Esteban Ocon, Manor, Interalgos, 2016

Manor’s demise shows F1’s points system problem – Lowe

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In the round-up: Williams chief technical officer Paddy Lowe says Formula 1’s points system does not accurately reflect the performance of teams at the back of the grid.

What they say

Lowe referred to the example of Manor in 2016, who went into the penultimate round at Interlagos 10th in the championship. They were out-scored by Sauber in a rain-hit race of high attrition and fell to 11th, which cost them a significant amount of prize money, leading to the team’s collapse during the off-season.

I brought this argument up when the points were being considered to extend to 15th or 20th. Unfortunately the way it is with Formula 1 being so tight and cars so reliable now compared to how they were in history as well I’m afraid it’s difficult for teams to reflect their performance in a balanced manner.

If you remember in 2016 when it rained here in this race, because of the rain Manor went out of business essentially, just because it rained on race day in Brazil and then Sauber had got some points.

The way the points system works at the moment it’s not very good at reflecting the proper team rankings.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Oliver Turvey, NIO, Formula E testing, Valencia, 2018
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Extremely smart move given Formula 1’s swing away from free-to-air in the UK. Really looking forward to this FE season.

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For those interested in FE demographics: I’m 29 and environmentally-conscious (like most of my friends), and have followed F1 with progressively waning enthusiasm for 21 years. Anything that makes FE easier to watch and feel more connected to (no pun intended) is a big plus.

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  • 42 comments on “Manor’s demise shows F1’s points system problem – Lowe”

    1. FE could give away free cars and I still wouldn’t care.

      1. oh my, how will they survive ;)

    2. Its not a point system problem, it is a money distribution problem.

      1. I don’t think it’s mutually exclusive. Even if there is a proper distribution of money amongst all teams, it’s still important that their final position in championship is accurately reflected based on their performance in the year. (Incidentally F1 could do worse than look at the premier league of how to distribute prize money in a way that rewards success, but gives those at the bottom a fair share.

        It’s a bit ridiculous situation at the moment that one team could have a driver finish 11th in every single race of a season, and another team could have their drivers finish last in every race, except one where they got lucky and get one driver into 10th, and then the second team walks away with more prize money.

      2. It’s both, to be honest. Equitable prize money distribution might make it easier for teams to remain in F1.

        Beyond that, there will always be a difference in prize money based on finishing position, and that’s the point that Lowe is making. If I were the team principal of a team that has consistently finished 11-15 and ends the year 10th in the WCC with no points, I might feel a bit cheated if a team that typically finishes 16-20 lucked into a single point at a race due to some external factor (e.g. a luckily timed VSC) thereby earning 9th in the WCC, and an extra $10 million prize money.

        It could be argued that this is racing luck and one’s good luck averages out the bad, but I’d counter that its not luck/chance if the rules are structured to promote such an outcome.

        1. Problem is a single team leeching most of the prize money who can finish 3rd and still get more prize money than top 2 teams in WCC. And a bigger middle finger to other teams is this very team getting special rights just because- “heritage”. More balanced prize money distribution along with equalising treatment to all teams is the way forward. When a team like Force India consitently finishing 4th in WCC struggling to make ends meet is a good sign of sick F1 has become under the old regime of dictator Bernie.

        2. Prize money distribution will solve that @phylyp.
          A fair prize money distribution system will not have a $10m gap between 9th and 10th.

          1. @coldfly – well, the other argument is simply losing the WCC ranking, irrespective of the financial hit of any arbitrary figure, being classified last in the constructors, or fifth (not even best of the rest).

            I was originally of the opinion that points for the top ten was sufficient, but have since revised my opinion having seen the arguments made by others to the benefits of awarding points to all finishing/classified positions.

            1. In effect they do award ‘points’ to all finishing cars, @phylyp.
              If finishing 11th you get more ‘points’ than another driver finishing 21x 12th: count it like 11th = 0.01pt, 12th = 0.0001pt, etc.

