Last week at the results of a meeting between the F1 strategy group and the Formula One Commission were published by the FIA. Whilst a number of new sporting regulations were revealed it was one in particular that grabbed the headlines. The FIA announced that the final race of the F1 season, for 2014 it’s the Abu Dhabi GP, will now be a double points race for drivers to teams.
The explanation behind this drastic move was to increase the likeliness of a final race title showdown’s. Many journalists and fans of F1 has condemned this latest move as simply another gimmick to spice up “The Show” as F1 is increasingly referred to within the paddock.This argument appears to have some merit with other recent examples of what can be considered “gimmicks” are the deliberate introduction of tyre’s with a short life span when Pirelli entered the sport in 2011 and the introduction of the DRS system, also in 2011, to aid overtaking by allowing cars within a second of each other to open their rear wing and therefore significantly increase their straight line speed.
On the other hand this double points final race will inevitably increase the future likelihood of a final race title showdown which is subsequently improve future numbers of television audiences which then means more money for F1. The main reason for the level of criticism this rule has received center’s on the viewpoint of many F1 fans and journalists that this is simply an artificial “gimmick” to improve the racing. What is telling about this recent uproar is the fact drivers and teams are speaking out in criticism of this rule when usually they offer the words “no comment” to press reporters quizzing them about it. Indeed, Lotus went as far as posting a picture of their version of the 2014 rules openly mocking the new rule changes on their official Twitter page a few days after it was introduced. Current world champion Sebastien Vettel also described the double points rule as “absurd” showing the utter contempt many within F1 feel towards the new double points rule.
Whilst many of the media will focus their reports on the polarising double points rule this was not the only rule changes announced by the FIA last week. Indeed, there have been a flurry of support for the other rule changes with the most popular appearing to be that from 2014 a driver will get to choose the number they will carry for their F1 career. This has been introduced by the FIA to make it easier for fans to follow certain drivers in races as a result of the fact many drivers now change their helmets for a majority of F1 races which has made it increasingly difficult for fans to find their favourite drivers when watching the races. Another upside for this new rule in the eye’s of particularly nostalgic F1 fans is the fact that it conjurs up images of the fantastically brave Gilles Villeneuve in his red Ferrari with the number 27 on the rear wing or even pictures of Nigel Mansell and the iconic Red 5 number that adorned his car for most of his career.
Something else that was introduced for 2014 by the FIA last week was a new 5 second penalty, which is to used for minor incidents during Grand Prix weekend’s . This was brought in because it was felt that for some incidents a drive through penalty, the previously smallest possible punishment, did not fit the crime and was too much of a hindrance on a driver’s race. This appears to be a sensible decision by the FIA as I would tend to agree that sometimes in the last few seasons a driver’s race has been ruined by a drive-through penalty.
A new and hugely significant step was taken for the 2015 last week also as the FIA announced that they plan to introduce a Cost Cap in F1 as a way to make F1 more sustainable. This is something that has been announced before yet has never happened however so whilst this is a good first step the FIA need to ensure this cost cap is fully implemented because many teams on the F 1 are increasingly struggling with finances as is evidenced by the rise in drivers bringing funding to teams these past few seasons.
Finally, from 2015 to the current day as the final rule change was to allow Pirelli to conduct a 3 day tyre test starting today, December 17th, at Bahrain with every team being invited. However, only 6 teams have agreed to take part with those being Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren, Sahara-Force India and Scuderia Toro Rosso.