On December 10th 2013 much to the consternation the majority of Formula One’s global audience, the FIA announced plans to award double points for the final race of the 2014 season in Abu Dhabi. Bernie Ecclestone later revealed this decision was in fact a compromise with him having initially tabled a proposal for double points to be awarded in the final three races of the season.
Throughout the 2014 season; media and fans continuously voiced disdain towards the rule, arguing the rule reduced the sport to entertainment and detracted from a driver or team’s performance across the season. As it turned out the rule had almost no bearing on either the drivers’ or constructors’ championship standings, but the rule was drew such criticism it was dropped after only one season. The sport’s governing body listened to the fans.
Fast forward to the 2015 US Grand Prix should Mercedes achieve a 1, 2 finish with Lewis Hamilton winning; the drivers’ championship will be sealed with three races left to run. This coupled with Mercedes securing the constructors championship in Russia earlier this month, should we be asking was Bernie Ecclestone right after all?
Had Bernie Ecclestone got his wish and double points been available for the final three races of this season, Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton would head into the closing races all with a chance of winning the drivers’ championship. Would that be such a bad thing?
Over the course of the 2015 season Ferrari has shown they are moving into a position to challenge Mercedes with genuine race pace. Had double points been available for Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi, Ferrari could have dedicated all resources toward winning those final three races and challenging Lewis Hamilton for this year’s championship. Under the current system both Mercedes and Ferrari have focused efforts of 2016 acknowledging the battle for 2015 is all but over.
The current points system gives equal weighting to every race across the season, but in a championship in which a single driver or team has dominated the end result have never really looked in doubt. Adding an element of jeopardy to the championship could have served to sustain or even grow audiences, forced teams to remain focused on the current championship rather than diverting resources to the following season, and left drivers feeling vulnerable unable to rely on performances earlier in the year.
So next time Bernie Ecclestone or the FIA announce a radical rule change challenging the fundamentals of the sport we hold so dear, perhaps we should hear them out and give their ideas a chance!