              The problem is that (some) people believe this is not fair. I agree that they have a strong argument, but there will be strong arguments about all point systems and opinions that it is ‘not fair’.

              Let’s focus on something which is truly broken.

            2. @coldfly – ah yes, you’re referring to the finishing positions. I also see that in your virtual points example, you cleverly spaced the points away by factors of 100 instead of 10, to avoid the argument that eleven 12th place finishes should better a single 11th and ten DNFs. Cheeky ;-)

              For me, the only complaint in fiddling with the points system is that it again messes up a bunch of statistics, that makes it harder to compare achievements between eras.

            3. you cleverly …

              you make me blush, @phylyp.

      3. Indeed. The problem is only 10 teams getting any prize money, regardless of how well / poor the teams in 9th / 10th / 11th actually do.

        If we had 13 teams, and points down to 15th, what’s to say that a wet race and finishing 15th wouldn’t result in the same outcome.

      4. Manor went under because the “Bernie money” is only distributed to the top 10 teams in the championship. Manor finished 11th in 2016 and, together with their results from the previous seasons, that made them ineligible for a payout.

        It’s nothing to do with the points system. Everyone who competes in the championship should get a fair share of the revenue it generates.

      5. Exactly. Even if everybody gets points, someone is going to finish last. As long as the winner gets ten-times more than the 10th place and 11th place gets nothing, who cares how many points they scored?

      6. I agree. To add to Manor’s misery the TV cameras at that time were ordered to concentrate on the leading cars and to ignore those at the back of the field, meaning Manor couldn’t charge as much for advertising as the cars at the front of the field. Fortunately Liberty Media are doing a better job of giving all the teams more air time.

      1. @phylyp indeed, but I think it is sad that the emotions are running so high that @keithcollantine feels the need to ‘defend’ himself. I get that Verstappen is a ‘you hate him or you love him’-kind of guy but I feel that there are getting more and more users that argue for the sake of offending others. By no means it’s as bad as on some other websites, but it’s worrying. It’s ‘just’ F1, no need to offend or feel offended so easily.

        1. Agree on both @matthijs.
          – unfortunately too many trolls attacking a commenter, rather than arguing their own position.
          – and yes Verstappen is clearly part of the ‘you hate him or you love him’ league. Good for him as only great drivers make it that far (Hamilton, Vettel, Alonso). Bad because it creates many poorly argumented comments by both ‘camps’.

    3. Everytime I read that Sauber/Nasr got lucky in that rainy day I think people should see this lap:

      Nasr was superb that day, most of the cars that did abandon the race was already behind him.

      And the problem isn’t the point system, but the money distribution system.

      1. I don’t think anyone questions the quality of this particular drive. The issue is that one race affected by external circumstances essentially put out a team out of business because it made it seem that the end result is reflective of the team’s performance across the entire season. Which wasn’t the case at all.

      2. @miani Although I feel sad about the demise of Manor, I feel that it was either Manor or Sauber that would go bankrupt that particular day in Brazil 2016. Looking at Sauber now, I think that we can be very greatful that Sauber was able to survive.

    4. Apparently the Deodoro Autodrome in Rio is being built, and MotoGP might race there in 2021. Maybe F1 May return there?

    5. For those like Palmer who think Max showed some kind of incredible skill on Sunday, I think it’s worth noting that those that were in front of him at the start had way more to lose that he did when it came to defending.

      The Mercedes and Ferrari cars recognised that they were in a fight for the WCC and consequently did the smart thing and gave him room. That really has been the story for the last few races – the front runners in the WDC and WCC (with the exception of Vettel and we know how that worked out) all saw it was Max and simply got out of his way knowing full well that if they didn’t they’d run the risk of car damage.

      Unfortunately at the time Ocon came up on him, he didn’t necessarily take the same approach. Yes he drove brilliantly, yes Ocon probably shouldn’t have gone for it but equally he could’ve taken a leaf from his own book.

