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Stefano Domenicali Reveals Additional Points System Revision

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali

In a recent interview in La Stampa, Ferrari chief Stefano Domenicali revealed possible changes that might be discussed in the January meeting of the FIA Sporting Working Group (SWG).  When asked if the current limited time frame allowed for pre-season testing would be adaquate to prepare for the 2010 season, Domenicali said, “It has to be.”

However, he went on to say, “The conditions are the same for us all.  Then we wait for the decisions of the Sporting Working Group of the FIA, which will meet in January to approve new rules.”  This would seem to imply that an extension of the current testing limits might be proposed.

Another topic under consideration according to Domenicali will be a revision to the new points system.  The revised system already planned for 2010 awards points to the top ten finishers.  However, according to Domenicali, “The scoring is likely to be revised. There is a proposal to reward the pole position and the fastest lap of the race.”

Points were awarded for fastest race lap during the first decade of Formula 1, from 1950 through 1959. During this period, only the first five finishers were awarded points, however.  In 1960, the system was revised so that the top six finishers were awarded points, and no points were awarded for fastest lap.

Beginning in 1961, a 9-6-4-3-2-1 points distribution method was instituted, and this remained relatively consistent for the next 30 years.  During that time, the number of each driver’s best results that counted towards his final championship total was changed periodically, but the actual points increments remained the same.  In 1991, the points distribution was revised to a 10-6-4-3-2-1, which gave greater weight to race wins.

In 2003, the system was revised to a 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 system, largely as a reaction to Michael Schumacher, who had, in the previous year, won a total of 144 points out of a possible 170.  He’d sewn up the title so quickly that the second half of the season was seen as anti-climactic.  The 2003 system reduced the margin between first and second place finishes by 50%.

Theoretically, this would prolong the championship battle to the end of the season.  While it did have this effect, it also createed an unintended consequence of making it very difficult for a driver to make up a points deficit that resulted from a DNF.  This ultimately made consistent finishes more important than actual race wins.  (Under the previous system, for example, Felipe Massa would have been champion in 2008, rather than Lewis Hamilton.)

Many drivers and team principals were critical of this aspect of the points system, and the 2010 system addresses this.  The new 25-20-15-10-8-6-5-3-2-1 distribution creates an even greater margin between podium points than existed under the 1991 system.  This will give added weight to race wins.  It also distributes points further down the grid, a reflection of a larger field (26 cars) in 2010.

Image by 2009 Turkish GP, licensed through Creative Commons.

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