Robert Kubica, Williams, Albert Park, 2019

New point for fastest lap could create “strange scenarios”

2019 Australian Grand Prix

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The new point on offer for the fastest lap could create “strange scenarios” at the end of races, according to Robert Kubica.

However the Williams driver said the new rule is unlikely to make a significant difference for Williams given their uncompetitive showing in pre-season testing.

“I think unfortunately it doesn’t affect us a lot at least for now,” said Kubica when asked for his view on the new rule, which RaceFans revealed last week.

Kubica said the rule could lead to a ‘domino effect’ of drivers pitting to take on fresh tyres to set the fastest lap at the end of the race.

“An extra point I think it can unlock some strange scenarios at the end of the race with some cars pitting. All of a sudden we will see people, cars coming in. It will depend, it will be a kind of domino I think.

“But as I said we are not really interested about it.”

Drivers will only be able to score a point for setting fastest lap if they finish inside the top 10. Daniel Ricciardo said he supported that aspect of the rule.

“It’s good that they’ve at least restricted it to the top 10 so you do have something potentially to lose if you’re going to pit for a fresh set of tyres to get the fastest lap,” he said.

“I haven’t really thought that much about it,” he added. “We’ll see how it plays out. I don’t think it will decide a championship. It could do, but I don’t think it will.”

However Sebastian Vettel doubts the new rule will make much difference to the racing.

“I don’t expect much change,” he said. “We’ll see after a couple of races if there actually is a change.”

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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 “New point for fastest lap could create “strange scenarios””

  1. I have this nagging feeling that at some point this rule will cause some sort of mayhem in the last few laps of a race that will end in tears.

    1. Probably Max pitting to go for fastest lap, accidentally loosing a place due tk a sticky wheel nut, then Gasly crashing and causing a SC finish before he sets a time.

      1. Sad to hear Kubica mention how it probably won’t affect Williams – since the car is unlikely to be either fast enough or run in the top 10.

        But his remark about

        “An extra point I think it can unlock some strange scenarios at the end of the race with some cars pitting. All of a sudden we will see people, cars coming in. It will depend, it will be a kind of domino I think.

        and your expectation of mayhem in the last few laps might just be the reason why F1 brought this in in the first place @bullmello

        Instead of the Sky team having to come up with convulted theories of why maybe Hamilton will come back at Vettel (or the other way round) in the last 20 laps, when everyone has their engines turned down to make us feel some excitement, we can now see how the likes of Gasly, Bottas and Leclerc are pitted to claim this last point (maybe after a Hulk, Norris or Perez has done the same already) since the gap behind them is so large they can do it without risk.

        I don’t think it will be Max going for that piont that often though @eurobrun, unless in the situation described above he ends up with the “second cars” so far behind, while running in third or fourth that RB can pit him too without any risk to his position.

  2. If done correctly it means 21 points for graps…

  3. Stephen Higgins
    14th March 2019, 8:06

    If you’ve got midfield runners flying around the track on qualy-style runs at the end of the race, potentially with the race leaders in the vicinity, then of course its going to get sticky …

  4. Matteo (@m-bagattini)
    14th March 2019, 8:27

    As the three big teams will be able to collect larger portions of points (and will surely favor lower machine stresses), I find this rule interesting for the 7th/10th placed car. Midfield will be hot this year, maybe more than last year. 21 more points on the table can change the outcome of a battle for 5th and lower championship position.

    1. Thing is, if a 7-10th place driver (that last one probably not, since they then risk dropping out of the top ten and all being to no avail) pits to do that fast lap @m-bagattini, that opens a gap for the 9th, 8th driver to do the same. Which opens up huge gap for the no 6 car, so then the no. 4-5 can also safely pit to do the same (maybe not if they are fighting) handing those points to the “second” cars of the top 3 teams. Or occasionally their no. 1 car if they hit trouble earlier on and are now out of reach of the podium but with a big gap behind to the “best of the rest”

      1. Matteo (@m-bagattini)
        14th March 2019, 8:52

        @bascb surely it’s a realistic scenario. But I think we reach a point where car in higher position (in your example, 4-5th) are:

        – Mercedes/Ferrari/RBR (to use last year’s pecking order): they’ll definitely won’t be interested in taking the risk of a pit-stop for just one point; they also will conserve engine/gearbox and so on

        – anyone else: they’ll definitely won’t risk to lose the “best of the rest” position. Last year when we had the likes of Gasly or Grosjean in 4th it was like a victory to them.

        In the end, it’s appetible when you’re risking few points and you’re in a position that is easily achievable race-by-race. Williams in 10th with a minute gap to 11th won’t go for it. Renault in the same situation would consider it.

      2. @bascb It will be done with 3 laps left of the race which doesn’t give the cars ahead time to do as you suggest.

        I am surprised though that no one has yet brought up the incentive this gives the top teams for running a counter strategy in Quali (starting on the harder tyre) which will put them in the position to set the fastest lap when they switch to the softer tyre towards the end of the race.

