Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali has revealed today that the meeting of Formula 1’s Sporting Working Group (SWG) to discuss how to spice up the show, is imminent. It is thought that nothing radical is on the table, but a revision to the new points system and some method for retaining race strategy without refuelling is to be discussed.
“In the agenda we do not only have the fact that we have to re-seed the scoring system, but also there may be other issues that may be important, linked to the use of tyres, linked to the number of pitstops. This is going to be defined by the end of January.”
At last December’s World Motor Sport meeting the SWG, a sub-committee of the F1 Commission made up of the FIA and F1 teams, was tasked with going away “to develop detailed proposals to improve the show.” The meeting will take place late next week and there will be discussions about making the new points system more interesting, along the lines that many of the JA on F1 readers suggested, by making a bigger difference between points for first and second and more points for mid-pack finishes.
Instead of what was originally proposed, 25-20-15-10-8-6-5-3-2-1 it is being proposed that second place would get 18 points, fourth would get 12, fifth would get 10, sixth would get 8 and then the points would tail off steeply down to a single point for 10th place. This will reward the winner more and will give the established teams more points for a top 6 finish pro-rata compared to the minor placings.
The idea of changing the points system is to reflect the fact that the grid has grown to 26 cars and to give the new teams a greater chance of scoring at least a few points. They are also talking about a couple of points for pole and fastest lap. This last one could be fun as a team like Lotus, or even a more competitive runner who is out of the points, might stick a set of soft tyres on late in the race to grab a couple of points – the equivalent of a ninth place finish.
Perhaps the more interesting topic however for next week is the use of tyres and tactics in the race, now that there is no longer refueling. As the rules stand, a driver just has to use both tyre compounds at some point. The obvious problem here is that this will mean that drivers will do a very long, dull stint on the hard tyre and then make one stop around 3/4 distance.
One suggestion is that they have to start the race on the same set of tyres with which they qualified. It’s a good idea, but on its own, that will just present the same problem in reverse – a short first stint on softs and then a very long and boring stint on hards.
So the question is, can they make a rule that a driver has to make a minimum of two stops in the race? It might work but seems artificial. Or maybe the desired effect can be achieved by asking Bridgestone to bring more marginal tyre compounds so that more stops are needed anyway?
I’m all for keeping a tactical side to the sport, something to keep people guessing, to involve the team and its strategists in the outcome, rather than leave it all to the drivers.
The SWG’s findings will need to be approved by the F1 commission and then by the FIA World Motor Sport Council – this will probably happen by fax vote in February, as their next scheduled meeting is not until 11 March in Bahrain, three days before the first race.