The FIA World Motor Sport Council has seen fit to abandon the continuation of ‘double points’ finales and the introduction of standing race restarts for the 2015 season.
Its removal was floated during separate meetings of Formula 1’s Strategy Group and F1 Commission in Geneva last week, and rubber-stamped by the FIA WMSC in its latest meeting in Doha this week.
The concept of a double points finale was mooted by F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone and introduced for the 2014 Formula 1 season to keep the championship battle alive until the last race of the season. The concept was almost universally panned by the sport’s insiders and fans alike, and Ecclestone ultimately conceded that the concept might be a one-year wonder.
The double points offered for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix did nothing to change the final championship reckoning, other than to give championship-winner Lewis Hamilton a rather flattering 67-point margin over teammate Nico Rosberg when the battle between them was far close than the points gap would suggest.
Also – and mercifully – dumped is the introduction of a standing race restart after a Safety Car interruption, which was originally voted in by the F1 Commission before they subsequently saw the folly of the proposal and decided to drop it.
Under the original proposal, the drivers would line up on the grid after a Safety Car period to restart the race, provided two or more laps had passed from the start of the race – or a preceding restart – and there were over five laps of the race remaining. Instead, the race will resume via a traditional rolling restart.
The FIA has also introduced the concept of the ‘Virtual Safety Car’ in a high-risk, double-yellow flag zone after successful trials of the idea in the wake of Jules Bianchi’s sickening accident during the Japanese Grand Prix where he failed to slow sufficiently and collided with a trackside recovery vehicle.
The system works by automatically imposing a speed limits on the cars through accident-affected sections of the circuit which do not warrant a full-course caution or Safety Car intervention.
The governing body also confirmed a number of other regulation changes for the 2015 season as follows:
- The minimum car weight has been increased by 1kg to 702kg.
- In the event of a race suspension or red flag, the drivers will now be required to proceed slowly to the pit lane, as opposed to the starting grid, for service. The pit exit will remain closed until the FIA Race Director declares the race can be restarted.
- The penalty has been increased for team members remaining on the starting grid after the 15-second board has been shown; drivers of the car in question will have to start the race from the pit lane or serve a 10-second stop/go penalty.
- The replacement of a complete power unit will no longer result in a penalty; individual penalties will instead apply to the individual power unit elements as they are replaced beyond the maximum of five allowed for the entire season.
- If an engine grid drop cannot be served in its entirety, the driver will not have the balance of the penalty applied at the next race; instead, they will incur a post-race time penalty, starting at 5 seconds for between one and five unserved grid drops.
- A 10-second stop/go penalty will be imposed for any driver who is unsafely released from their pit bay during a race.
- In addition to the 5-second penalties that were introduced in 2014, the FIA Stewards will have the discretion to impose a 10-second penalty for more serious infractions.
Image via XPB Images