We’ve had over a week to digest the implications of the new points system the FIA has introduced to determine which drivers can compete in Formula One from 2016.
The rule means new drivers will only be allowed to race in F1 if they have accumulated at least 40 superlicence points over the previous three seasons based on which categories they have raced in and how well they have performed.
However concerns have been raised about the new system and the FIA has already indicated it could be revised. Do you think they have got the balance right?
Max Verstappen’s promotion to Formula One at the age of 17 after a single season in a junior formula showed the need for the FIA to take a more active stance when it comes to regulating which drivers deserve to get into F1.
Verstappen would be ineligible to race in F1 this year under the new system. The same goes for other drivers who have paid their way into F1 recently, such as Max Chilton, who is reported to have brought £7 million per year to race for Marussia.
The superlicence points system will make it harder for drivers to buy a grand prix seat, and it will force aspiring F1 racers to spend more time and have more success in the junior categories.
When concerns were raised in 2001 about Kimi Raikkonen’s suitability to compete in F1 having started just 23 Formula Renault 2.0 races, he was given a superlicence on a provisional basis. Those fears proved unfounded, and he went on to become a world champion.
In the same way the FIA has now pre-judged the suitability of Verstappen, who has started almost twice as many races as Raikkonen had. But instead of giving him the benefit of the doubt the FIA has hastily rewritten the rulebook, and in doing so they have reduced the teams’ freedom to pick whichever driver they consider best to race their cars.
As the sport’s regulator, it should be up to the FIA to determine who is competent enough to race an F1 car, but not who is competitive enough. Furthermore, their points system fails to reflect the competitive standards of each championship, and is clearly skewed to rank FIA-endorsed series much higher than the others.
I have a minor vested interest here as I commentated on Formula Renault 3.5 races last year. The superlicence points system seems to be partly aimed at re-establishing GP2 as F1’s preferred feeder series. Consider that none of the top two drivers in the GP2 standings in the last three seasons have made it into F1, whereas three of their counterparts from Formula Renault 3.5 have.
The case of Japanese Super Formula is even more galling. These cars lap within 5% of F1 times at tracks like Suzuka. Anyone who succeeds in this series can handle an grand prix car, yet the champion gets just 40% of what his GP2 equivalent earns.
Other worthy series like Auto GP, Euroformula Open and even the DTM – which Paul di Resta recently used to reach F1 – are ignored completely. Di Resta is one of many talented drivers, along with Daniel Ricciardo, Jean-Eric Vergne and others, who would have been excluded from making their F1 debuts under this system.
I do think the fact more drivers have been promoted to F1 based on their wallets rather than their talent is a cause for concern. But the root problem here is that teams have resorted to this measure because of F1’s high costs and unequal distribution of income. Once again, the FIA is applying sticking plasters and ignoring the deeper ailment.
I can understand why, particularly after last year’s reminders of the dangers of F1, some are wary about seeing a 17-year-old race at the top flight this year. So I don’t object to the minimum age limit of 18 the FIA has previously announced will come into force from next year. But the superlicence points system has little to do with improving the quality of F1 drivers, and is chiefly concerned with protecting the FIA’s interests.
Do you approve of the FIA’s new superlicence points system? How will it change the priorities of drivers trying to reach F1? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.
Do you agree the FIA's superlicence points system is a positive change for F1?
- Strongly agree (6%)
- Agree (33%)
- Neither (13%)
- Disagree (25%)
- Strongly disagree (22%)
- No opinion (1%)
Total Voters: 291
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