A new law that that awards teams and drivers double points for the season finale was introduced by the FIA yesterday.
As part of a gamut of new rules, including a cost cap (delayed until 2015), new penalties for minor infractions, permanent drivers’ numbers and a Pirelli Tyre test in a week’s time in Bahrain, this particular regulation change is designed to focus the grid on the Championship right up until the end of the year.
The last race in the 2014 calendar will be Abu Dhabi, so all eyes will be – or so the organizers hope – on the Yas Marina Circuit come the end of the campaign next year.
It has turned that particular slot into a bit of a prize for the host country and no doubt the Emiratis are happy with their investment.
These rule changes, announced in Paris yesterday, are “immediately applicable, given the mandate assigned to the FIA President at the last World Motor Sport Council meeting, held on 4 December in Paris”, as stated on the FIA website.
The drivers will now have the potential to score a maximum of 50 points at Yas Marina and a combined 1-2 will mean a tally of 86 points (50+36) for the Constructors’ Championship standings.
While a retrospective application wouldn’t have an effect on the 2013 Championship race this year – such was Sebastian Vettel’s dominance of proceedings – it would have meant Fernando Alonso was the 2012 title-winner, and the points system would have ensured Felipe Massa, rather than Lewis Hamilton, was the 2008 World Champion.
It will be a controversial rule change for fans. This is the first time it has been tried and it raises the stakes for the Abu Dhabi race considerably. A gearbox or engine failure – and there will likely be many an engine failure in 2014, as well as possible penalties given the lower number of engines allowed – will be doubly as disastrous for both teams and drivers.
The initial fan feedback hasn’t been great, but can the actions of the FIA be understood? Having Vettel clinch the championship four races out took the meat out of the competition slightly, although every driver always wants to win every race possible.
Looking back, however, the rule does not change as many championship outcomes as would be expected.
A fight that goes down to the wire will be enjoyable, and it gives allowance for the possible crowning of an underdog (and here are RichardsF1.com, there may be a soft spot for Mark Webber!).
However, is the Yas Marina the best choice for this sort of race? Perhaps not, though it is likely they would have paid significant amounts for the privilege. Is it fair on the drivers, to add more pressure on a single race?
It also seems like a strange rule to tack onto the meatier rule changes, such as cost capping that came out of the FIA meeting. Who was pushing this particular bandwagon?
What do you think? Will the rule change make things more exciting or is it just another gimmick, making it more about the show than the tech?