Marco Wittmann, Toro Rosso, Red Bull Ring, 2015

The winners from F1’s superlicence points change

2015 F1 season

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The FIA has revised and expanded its superlicence points system which will decide which new drivers are allowed to race in F1 from 2016.

Dozens of drivers have gained from the changes – but how many of them are actually likely to end up racing in F1 in future?

Superlicence points change beneficiaries

DTM, WTCC and Indy Lights drivers now accumulate superlicence points and some of them have enough to qualify almost immediately. Four-time World Touring Car Champion Yvan Muller leads the table on 37 points, although the 45-year-old would be F1’s most senior driver for decades if he made the switch.

This change is particularly good news for the junior touring car drivers, particularly those in the DTM, from which the likes of Paul di Resta and Christijan Albers have previously graduated to F1. Reigning champion Marco Wittmann, who recently tested for Toro Rosso, stands to benefit from the change. Mercedes test driver Pascal Wehrlein is third in the standings at present.

Indy Lights drivers have also been added to the points structure, although it has been many years since a driver moved through the ranks of American single-seater racing to graduate into F1.

Oliver Rowland, Formula Renault 3.5, Red Bull Ring, 2015Of the drivers who had points under the original system, 22-year-old racer Oliver Rowland stands to gain the most. The British driver, who extended his Formula Renault 3.5 championship lead with a win and a second place at the Red Bull Ring on Sunday, has seen his tally more than double to 30 points which puts him three-quarters of the way towards qualifying for an F1 superlicence.

With Formula Renault 3.5 now awarding almost as many points to its champion as GP2, Rowland only has to finish in the top five this year to ensure he qualifies for an F1 superlicence in 2016.

The increased points allocation to the Formula Renault championships is also good news for McLaren’s junior driver Nyck de Vries. He scooped two Formula Renault 2.0 championships last year, which are now worth twice what they once were, putting him past the halfway mark on his way to the crucial 40. Antonio Felix da Costa’s Formula Renault 3.5 successes have also earned him greater rewards.

Perhaps most significantly last year’s Formula Renault 3.5 champion Carlos Sainz Jnr, who would not have qualified to participate in F1 this year under the scheme as it was originally envisaged, would now clear the threshold with 43 points instead of 38.

Japanese Super Formula is one of the fastest championships outside of F1, yet even its increased points allocation probably does not adequately reflect that. However it does mean the driver who already had the largest superlicence tally – Andre Lotterer – now has even more.

IndyCar’s feeder series Indy Lights has also been included for the first time, which boosts Carlos Munoz and Jack Harvey up the points standings.

RevisedOriginalGainChampionships counted
Yvan Muller37037WTCC 2014, WTCC 2013, WTCC 2012
Mike Rockenfeller32032DTM 2014, DTM 2013, DTM 2012
Gabby Chaves27027Indy Lights 2014, Indy Lights 2013
Bruno Spengler25025DTM 2013, DTM 2012
Gabriele Tarquini22022WTCC 2014, WTCC 2013, WTCC 2012
Rob Huff22022WTCC 2013, WTCC 2012
Mattias Ekstrom17017DTM 2014, DTM 2013, DTM 2012
Oliver Rowland301416Formula Renault 3.5 2014, Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup 2013, Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup 2012, Formula Renault 2.0 NEC 2013
Marco Wittmann16016DTM 2014, DTM 2013
Carlos Munoz18315IndyCar 2014, Indy Lights 2013, Indy Lights 2012
Gary Paffett15015DTM 2013, DTM 2012
Jose Maria Lopez15015WTCC 2014
Sage Karam15015Indy Lights 2013
Tristan Vautier15015Indy Lights 2012
Christian Vietoris14014DTM 2014, DTM 2013
Augusto Farfus14014DTM 2013, DTM 2012
Andre Lotterer14513213WEC LMP1 2014, WEC LMP1 2013, WEC LMP1 2012, Super Formula 2014, Super Formula 2013, Super Formula 2012
Kazuki Nakajima635013WEC LMP1 2014, Super Formula 2014, Super Formula 2013, Super Formula 2012
Norbert Michelisz13013WTCC 2014, WTCC 2013, WTCC 2012
Jack Harvey291712GP3 2013, British F3 2012, Indy Lights 2014
Nyck De Vries221012Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup 2014, Formula Renault 2.0 ALPS 2014, Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup 2013, Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup 2012
Alain Menu12012WTCC 2012
Zach Veach12012Indy Lights 2014, Indy Lights 2013
Esteban Guerrieri12012Indy Lights 2012
Stoffel Vandoorne756510GP2 2014, Formula Renault 3.5 2013, Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup 2012
Loic Duval807010WEC LMP1 2014, WEC LMP1 2013, WEC LMP1 2012, Super Formula 2014, Super Formula 2013, Super Formula 2012
Antonio Felix da Costa504010GP3 2012, Formula Renault 3.5 2013, Formula Renault 3.5 2012
Pierre Gasly352510Formula Renault 3.5 2014, Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup 2013
Edoardo Mortara10010DTM 2014, DTM 2012
Jamie Green10010DTM 2012
Sebastien Loeb10010WTCC 2014
James Nash10010WTCC 2013
Gustavo Yacaman10010Indy Lights 2012

