Why Formula 1 Must Stand Up Against Double-Points Rule

Fraser Masefield@@fmasefieldContributor IFebruary 11, 2014

Christian Horner is not against Bernie Ecclestone's proposal of double points for the final three races
Christian Horner is not against Bernie Ecclestone's proposal of double points for the final three racesClive Mason/Getty Images

The sport of Formula One racing has seen so many changes over the decades since the inaugural championship season in 1950 that it’s impossible to keep track of all of them.

This season sees one of the most radical changes in the sport’s history with the introduction of 1.6-litre V6 turbocharged power units replacing the 2.4-litre V8 engine.

But it is another rule that has raised the heckles of many fans, teams and drivers alike and that is to award double points for the final race of the season. It means that a driver, who has not been the most consistent during the previous 18 rounds can overturn a large deficit to snatch ultimate glory in Abu Dhabi.

The ruling was devised to spice up the spectacle until the final race of the season and to maintain interest in the sport after four seasons of dominance from Red Bull Racing, despite two of those title wins still going down to the final race.

Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel slammed the rules as "absurd," Felipe Massa "crazy" and former driver Eddie Irvine as "tinsel town bull****."

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The rule is set to stay after the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Geneva approved amendments to the 2014 sporting regulations late last month. But it recently emerged that F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone told the Daily Telegraph, as reported on ESPNF1, that he is in favour of extending the double-points ruling to the final three races of the season.

To extend it to three races, Ecclestone would need the unanimous agreement of the participating F1 teams and that is unlikely to happen. With pre-season testing already underway and the season just over a month away, it seems very late in the day to shake up the rules yet again.

Furthermore, given Red Bull Racing and Renault’s early struggles with the new engine regulations, giving more weight in points for the final three races could now play into their hands if their reliability problems continue until the early rounds.

It comes as no surprise, therefore, that Red Bull boss Christian Horner said that extending the rule to the last three races would make it fairer whilst admitting on Autosport that he was never in favour of it from the outset.

I think of course the fans' opinions matter but I don't think it's any secret that I wasn't particularly in favour of it. I can understand why the governing body and the promoter are keen to keep the championship alive, or hoping the championship is kept alive until the end of the last race.

But two out of the last four years have gone to the last race under the previous points scoring system. We need to look at three for argument's sake, to take away an element of lottery over that last race.

Former champion Damon Hill is one who thinks that the double-points system for the final race is a good idea, as he recently told Sky Sports. But he appears to be in the minority.

If you go to Wimbledon and you are in a knock-out competition it then gets more crucial and more important the closer you get to the final - and the final is worth a lot more points than the first round.

Personally, I don't see what the story is about. Winning the World Championship is the goal and if it gets more and more intense towards the end, and there is more at stake at the end of the championship, then that should be more exciting.

There is one final chance for teams to make a final stand against this absurd ruling. The FIA has called a meeting with team managers during the next test in Bahrain on February 21 to discuss changing the qualifying format and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff told Autosport that the ruling needs to be addressed.

"Was it the right move or not? 99 per cent of our fans and spectators, and this is what counts, told us it was the wrong move so perhaps it is something to revisit."

In every sport, there will be periods of dominance by one individual or one team, and the championship has survived as a wonderful spectacle for over 60 years without meddling with the points format for the final round.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.