Posted by: kcgadiyar | March 18, 2009

Are the new F1 rules good for keeping viewer interest alive?

Quick Trivia Question: Who is the only person to win a roadracing world championship without winning any races in the season? (Answer at the end of the post)

In case you haven’t heard, Formula 1 has changed its rules:

Now the winner of the most races will be awarded the drivers championship rather than the person with the most points at the end of the season. The World Motor Sport council feels that this will keep viewer interest in the championship alive till the very last race and drivers will race to win rather than race to do a damage control and just score points. Lets look back at the last 4 seasons of Formula 1 to see if the rule will make any difference. I am neglecting the previous years of Schumi dominance because the season would probably have been over halfway through itself. Lets go season by season 2005 – 2009

The 2005 F-1 Season: This was the Raikkonen – Alonso showdown. Alonso had won the title with 2 races to spare. But if we look back at the season, we see a brilliant story building.

2 races to go. Alonso – 6 wins, Raikkonen – 6 wins. In the penultimate race, Raikkonen overtakes Fisichella with 2 laps to go to get to 7 wins for the season, Alonso now needs to win the last race in order to be crowned champion on the basis of having more number of points.

Just imagine the excitement the last race would have had if this had been the case. So, my verdict for the 2005 season: New rules. The end result would not be different, Alonso would pull off a miraculous drive to win the title in the last race.

2006 F-1 season: The Schumi retirement season. Here, the situation gets better, going into the last race, Schumacher and Alonso both have 7 wins each. Who knows how this one would have played out. But since Massa won the last race, we will have to assume that it would have been the same.

My verdict: New rules win here again.

2007 F-1 season: Here is where the new rules falter. Going into the last race, all 3 contenders (Alonso, Raikkonen and Hamilton) had 4 wins each. But, the beauty of the final race was not the fact that the winner would be the new champion but rather the thrill of seeing Hamilton in 7th with Alonso in 3rd and Raikkonen in 2nd for the majority of the race and being uncertain which positions they would finish at, and who would be the champion.

With the new rules, that thrill is thrown out the window, instead we get a straight fight to win with no riders attached, i remember discussing the “If Kimi wins and somehow Hamilton finishes 6th or lower, Kimi will win the title” and varied forms of this conversation with friends. Of course, the new rules would have prevented the unnecessary courtroom drama over the final race results, but still this round i have to award to the old rules.

2008 F-1 Season: The final corner of the final race of the season deciding the title, you are not a true F-1 fan if that didn’t make you happy. Watching the final sequence unfold was a thing of beauty, rooting for Sebastian Vettel to stay ahead of Hamilton, hoping the rain stays away, all that wont happen with the new rules. Because, with the new rules all that will matter is that Massa winning means that he gets the championship. So this one also i award to the old rules.

So, there we have it 2-2 for both rules. I am personally willing to give the new rules a chance, even though they sound very strange right now. No rewards for consistency, in fact with 2 races to go last season, Kimi Raikkonen could have won the title, but would he have deserved it if he had somehow managed to win 2 on the trot? I highly doubt it. But we will see as the season progresses.

Until Next Time,


P.S: The answer to the question asked at the very start:


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