Charles Leclerc, Van Amersfoort, European F3, Silverstone, 2015Other drivers to have benefitted from the change are top Japanese Super Formula racer Joao Paulo de Oliveira, who moves up from 25 points to 34.

European F3 race winner Jake Dennis has seen his tally more than double, rising to 15. Rival Charles Leclerc, currently second in the standings, rises from three points to ten, thanks in part to the FIA’s decision to including karting in the points system.

Only three drivers have smaller points tallies due to the revised structure. These are the three most recent GP2 champions – Jolyon Palmer, Fabio Leimer and Davide Valsecchi – who have lost ten points each but all have at least 40.

But will the changes actually make it easier for the most promising junior drivers to reach F1 at a time when most of them need to bring budgets? As Rowland reflected when the superlicence points system was first announced, “It’s the 20 million I’m more interested in finding than my super licence.”

See a complete list of how many superlicence points every driver has here:

Revised 2016 F1 superlicence points distribution

Championship1st2nd3rd4th5th6th7th8th9th10thTotal
Future FIA F2 championship4040403020108643201
GP2404030201086432163
FIA F3 European championship40302010864321124
World Endurance Championship (LMP1 only)40302010864321124
IndyCar40302010864321124
Formula Renault 3.5352520151075321123
GP33020151075321093
Japanese Super Formula2520151075321088
FIA WTCC151210753210055
DTM151210753210055
Indy Lights151210753210055
National FIA Formula Four championships12107532100040
National Formula Three championships1075310000026
Formula Renault 2.0 (EuroCup, ALPS or NEC)1075310000026
CIK-FIA World Championships (Senior)532100000011

2015 F1 season

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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29 comments on “The winners from F1’s superlicence points change”

  1. Loitterer really is F1’s loss

    1. Totally. He’s a superb talent and definitely the driver I think best placed to pick up the baton from Tom Kristenen as one of the greats of sportscar racing.

      1. @mazdachris Pick-up? For me he always was next to Kristensen, just at the beginning of his career and less lucky.

  2. I know that I bash on about it constantly on Twitter and sometimes on here, but I’m still amazed that the F3 European Championship awards more points than Formula Renault 3.5. It’s ridiculous.

    1. Unless you end up 4th, 5th, 6th or 7th, strangely…

      @craig-o

    2. Well it’s nonsense so, no reason not to.

    3. @craig-o agree wholeheartedly.

      It’s not just an issue of fairness.

      The massive number of points on offer to Euro F3 competitors appears to have attracted a phalanxx of karting graduates this season, who are doing their first season of car racing at a level which is probably beyond a lot of them. Not everyone has Verstappen like levels of talent at 16.

      It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that there’s a connection between the number of serious crashes we are seeing this year in F3 and the rich picking super licence points on offer.

      Maybe the answer is for the Euro F3 championship to require that entrants do a season in F4, national F3 or FR2.0 before they can graduate to the European championship.

      Mind you, one of this season’s worst offenders, Lance Stroll, did last year in F4 so obviously there’s no panacea.

      Overall I do think the revised system is an improvement over the original proposal, although I would still prefer that, subject to basic competence and safety levels, it was left to the teams to decide who they think is ready to graduate to F1.

    4. I assume it’s to give the FIA series (F3, future F2) more clout/cred. Why else would cars with ~200 hp, ferrous brakes, and no DRS be ranked higher than cars with 530hp (and only weighing 50kg more), carbon brakes, and DRS?

      By the way, checked out the website of European F3 to make sure I was correct, and under “regulations” it says:

      “…the drivers should not overdo it: Even in the case of a crash resulting in a massively damaged chassis, replacing the chassis during the course of an event is prohibited.” I’m assuming the crash-box/center cell is therefore VERY strong, but REALLY???

