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Formula 1 44

Double-points logic becomes clear

Now that the full extent of Renault Sport’s energy recovery problems are becoming evident, so the clouds are parting to reveal why Bernie Ecclestone seems intent on pursuing the hugely unpopular double-points idea.

f1  Double points logic becomes clear

It’s clear from all the noises emanating from Renault Sport and its partner teams – Red Bull, Lotus, Caterham and Toro Rosso – that the French engine manufacturer really is in a substantial amount of bother with its energy recovery technology. Unofficial reports are suggesting it may be as long as 20 weeks before the permanent fix required can be in place – which, if true, would take us to half-way through the season.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner pointed out from the Bahrain tests – where the Renault-engined cars, restricted to only a fraction of the theoretical maximum ERS energy, were up to 20mph slower down the straights than the Mercedes and Ferrari-engined cars – the piece of history he believes has proved crucial in Renault’s current difficulties.

Where the problems started

When the first generation of energy recovery was introduced to F1 – KERS in 2009 – Ferrari and Mercedes developed it in-house from within their respective engine departments, albeit in association with Magneti Marelli in Ferrari’s case. By contrast, Renault Sport did not; instead the development of the KERS unit was carried out by what was then the Renault-badged team at Enstone.

Horner believes that set of circumstances has allowed the Ferrari and Mercedes engine departments to gain a vital head start in the technology. The Enstone team still exists of course, now badged as Lotus, but those involved in designing and developing the KERS project back then have not been part of Renault Sport’s power unit programme in Viry.

f1  Double points logic becomes clear

Technical director at the Enstone team at the time was Bob Bell, now installed in a similar position at Mercedes, and he recalled the KERS programme there with some pride at the time, saying: “During the planning of the car Flavio [Briatore] was convinced the teams were not going to agree to KERS because of the costs involved, so we only did lip service to its development initially. Then it became clear that it was going to be needed after all and we had to do quite a lot in a condensed period.

“Of all the things we’ve done in recent years to be proud of, that project is one of them because with our four-person team we created a system that was as good as anyone else’s and completely reliable.” Mercedes and Ferrari both acknowledge that developing those KERS units – both the first generation units in 2009 and the subsequent developments used from 2011-13 – proved to be key building blocks to developing the current more powerful systems.

Bernie’s possible intention

Given the close relationship between Horner and Ecclestone, it’s inconceivable that Bernie would not be fully appraised of Renault’s current difficulties and how long they may take to fix. Bernie is F1’s promoter, so feels he needs a contest to sell. What better one than an early-season points lead of a Mercedes or Ferrari-engined driver being eroded fast by a suddenly on-form Red Bull, all reaching a climactic conclusion right at the end?

Hence his initial idea of a double points finale has now given way to double points for the last three events. If we look at the 19-race calendar, the amount of time being talked about to properly cure the Renault would potentially see the pukka unit in the cars by Silverstone, round nine. If the points value of the last three races is doubled (effectively making them six races), it means the Red Bull could potentially enjoy the equivalent of 14 on-form races (rather than 11) to negate its eight off-form early-season events.

f1  Double points logic becomes clear

Competitively weighting the championship in this way has understandably met with almost universal derision. Even Red Bull’s Adrian Newey and Sebastian Vettel have spoken out against the idea. But Horner has said, “it would certainly take away the lottery element of that last race,” thereby seeming to give Bernie’s idea his tacit approval. Wonder why that might be?

This crazy plan has to be stopped. In theory the double points idea needs the unanimous support of all the teams – and of Jean Todt at the FIA – for it to be enshrined in the regulations before the season starts. Many of the teams do not share Bernie’s enthusiasm for the idea so one might normally suppose this would ensure it wouldn’t happen and sanity would prevail. But don’t bet on it. Bernie has many devices of influence.

More from Mark Hughes
The Villeneuves at Trois-Rivières
Kevin Magnussen impressing McLaren
Has the Red Bull era come to an end?

f1  Double points logic becomes clear

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44 comments on Double-points logic becomes clear

  1. Michael Kavanagh, 21 February 2014 15:10

    Given recent events in the courts and the subsequent silence of CVC Capital Partners, I doubt somehow that Bernie Ecclestone will be still running F1 by the time the double points concept comes around …

  2. Ray In Toronto, Canada (Ray T (The other one)), 21 February 2014 15:34

    It would be indeed ironic – to the ‘outside’ world of us mere mortals who sit on this side of the computer screens – if Red Bull scored a 1-2 at Abu Dhabi to ‘pip’ the Drivers World Championship by a point or two from Hamilton or Rosberg or Alonso or Raikkonen or Button after having DNF’d the RB10s in the initial few meetings…

  3. Morris Minor, 21 February 2014 15:42

    Given the Newey/Vettel open derision of the planned entertainment fudge, we can assume; they were not aware what lay in the mist Mr. Hughes has just blown away.

