Formula One has to decide if it is a sport or a game
A tweak to the rules is nothing new in sport. Football has played around with the offside rule, cricket developed LBW to avoid gamesmanship and rugby has changed the rules so often that I am no longer sure exactly what they are. But these changes were intended to make the sports fairer. The new rule change that Formula One has just announced does precisely the opposite.
Following a meeting of the F1 Strategy Group it has been announced that the points awarded to drivers and constructors for the last race of the year will be doubled. The stated intention is to ‘maximise focus on the Championship until the end of the campaign’. It is not the first time that one race in a series has been given more points than the others. The Le Mans 24 hours race awards double points for competitors. But that is because the other races in the series last 6 hours, and to win the 24 Heures du Mans is a more impressive achievement.
In F1 it is not more impressive to win the season finale at Abu Dhabi than any of the previous races. To give the final race undue importance denigrates the performances in the rest of the season. It reduces the purity of the sport and turns it into a high-speed board game. Where will the manipulation end? Will teams will be forced to pick up ‘Community Chest’ cards which allow them to skip a lap or force them to give 10 seconds to every other team. A new penalty of driving an extra lap might as well be introduced.
Anyone who remembers Clive Anderson presenting Whose Line is it Anyway will be familiar with this style of scoring. It is nonsensical and makes for a ruined season. Each race will retain its own individual integrity, but the season as a whole will not. How will the press treat a racing driver who only wins the World Championship because he has been handed double points?
Imagine how football would be ruined if the goals in the final games of the season counted for double. Goal differences would be changed, a season-long record could be obliterated. F1 needs to concentrate on being the pinnacle of motor-sport, not gimmicks. Although if gimmicks are the way forward please tweet your ideas to @flaneurzine. We’ll pass the best ones on to Bernie.
Winner so far…
Choose grid position by a driver hot-dog eating competition the night before each race?