Formula 1's Double Points Rule Damages the Credibility of the Sport

Fraser Masefield@@fmasefieldContributor IDecember 10, 2013

Under the new rules, Felipe Massa would comfortably have beaten Lewis Hamilton to the 2008 title
Under the new rules, Felipe Massa would comfortably have beaten Lewis Hamilton to the 2008 titlePaul Gilham/Getty Images

Formula One will award double the amount of points in the final race of the season in an attempt to increase the interest right up until the season finale.

The highly-controversial rule change will come into immediate effect for the 2014 season after a meeting between the F1 strategy Group and the Formula One Commission in Paris finalised the change on Monday.

According to a statement released by the FIA, the decision was made "in order to maximise focus on the championship until the end of the campaign".

Although the new ruling would not have made a difference to Sebastian Vettel’s title-winning season, Fernando Alonso would have beaten Vettel to the title in 2012, Felipe Massa would have beaten Lewis Hamilton in 2008 and Kimi Raikkonen would have edged Michael Schumacher in 2003.

While the FIA has ratified the change in the interests of livening up the spectacle to the viewing public, it is in serious danger of making a mockery of the sport.

It just doesn’t appear fair that it’s now possible that the form driver of the field could have a title taken away from him due to a stroke of misfortune in the final race, say a technical malfunction or being punted off by a reckless rival.

Imagine the same principal being applied to other sports, a birdie counting for double in the final round of a golf major for example. A player stringing three consistent rounds together could find himself beaten by one who had just the one dazzling final round score.

And why should Abu Dhabi suddenly become the race with the most value attached rather than an iconic circuit such as Monaco, Spa-Francorchamps or Suzuka?

Loyal fans of F1 will watch the final race of the season no matter what and the FIA has already made a pig’s ear of trying to make F1 more appealing to the masses by giving Pirelli the brief of making faster wearing tyres to encourage more pit stops and overtaking.

It had completely the opposite effect with so many pit stops going on, particularly during last year’s Spanish Grand Prix, that it was almost impossible to keep track of where each driver actually was relative to the opposition. Then came the dramatic, although somewhat farcical situation at Silverstone where tyres were exploding left, right and centre.

The FIA seems to be rushing through changes almost every season for the sake of it and not allowing the sport to settle down. What chance is there of newbies to the sport keeping track of all these changes, year after year?

It’s not the only change that will be in place with the FIA also introducing a five-second penalty for minor infringements and a cost cap on spending that aims to further level the playing field between the teams with the bigger budgets and their poorer rivals.

"The principle of a global cost cap has been adopted. The limit will be applied from January 2015,” read the FIA statement.

A working group will be established within the coming days comprising the FIA, representatives of the commercial rights holder and team representatives. The objective of the working group will be to have regulations approved by the end of June 2014.

Sep 1992:  Williams-Renault driver Nigel Mansell of Great Britain in action during the Portuguese Grand Prix at the Estoril circuit in Estoril, Portugal. Mansell won the race and became World Champion in his last season in Formula One. \ Mandatory Credit:
Pascal Rondeau/Getty Images

The final change to be pushed through is one that should appeal to the purists and actually seems to make sense for merchandising reasons. Drivers will now be allowed to choose a race number for the remainder of their F1 careers, with the reigning champion given the option to have the number one should they wish.

Who really pays attention to the numbers on the cars anyway when it’s the helmet everyone really pays attention to in order to identify the driver. But drivers can make a number unique and special over time, and it can become just as much of an identifying trademark.

Red 5 anyone?