  5. All the doubts will be aswered this weekend. If the fastest piont just make a nagtive effect on the race, please just leave it there untill the end of this year. Don’t change it in the mid-season. And there is one thing that can be sure, that it will make some trouble to broadcast the fasest lap. Because it will be hard to notice when a driver start to push a flyinglap, and also the block will happen here and there. But we will see.

    1. Matteo (@m-bagattini)
      14th March 2019, 8:53

      @enzoli FOM will surely follow someone after a purple first sector or someone who pits with 5 laps to go

      1. As @m-bagattini mentions, it is almost a given that the cameras will focus on anyone pitting late to have a go at this point, unless we somehow have a very exciting race at the top, in which case maybe no one will have enough of a gap to go for it.

        But we will still see that “fastest lap” come up on screen even then, and surely be given at least a replay of (part of) that lap @enzoli

  6. This seems inspired from 1959 or so. In that year the race winner received 8 points with the fastest lap being awarded 1 point. So if it if it is to be let’s make it between 3&5 points for A fastet lap (not THE) fastest lap of the race. The lap that the points are awarded for would be randomly determined before the race and kept in strict secrecy or drawn following the race. At least competitors would have incentive to push each lap as they have no idea which laps time will be rewarded, instead of the final few laps frenzy. And the fastest on lap 27 ….the safety car! Which of course makes a nonsense of all this, but not much more so than exists now

    1. good idea

  7. Umm, will the leaders get blue flagged in the final few laps if a faster car is trying to set a faster lap?

    1. @WelshChris Umm Of course, not.

  8. That cascade would be fun to watch, but it will only begin if there’s a 25″ gap somewhere inside the top 10, which may rarely be the case if the midfield has indeed decreased the gap to the A-teams.

  9. I think we should not underestimate the championship contenders/front runners going for it on used tires in the final laps as well. They may not need to pit in some circumstances to be able to give it a shot. Could make for interesting moments. Of all the gimmicks this looks like the least worst one, at least.

    1. Yep, qualifying engine mode for 1 race lap

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      14th March 2019, 21:40

      @alfa145 That’s my thinking – if no-one pits, you could have everyone going for fastest lap in the final laps of the race on older tyres which could be interesting.

  10. They should have gone all out and made fastest lap worth 5 points, that would really put a spanner in the works, every race would be exciting in the last 10 laps!

    1. Actually… That’s a great idea! The while thing feels quite gimmicky and for the most fans fastest lap was never really all that meaningful, there’s the odd driver like Alonso who liked making them just to make a statement though and this makes that statement actually have meaning. I think it could actually upset some races and some will try and go for it and end up losing everything for that extra point, but 5 points would definitely focus the minds of the top 10. Why not! :p

  11. As I’m sure others will have noticed, there is a game theory problem here – a version of the “iterated prisoners’ dilemma” – but while the problem does not have the indefinite iteration that characterizes the classic scenarios, it does have other uncertainties, including multiple players with asymmetrical payoffs.

    Suppose that 5 cars are running 6th to 10th with 30 seconds between each car (v unlikely I know, but bear with me). Whichever is the first car to pit will create a nice big gap for the car in front, reducing their risk of pitting. Moreover, the later a car pits, the lighter the car and the greater the advantage. Thus, a car in p10 would probably only have a shot at the point on the last 2 laps – pit any earlier and that would give an advantage to the cars in front. But, a car in, say, p6 has more to lose, and less to gain proportionally, so it too may as well wait for the last few laps to decide whether to have a go.

    Now consider that the time gap between cars is highly dynamic. Probably only one or two cars will be in a position to stop for tyres and have a go, and the teams may well decide that the risks are not worth it for a single point. Doubtless they have been modelling this like mad. Perhaps there are some stable equilibria that can be exploited. More likely I think that these points will mostly go to teams in p6-p10 when the conditions are favourable. A flurry, or cascade, of cars pitting in the closing stages of a race would be great, but most likely rare. One measure that might improve this new element would be to limit the point to laps completed before a certain threshold in the race – in other words, you might get a fastest lap on the last lap, but it wouldn’t win the point. The extra point would only be available if completed in the first 75% (or whatever) of laps. Better still, make that cut-off random – that would create an incentive to go for the lap at the first opportunity.

    1. Nonsense, if a driver is going to do it he isn’t going to do it with more than 3 laps to go, precisely so that it doesn’t give the cars ahead enough time to pit into the new gap. Ace strategists arent that stupid.

      Adding a lap range where the lap must be set within just makes it all more gimmicky.

  12. The strangest scenario would be when an F1 race has variable weather.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      14th March 2019, 21:42

      That could be an amazing end to a race if it starts to dry up in the final few laps. Who is going to push it the hardest for a point? A mistake could be costly but an extra point could make all the difference at the end of the season.

  13. Bad idea. Stupid. Fix the real problems and skip the gimmicks.

  14. Stupid rule. Instead of fastest lap they’ve should be award the best qualifier – pole position.

  15. MaliceCooper
    14th March 2019, 20:44

    You think that scenario is strange? Just wait until next year when drivers in the top 10 will be able to fight for an extra point if they pit, put on a fancy dress costume, make their way under the netting, over the gunk pit, hit the buzzer and then sprint back to the cars to continue the race.

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