    Or that they were aware, at the time, and stood for racing integrity.

    Either way, if it is imposed, and RB win the Titles again, then it will be the straw on Newey’s back that surely will make the America’s Cup yachties gleeful.

  4. IM, 21 February 2014 16:21

    I hope this is just an absurd conspiracy theory. If not, it’s time for the teams to vote with their feet and set up on their own. Actually it’s that time even if this is fact….

  5. Barry Glading, 21 February 2014 17:29

    ‘Conspiracy theory’ was the term that came to mind as I read this piece. ‘Absurd’ didn’t.
    I am sure Mark Hughes has a far better finger on the pulse of the inside of F1 than I do. ‘No smoke without fire’ is the phrase that comes to mind.
    I may be one of the few who cares not a jot for a ‘championship’, but rather only interested in race wins, so points/no points/double points is quite meaningless, as far as I’m concerned.
    Cheers

  6. Lewis Lane, 21 February 2014 18:59

    “Conspiracy theory” didn’t come in to my mind : “Ferrari technical veto” did. Different era, different faces – same favouritism. If this has any grain of truth in it at all, (and it has a worrying logic…), then you have to wonder if F1 hasn’t just become a mechanised version of wrestling.
    Shame on me for thinking that any sport shouldn’t be fixed for the benefit any one participant over the others…
    If it turns out to have any substance – i’m finished with F1.

  7. Mike Byron, 21 February 2014 20:07

    The sooner Mr Ecclestone and Grand Prix (alias F1) become separated the better, I am afraid all of his influence has done is water down ‘the product’, be-gone with you man.

  8. John B, 21 February 2014 21:15

    Double point for any round is a joke and has to go.
    F1 is about to jump the shark.

  9. Chris Hall, 21 February 2014 21:30

    All rather flies in the face of Bernie’s desire to introduce Gold, Silver and Bronze medals for each race with the most golds winning the championship doesn’t it ……………

  10. Anthony Jenkins, 21 February 2014 21:43

    Bernie is about money. Nothing more. The sport- its history, integrity and fans- comes last.
    He’s in charge ( until incarcerated, ) so if the fans don’t like it, tough!

  11. Morris Minor, 22 February 2014 00:39

    “All rather flies in the face of Bernie’s desire to introduce Gold, Silver and Bronze medals for each race with the most golds winning the championship doesn’t it ……………”

    Good point Sir, unless he introduces double medals for the final trio of events.

    Akin to DFC and bar, the RAF employs during festivities.

    Yes, it’s now “Jeux sans Frontières ” without Mr. Waring.

  12. Michael Kavanagh, 22 February 2014 06:41

    Am I alone in seeing the irony in Mr Ecclestone’s recent High Court appearance being conducted before Mr Justice Newey? From now on, anyone who tells me that judges are allocated to cases on a ‘cab rank’ principle will incur my disbelief …

  13. Steve W, 22 February 2014 10:07

    So are you all going to change your name to MotorSport Tabloid?

  14. Piero Dessimone, 22 February 2014 17:26

    Farce 1 at its best (or worst).
    It’s beyond my understanding why a magazine like Motor Sport should be writing about it !

  15. Steven Longo, 22 February 2014 18:18

    I can’t stand the thought of double points in F1!!! It seems to me that if its allowed F1 will lose all it’s credibility as the pinnacle of motor sport!!!

  16. Colin Blackhall, 23 February 2014 12:50

    Given the apparent problems of the Renault engine it does look like a master stroke to offer double points at the end of the season.
    Nevertheless, not even Ecclestone could be credited with this foresight when the plan was first mooted – it has got to be a (lucky?) coincidence.
    Formula 1 craves publicity and this it will have in spades when Ecclestone goes on trial later this year. Corporate backing of the circus is going to become very nervous…

  17. JP, 23 February 2014 13:51

    So it’s a known fact that Red Bull’s car will be dominant in the second half of the season is it?

