Monday, December 9, 2013

Formula One Goes Three for Four On Rule Changes

Today was a busy day for Formula One. Four rules changes/proposals were made public and F1 went three for four except their one miss is terrible.

It has been approved that the final race of the season will be worth double points. That's right. 50 points to the winner of the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, 36 for second, 30 for third, all the way down to tenth which will receive two points.

My problem is they are changing it to make more drivers eligible for the championship. If you enter Monaco down twenty-six points back of the championship leader, the best you can do is get within one of the lead. That should be the same for every race of the championship. The bar should not be lowered for the season finale. If you can't be within twenty-five points after eighteen or nineteen rounds, you shouldn't be mathematically eliminated from the world championship. You shouldn't be given a second chance because this race is going to be special and everything is double. The points should be consistent from race one through the season finale.

A few weeks ago I threw out the idea of the final race of the NASCAR season be winner-take-all, meaning the winner earns the regular point for a win but second through last get nothing. The difference with my idea and what Formula One is doing is the amount of championship eligible drivers does not change going into the season finale, only the objective does. The points leaders couldn't ride around only needing to finish a certain position to clinch the title. Rather the only way the points leader could guarantee the championship becoming theirs would be by winning the final race. The same for the other mathematically eligible drivers trailing entering the season finale. If they want to win the championships, the objective would be simply: win.

Don't get me wrong, the winner-take-all season finale idea has it's problems but the double points season finale is much worse.

The other three changes are appealing.

Let's start with five-second penalties for on-track infractions. If it limits the amount of "to be investigated after the race" alert we get during races I am all for it. I'm all for a driver being held for five seconds after a pit stop and then released. It's quick, easy to enforce and less controversial.

Budget caps are a good idea but remember back in 2009 when they tried budget caps? How did that go?

On paper it is a great idea. Limit these teams from spending a gargantuan amount of money and hopefully decrease the amount of ride buyers with talent becoming more important when making a hire. To be honest, ride buyers will always exist. If a team is limited to a $50 million budget, they will take a driver who is bringing $30 million and 7th in GP2 over a guy who has $10 million and 2nd in GP2 eight days a week.

With that said it would stop teams from spending money they don't have. Multiple times through out 2013 we heard Lotus didn't have any money. Sauber didn't have any money. Räikkönen isn't getting paid. Hülkenberg isn't getting paid. How long can you really last when you aren't paying your drivers? If that's the future of F1 then count me out. Save the teams from themselves before it is too late.

Finally their is permanent driver numbers and I am intrigued by the idea. Personally, I'd rather they return to permanent team numbers because the constructors' championship decides who gets paid what earnings when the season is all said and done and it'd be less individualistic and would be easy to follow (Ferraris are #27 and #28. Lotus are #5 and #6 and so on).

But that individualistic part intrigues me. What number will each driver choose? It's the same characteristic that I love about MotoGP. Valentino Rossi is #46. Nicky Hayden is #69, Colin Edwards #5, Dani Pedrosa #26, Casey Stoner was #27, Jorge Lorenzo is #99, Loris Capirossi was #65, Carlos Checa was #7. You can easily name the rider with the number. Same with IndyCar and NASCAR. What number will Fernando Alonso choose? What about Lewis Hamilton? Will anyone choose an uncommon number like #47, #53 or #62? What will the backstory behind a number selection be? Could it be a lucky number from karting or the year of a parent's birth? It will gives a slim view of who a driver is in an uncommon avenue.

As for the debate about retiring numbers, such as #27, famously association with Gilles Villeneuve and Ferrari, I say no. I've never been for retiring numbers. I don't see it as an honor. I think it can be used as a tool to get the best out of a competitor. If you are a young Canadian and pick the #27, don't you pick in honor of the legendary Villeneuve and in hopes you can live up to what it means? That will get more out of a driver than if it was to be never used again.

Formula One did well. Three for four is a great day at the plate. The one miss is awful though and should be reversed.