      He’s been expecting cars, particularly the Mercs and Ferrari’s to move over because they had more to lose. At the beginning of 2019, I suspect he’ll have a much harder time when all drivers will be keen to defend their positions a lot more forcefully until one or two of them draw clear in the title race because like him that won’t have a lot to lose early on.

    6. @dbradock

      At the beginning of 2019, I suspect he’ll have a much harder time when all drivers will be keen to defend their positions a lot more forcefully until one or two of them draw clear in the title race because like him that won’t have a lot to lose early on.

      Just like in early 2018. Let’s see if Verstappen learned from his mistakes next year.

    7. Another well written and superbly argumented article by Palmer. I really enjoy his trace reviewed with an inside POV.
      I don’t agree with all he says, but a great article.

      1. “trace reviewed” = race reviews
        note to self: without edit button don’t use swipe on a small screen mostly covered by the keyboard.

        1. @coldfly – ah, swipe keyboards, the bane of modern typists. You’re already framing the next word not realizing the phone got your previous one wrong :-)

    8. I thought the Palmer article was great. Very balanced. Incident with both drivers at fault, tempers running high. Nice paddock view.

      1. @hahostolze @coldfly – yep, I have enjoyed reading Palmer’s articles. He’s a good pick by the BBC. I’m happy that he’s found his true calling, and also burnished it with some relevant experience until last year ;-)

        I like the fact that most articles often include an example of a similar incident he was involved in, ones where he’s often in the wrong as well. That’s a nice touch of humility.

    9. “I just wanted to go to him an ask what was that all about. He then said with a smirk on his face that he was quicker than me.”

      So? that was true! it’s not like he said “ha ha i am glad i hit you”.
      this just goes to show VER was set on creating problems, that he thinks he’s a little god and no one has the right to overtake him, to unlap themselves.
      I also find hilarious those stupid comments from i.e. Charlie and others, saying you are only to unlap yourself without fighting the leader. Seriously? How do you want to ever overtake then, if there’s no fighting? You think cars will just get out of their way like that Hass did for Ferrari?

    10. On the MSA story, this doesn’t just seem to be a marketing rebrand but an actual change in approach. At the very grass roots level of karting for example they are doing away with the old Super One series which for years has been the de facto British Karting championship. And although this series has had a hand in producing pretty much all future British F1 drivers it has become increasingly insular with increasing costs and decreasing grids.
      This is being replaced with an official MSA (Motorsport UK) British championship and despite it being very early in development they have made one big change which I think shows they have the right approach. Whereas Super One would charge circuits to host events, the new championship will be paying circuits to hold rounds. Injecting some much needed money into the foundations of British motorsport.

    11. I can see where Lowe is coming from, but still, I don’t necessarily agree with him that the example of Manor would justify a revised points-system. In the end, it’s more about the money-distribution than the points-system as a few other users have pointed out above.
      – Great column by Palmer, perhaps even the best from him so far. I wholeheartedly agree with him on everything in the column.
      – I also agree with Brundle concerning the precedent set by the Stewards’ decision on Vettel’s weighbridge incident.

    12. So Lowe thinks they will stay at the back of the grid therefore he’s fighting for points system change to score anything in the future?

      1. That was my first thought as well, although I didn’t put down a comment to that effect as I’ve been quite uncharitable towards Williams of late. :-)

        Anyway, since you’ve brought it up, what I wanted to say was “Williams can’t bring their car to the points, so they’re bringing the points to the car”.

    13. If you extend the points system this season down to 20th using a sensible points distribution (one commensurate with the existing spread), the WCC order does not change. Maybe this season is an anomoly, or maybe 2016 was an anomoly. I don’t think the points system as it currently stands is that bad, especially considering the lack of teams on the grid. Perhaps if they went to 12 or 13 teams they could extend the points to reflect up to half of the grid slots, the way it currently does.

      FWIW I used 1,2,4,6,8,10,12,14,16,18,20,22,24,26,28,30,33,35,40,50 and all that happened was Sauber in 8th got closer to McLaren in 7th.

