F-I-Eh? | Formula 1’s raft of new rules for 2014

DOUBLE POINTS

(Before I begin, credit to you if you read that in the announcer voice from Call of Duty Zombies.)

Not content with hiking up the points tariff to include 9th and 10th place in 2010, The FIA have recently decided to make the season-ending race in Abu Dhabi a ‘double-points’ event, meaning first place will get an unthinkable FIFTY points, an tally that would take five wins to accumulate as recently as 2009.

The rule comes into effect because it is thought it will make drivers strive to do better and absolutely provide a decent incentive to fight for the championship right to the end. F1 fans who watched the 2010 season will remember the Abu Dhabi race of that year where a frustrated Fernando Alonso could not get past Vitaly Petrov’s Renault, and lost the championship to Vettel. While the rule was not based on this scenario, it is thought that it will avoid similar predicaments in the future by spurring drivers on to take more risks and go for broke.

In my opinion – I’m not going to mince my words here – this is complete and utter bollocks. This is moving the goalposts to the ultimate degree, surely rather than making more points available to everyone, including non-championship contenders, the points should be reserved for the very best.

Let me give you an example.

Let’s say that points go down to 10th and it’s the double points race in Abu Dhabi. Imagine Alonso is leading the championship by 19 points from Hamilton. Alonso is out, and Hamilton’s in 6th place at the moment, so needs to move up to 5th to score 20 points and win the title. But Pastor Maldonado got lucky at the start of the race and is in 5th place. He could score 20 points here, there’s no way he is going to let Lewis past.

The idea is that the points boost will make championship contenders more hungry for points, but that incentive will not just restrict itself to the front of the grid, everyone will be keen to do it, and it could be extremely dangerous, with fortunate drivers in high places vehemently defending their clutch of points. My main concern is not that of safety though, for and idea that promises to double points, it’s completely pointless. Why and where did this need to happen?! Sebastian Vettel hates the idea, and if that doesn’t say enough then I really don’t know what will.

POLE TROPHY

I’m less annoyed about this, but I still dislike how quickly the governing body are changing the sport between one season and another; Formula 1 is going to become unrecognisable before too long. Perhaps inspired by Mercedes’ lacklustre pole-to-win conversion rate in 2013, a ‘Pole Trophy’ will be awarded to the driver with the most pole positions in a season. It’s a non-championship affecting accolade which is why I don’t really mind it, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s just a piece of silverware.

PERMANENT NUMBERS

I’m sitting on the fence for this one. Drivers will now have permanent numbers assigned to their cars throughout their careers. I did always like the team-specific numbers, like Tyrell being 3 & 4, Ferrari being 27 & 28 etc, so in a way it sparks a sort of nostalgic buzz. This actually could be a wonderful thing. I’m not old enough to tell you about it but I know of the notoriety of Nigel Mansell’s Red 5 during his days at Williams, and we could see more of these traditions emerge

Nige' with his classic numerical identification
Nige’ with his classic numerical identification.

Basically, all the current drivers, and any new drivers that enter the sport from hereon in will have to pick a number that will stay with them for the duration of their career in the sport. The number ‘1’ will be reserved only for that Season’s World Champion, but they will get to pick a regular number if they fail to retain the crown, or they would rather not carry #1.

In an effort to improve driver spotting, cars will have their numbers made much more visible, and the drivers will be made to carry their chosen number on their helmets too. In the past, driver spotting has been fairly easy, as the drivers usually choose a different helmet to one another, but for example in 2013, Hamilton and Rosberg both wore a yellow helmet. This was very confusing, and the little-known TV Camera mount was the only way to tell them apart unless there was a close-up of the helmet itself. If you have trouble seeing who’s who, the first driver in the team gets a red T-shaped camera above his head, and the second gets a yellow one.

Red means first, yellow means second.
Remember – red means first, yellow means second.

There are other rules for 2014 as well; you’ve no doubt heard of the engine changes, chassis alterations and the penalty-points tarrif for naughty crash-happy drivers, but I’ve highlighted these three because they’ve come into effect ever so recently. I’m a little irked by the fact that these rules have been thought of little more than three months before they are planned to be imposed, and I would definitely have liked to see a poll or ballot, particularly in the case of the double-points travesty. Whether or not that does provide an interesting race in Abu Dhabi, we will find out in eleven months.

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