29 January 2014
F1 to revisit double points ‘gimmick’?
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admits that awarding double points for Abu Dhabi finale may not be the best way of addressing falling TV audience figures.
F1 team bosses could reconsider whether offering 'double points' for the 2014 season finale is a fitting decision for the sport, but have yet to decide how to address the backlash from fans.
The World Motor Sport Council approved the idea at the start of December last year and, even though team representatives met in Geneva to rethink the proposal just over a week ago, it remains on the slate for when the championship reaches its conclusion in Abu Dhabi. Predictably, perhaps, the outcry from fans has been audible, many upset at the introduction of a 'gimmick' that could have implications for a title battle otherwise fought out on normal F1 terms.
While F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has suggested that it would be fairer if double points were instigated at more than one round – perhaps taking in the championship's 'classic' events, such as Monaco, Silverstone, Monza and Spa – the teams appear to be caught between campaigning for a return to the status quo or acquiescing to Ecclestone's whims.
"I think the sh*tstorm we got afterwards was something which was not expected," Mercedes' motorsport chief Toto Wolff told journalists at Jerez on the opening day of pre-season testing, "We discussed it up and down, and the reason [for agreeing to double points] was that, for the last [few] years, we have seen the dominance of a driver and team and the [television] audiences were not as expected.
"Was it the right move or not? Ninety-nine 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.
"We decided to keep it for the moment, [but] there are discussions ongoing. There are some arguments [in favour of retaining double points]…. when you see TV audiences generally dropping, you need to try out things, [but] maybe this wasn't the right thing."
Caterham owner Tony Fernandes was one of the more outspoken critics within the F1 paddock, even though he openly admits that it is unlikely that his team will be affected by the new policy.
“The double points is a fake fix; it's not a solution,” he said earlier this month, “I don't think it's fair to the guy who has bust his balls out when you've got 19 races and loses it on one.
“I'm not anywhere near [being] in that position and I'm just stating my point, but why have they got to that situation? Because [F1] has become so predictable.”
Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel has branded the decision to award double points in Abu Dhabi 'absurd' as, even though it would not have affected his 2013 title, using the same rule would have meant the German missing out the previous year after trailing main rival Fernando Alonso home at the Interlagos finale. Just three points split the pair after the race, but Alonso would have claimed 20 points more than Vettel in Brazil, comfortably overturning him in the standings.
Vettel's team boss, Christian Horner, also admitted that the decision to alter the method of scoring may have been misguided, but appeared to share Ecclestone's view on a solution after wrapping up both team and drivers' crowns well before the end of 2013.
"I don't think that it's any secret that I wasn't particularly in favour of it, [but] I can understand why the governing body and the promoter are keen to keep the championship alive - or hope to keep the championship alive - until the last race,” he noted, “Two out of the last four years, it's gone to the last race under the previous points scoring system so it would probably be better to look at [awarding double points at] three races to take away an element of lottery over that last race."
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