    14. Not to drag the conversation on, but only because there are articles above about it from Max, Palmer, and Brundle, here’s my bottom line takeaway from Max/Ocon…

      Ocon was in the wrong to aggressively battle with Max the race leader. The closest anyone who matters within F1 or the media has come to defending Ocon for that move was his own team principal bottom lining it that Ocon has a right to unlap himself, end of.

      There is a history there between the two, and there is no way Ocon would have done that to LH, so I believe it was a choice of Ocon’s, and I do not mean to purposely take Max out, but certainly to purposely battle him, yes, whereas he wouldn’t have gone near LH.

      Max was wrong to push Ocon, but given the atmosphere and the scenario it is a stretch to call that violence akin with what real violence is. This was heat of the moment stuff and there is no need for Max to seek counciling or what have you for anger management etc etc. No need to concern ourselves that Max is only going to be trouble going forward. Let’s give him some credit here.

      Ocon could have diffused the situation immediately by showing contrition and apologizing rather than goading Max on, and again, there’s a history there between them. Surely Ocon had to have expected some sort of harsh reaction from Max, and he chose to play off that rather than diffuse it. In many other instances the guilty driver has immediately apologized over the radio, or gone to the offended driver after the race rather than wait for the one offended to come to him asking for an explanation.

      LH claiming he would have left Ocon room is disingenuous because that is easy to say in hindsight having not been there, and because he and Ocon have worked together and of course he was going to defend Ocon vs a driver like Max who is not under the Mercedes umbrella and who will continue to be a threat in races to LH.

    15. I think the points reflect perfectly manor’s competitiveness and performance. If you are always last in qualifying with something like 2 seconds gap to the next car then 0 points is what you deserve. It is not historically good comparable number if you compare the manor, hrt and caterham to the minardis and other back markers from earlier times who scored more points but then again nothing is. We have more races per season, more people get points, 100 times better car reliability, cars that are easier to drive, tracks that are more forgiving…

      And it is purely money distribution problem. Because the teams’ income is directly linked to the points then not getting any points does hurt it. But I don’t think giving points to everybody fixes that issue. If you want to fix the issue then the first step is to disconnect the points from the money payouts. Give money based on positions. Not points. That way you can give money all the way from first to last car starting the race without having perverse motives to alter the points system to fix an issue elsewhere. The most clear indication of problems with f1 money distribution is that only top10 teams got points back then. Even if you’d give manor 100 points for finishing last in every session for 5 years straight they’d still finish 11th and as such no money for you (except the points payout).

      In my opinion top ten getting points is already very generous. I don’t think f1 points should be treated as participation rewards. While the older generations love their participation awards and rewards those should not have any place in formula 1. You can give teams money for participating but points should be something valuable and special, something like an achievement on its own. In the case of caterham, marussia and hrt they did not do well enough to receive points (except two cases in what 5 years). Manor can hold those 2 points it scored from monaco 2014 with pride. It did not deserve anymore but it did deserve those 2 points. But did it deserve basically nothing-money when it finished 11th with 0 points? They sure did not deserve any points but certainly deserved more money. Just like haas did deserve to be paid despite being the 11th team and not having the magical contract. F1 has money distribution problems. Not point distribution problems. Haas and manor and now the force india case are clear examples why money distribution is broken but points are not.

    16. What’s wrong, Paddy, is today’s “well done for taking part, everything is equal and everyone gets a cookie” culture. There is only one Winner. Everything else is just varying shades of Loser. ;-)
      That said, they should share the F1 money pot equally. Teams should fight for the honour of the podium. Make it more of a sport, not just a marketing exercise. The top teams can attract more sponsorship money anyway. Wishful thinking!

    17. Points are not the reason one team was inevitably going to go under at the end of 2016 – spending/income mismatches, compelled by the amount spent by rivals (even in the midfield) and augmented by decreasing incomes and all-or-nothing fights fot 10th, are the real reason.

      Changing the points system affects none of these issues.

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