a very different matter with Fernando Alonso pushing him all the way.

    Vettel led the drivers’ standings by an insurmountable 13 points going into the season finale in Brazil, but with the new system, Alonso still would have had a chance.

    And the Spaniard would have taken it after finishing second to Vettel’s sixth and thus securing a prestigious third world title by seven points.

    2012 season standings: 1st Vettel 281 points, 2nd Alonso 278 points

    Alternative final race day points: Alonso 36, Vettel 16

    Alternative final standings: 1st Alonso 294 points, 2nd Vettel 289 points