  3. Shouldn’t Pascal Wehrlein be in the table, or have I missed the context?

    1. @optimaximal No he’s only picked up one point because of the change. You can find him in the full table here:

      http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2015/07/15/who-can-race-in-f1-in-2016-revised-superlicence-points-totals/

  4. I think Susie is the biggest winner.

    1. Thankfully, drivers with no results wont be able to get a superlicence!

  5. This is INSANE. It’s lovely to see drivers hopes dreams and careers crushed before our very eyes. Hurdles, hurdles, lets put lots of hurdles in place that’ll be great, who doesn’t like hurdles?! I’m still in denial with all of this, it just seems like a crazy nightmare that surely can’t exist in reality. Can it?

    1. @unicron2002 God forbid a driver has to prove themselves before moving to the highest tier of single-seater racing.

      1. @ciaran I agree, the idea behind it all is one I’m really supporting…

      2. Well quite, drivers have managed to prove themselves for the past 65 years in F1, the cream rises to the top. Good way of stopping drivers like Lavaggi, Deletraz and Gounon getting drives though… but we’re a bit late for that, that was in the mid 90s. Now this system has come in to stop… Gasly, Ocon and Rosenqvist. Thank God for that, that would be a DISASTER if these talented guys got drives! Phew, close one ;)

  6. What’s the latest on the American Rossi? Does he already have a superlicense? Surely he must be one of Haas picks? Get him and an old timer

    1. @ibrahim He currently has a Super License but to renew it next year, he’d have to be considered for the points table above, unless he happens to start 5 races this season…

      1. He’s second in the GP2 standings right now, which would give him just enough points for his Super License.

  7. The FIA have relented, and Rowland, de Vries, Vandoorne and Gasly have gotten more recognition of their talents. They would be a good improvement on Gutierrez, Stevens, Ericsson, Merhi..

    1. @fastiesty I really don’t get the hype about de Vries.

      It took him three goes to win the Eurocup title. I can’t think of any major talent to emerge in recent times who needed that many attempts. And it was hardly a stellar year for talent when he finally won.

      This year he’s currently running fifth in FR3.5, well behind the leaders. That’s certainly not terrible, but given the flight of talent to GP2 it’s not a standout performance. Compare that to the rookie years of guys like Ricciardo, Vergne, wickens, Frijns and Vandoorne and he’s doing just ok.

      Nothing I’ve seen from him since graduating from karts suggests he’s going to be great, as opposed to merely good.

      I agree with the other names you mention though.

      1. @tdog Indeed, but if those are his only yips then at least he’s gotten them out of the way early. Considering Stoneman has been delayed by a few years really de Vries is the best rookie this year in FR3.5. But I agree in that he will have to blossom soon, either winning FR3.5 next year or beating the best in GP2 in the next few years to really cut it.

  8. I really fail to see how LMP1 ranks on the same level as GP2. Then again both reward 40 points which is all you need.

    1. Or how Indycar is only 1 point above Renault 3.5 when Indycars have a level of driver talent and competitiveness that rivals F1. Indycars have around the same hp as F1 did 2 years ago, run mostly on street/road courses and do it all with less driver aids. The whole system is absurd though, they are saying that FIA knows who will be right for F1 and the teams don’t. Jaun Pablo Montoya can’t race in F1 under this system and he is former F1 and second in Indycar right now.

      1. @slo-mo Indycar is not on a level that rivals F1 in driver talent. Beyond the top few drivers Indycar is the place failed or poor quality F1 drivers go to. Bourdais and Sato being two and then the GP2/FR3.5/F3 drivers who weren’t good enough to be picked up by an F1 team, Pagenaud, Munoz, Jakes, Coletti, Filippi. Ask any one of those if they’d rather be in F1 and you will have your answer.

  9. I still don’t like this point system.

    1. @saubers1 I have to agree.

      Like in this instance, having a points based qualification system means things can be tweaked constantly. It opens up the possibility for the points to be tweaked instantaneously… but a driver’s previous results dont change, nor do their short term opportunities change (ie which formula they race in). That creates a bizarre chicken and egg situation.

      Trying to make the Future F2 championship an important step on the ladder to F1, by giving it lots of points, is so contrived!

  10. What I can’t believe is that points are now given for the WTCC but not for racing an LMP2 car. Surely racing in the WEC in an LMP2 car is better preparation and/or display of talent for F1 then racing a touring car?

    1. @thersquared It’s because of the ratings and the category regulations.
      LMP2 allows all driver ratings and all pairings MUST include at least one bronze or silver rated driver.
      LMP1 allows professional drivers exclusively and doesn’t allow bronze ratings (the so called “gentleman” drivers). Same as the WTCC for that matter.

      So it’s good logic actually.

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