  18. David H, 23 February 2014 18:04

    Horner has a good point in it would not make the last race a lottery….. better to make the last three a lottery. Hmmm, come to think of it he should tell Bernie to raise his sprinkler idea again. My memory is it too was derided as a lottery, but if used in three races, or better yet, in all, that would put done to all those silly critics of any BE idea.

  19. ray fk, 23 February 2014 19:47

    Modern F1 has just become a massive joke that nobody really gives a toss about.Safety and cost cutting have destroyed it’s entire ethos.R.I.P Formula 1.

  20. Frank, 23 February 2014 22:59

    Mark, I love your stuff, but if you believe this then you must be on crack.

  21. Mark Hughes, 24 February 2014 10:49

    Ha-ha Frank! No crack necessary. But I’m not suggesting it’s been done specifically to favour Red Bull, as some seem to have assumed, but simply to keep the title fight alive for as long as possible from the perspective of the series’ promoter. Initially it was one race. But the timing of the idea of three races co-incided with first indications of Renault problems and Mercedes strength. Still a wrong-headed idea, whatever you assume the motivations are.

  22. Colin Blackhall, 24 February 2014 11:49

    Over the last few seasons it has been argued that development of a car ceases half way through the season if it is uncompetitive. Might not a double points system encourage more effort throughout the season?
    Whatever, the idea is yet another example of meddling that brings the “sport” ever closer to becoming a joke.

  23. Pat Kenny, 24 February 2014 12:18

    This is still about advertising figures. BE only cares about this and a longer “lucky dog” type run in the more like mindless TV game/talent shows it becomes and more disinterested new viewers turn up. BE knows that any Renault powered car will likely score more towards the end of the season so the Team Principal (whose job is on the line) and who turns up at these meetings may be sorely tempted to give their team a bigger chance. RB’s TP was always in favour of the longer double points lucky dog run in – again thinking like a TP who wants his bonus this year knowing that in recent times his team has been, by far, the strongest finisher. The BE maths only adds up if the core fans are not alienated though and the TV companies are willing to be complicit in the absolute corruption of the sport. It is time for the team owners who have a longer term view to snap their disposable employees into line – double points gone, BE gone too and someone with a knowledge and respect for the past of the sport and a view of the future grounded in all that to take over,

  24. Mikey, 24 February 2014 12:39

    Why this constant desire to spice up The Show? The belief that one needs to attract the casual fan/viewer seems flawed to me. Casual means just that; no matter what is done there is no guarantee of long term fidelity to the sport. A “Down To The Wire” finale is not necessary, neither are double points races – the series is awash with points as it is. Give points for pole etc… but a point for limping home in the midfield? It is as if they no longer have faith in Formula 1 or its fan base.

  25. Steve W, 25 February 2014 10:31

    This is getting ridiculous… OK, as long as the points system is being messed with, why not just constantly adjust the points earned throughout the season until… all the teams and drivers are dead-level on points going into the last race? Think how exciting that will be!

    Good grief…

  26. PHIL DARBY, 25 February 2014 13:45

    I’ve got an idea . What about 6 points for a win reducing down to 1 point for sixth place with an extra point for fastest lap and an extra point for Pole Position . I wonder where I got such an idea !!! and would it work .

  27. PropJoe, 25 February 2014 15:29

    We should ‘reward’ the FIA and Bernie for their brilliant plan, and simply skip watching all races except the last 3.

    Maybe Motorsportmagazine and other media could join in, and instead of making race reports, provide articles about the many great sides of gardening in the F1 section, next to fantastic reports of great racing in other series where the organisers dont treat the fans as a bunch of cattle, or at least not as much as mr Ecclestone.

  28. Rupert McLean, 25 February 2014 16:31

    Bernie originally went for double points at the one (final) race and everyone objected. So he changed that to the final three races and surprise surprise, everyone will compromise on the final race only and Bernie will get what he set out to achieve in the first place… the circus continues.

  29. Kevin Stow, 26 February 2014 08:38

    It’s a real shame that the double points are exclusively for RedBull/Vettel. First the 2014 regulation-changes in car and power-unit specs clearly in favour of RedBull/Vettel, now this!

  30. The Wizz, 26 February 2014 15:04

    If there is a desire to make the points system more exciting why not return to the old system of only counting a number of races, say 12 or 14. This would place pressure on the leading teams in the championship as it reaches its conclusion as their potential to increase their points total would be less than the chasing pack. It would also have the benefit that drivers taken out of a grand prix by poor driving on the part of others or other circumstances beyong their control would not be so adversely impacted.

  31. Paul Foster, 26 February 2014 18:25

    FACT : Triple points at the last 3 races would have cost BUTTON the Title in 2009 – S Vettel would have been victorious… Great for the show? Who has the most to gain? Simple – those with the biggest resources (ie.$$) for in-season development. Status Quo preserved yet again Bernie…

  32. CraigyMc, 27 February 2014 20:26

    In 2009, Mercedes were not yet a team, they were an engine supplier. McLaren were the main customer, and their KERS system was supplied by Zytek.

    Article premise flawed.

  33. Mark Hughes, 28 February 2014 23:31

    Not quite following your point there CraigyMc. The point is that Mercedes High Performance Engines at Brixworth developed the KERS then and is developing the ers now. In contrast to Renault where the teams developed it then but the engine manufacturer is developing it now. So Merc (the engine supplier) and Ferrari had a building block Renault Sport did not. Zytec supplied the motor generator and some associated parts, Brixworth (ie the Merc engine builder) developed the KERS. Hope that clarifies.

  34. denis jolly, 1 March 2014 19:22

    Logic? What do they take race fans for? Stuff this s***. I’ll only be watching Indycars and sports cars in 2014.

  35. denis jolly, 1 March 2014 19:45

    P,S. Excuse my language, but ‘Jenks’ foresaw all this would happen 40 years ago, when that red, gold and white Lotus 49 rolled out of the pits in the Tasman Series.

  36. Karina, 4 March 2014 18:41

    Why not 2 races in Abu Dhabi,1 Sat day, 1 Sun night, same end of season cliff hanger effect as double points but doesn’t devalue other races,more money for Bernie and teams ,20 races,maybe a grand finale with GP2 reverse grid.

  37. Adam Macdonald, 4 March 2014 21:20

    It was first reported on thejudge13 about Renault’s timescale for fixing their problems. With homologation not being extended, there is no guarantee the powertrain will be working properly by then.

  38. Paul Adey, 7 March 2014 12:43

    Why don’t we cut to the chase? Let’s get BE to tell us who will win the championship this year and then we can get out in the garden on the weekend and not waste our time watching an event that has been ‘stage managed’.

  39. joseph winslett, 7 March 2014 13:18

    “Double points” are a very stupid idea!! I wager the majority of F1 fans would prefer to leave the point system the way it is.
    If a driver accumulates enough points to win the championship then he is the champion; no matter at what point this occurs during the season.
    This last 3 race “double points” ….pure rubbish!!

  40. Steve Taylor, 7 March 2014 15:50

    If conspiracy theories still abound then there could very well be a plan in Bernie’s elderly but lively mind to keep the contest alive. But for me it smacks of more contrivance and less competition. I pray for a time when we can go pure racing without DRS, KERS, and tyres that fall apart.
    Gordon Murray makes a great deal of sense in his latest podcast. Give some skill back to the drivers and take away some of those aids that make all the cars look and behave the same. GP racing is a simple sport. Put a good driver in a fast car and let him race. The organisers and promoters have made it complicated and the fans, you and me are becoming dissolutioned.

  41. Johnnie Crean, 7 March 2014 16:17

    What if every team’s income was fueled by fan interest, one car/driver had won 4 years in a row, which caused attendance and tv ratings to drop at the last few races, and this adversely impacted income? What if reliability and set up and fewer driver errors improved as the season progressed? Why not make the last 3 races double points, so season ending fastest cars can make a run, if they were not so at the beginning?

    It is very common in sports to have knock out tournaments at end of season to determine winner, rather than a season long accumulation of points. Double points is sort of a hybrid. Certainly we don’t want the final race to just have 2 cars. Indy with 6 was pretty boring!

  42. Chris LB, 7 March 2014 18:10

    The whole double points thing is ludicrous. If Renault are having problems then they need to sort it out without the artificial assistance of double points the same as the other teams

  43. Bob Hart, 7 March 2014 19:21

    I can just see the 2 World Champions scenario emerging for every year, the one who won the championship with extra points for the last race…..and the one who would have been champion if all the points had been equally allocated…..think of the debates in future……..don’t want to see it ,but it would spark some great pub debates.

  44. David Oliver, 25 March 2014 16:12

    Cynical or what. Surely this sort of manipulation cannot happen in our sport

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