Ross Brawn, Interlagos, 2019

Point for fastest lap could create “controversial” finales

2019 F1 season

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The bonus point for fastest lap has the potential create controversy in championship-deciding races, according to the sport’s managing director for motorsport.

Ross Brawn described the rule, which was reintroduced this year, as “a very small victory” in F1’s efforts to change the sporting regulations. A later effort to introduce reverse-grid qualifying races at three rounds next year failed, but Brawn said the fastest lap bonus point decision had been vindicated.

“[It] had a lot of people up in arms when it started,” he told RaceFans in an exclusive interview. “But I think generally we view it as a success now.”

Brawn acknowledged that the rule could potentially decide a championship in a situation where one driver needed an extra point to take the title, and decided to pit for fresh tyres instead of overtaking the car ahead.

“I think it would be quite controversial, I don’t doubt that, but that opportunity is available,” he said.

“If you do that, should the guy who’s leading the championship come in and try and emulate what you’ve done? You can see various scenarios. Maybe the guy who goes for the fastest lap falls off because he’s trying to set the fastest lap.

Lewis Hamilton, GP2, Monza, 2006
The time a fastest lap bonus point won Hamilton a championship
“I think it’s a legitimate part of your armoury once you have your mindset around the fact that that is a legitimate way of scoring a point and should be taken into account.”

The reintroduction of the rule has added extra intrigue to races this year, Brawn believes. “We’ve seen it so often this year that teams and cars and drivers have changed their approach during the race to try and [score the point],” he said.

“I’ve seen quite a few failed efforts as well, which is quite amusing. They’re coming in and bolting on a new set of tyres to try and do it and they haven’t achieved it.

“So it adds some interest and I think generally it’s been successful. And I would say if somebody won the championship with it, that’s an opportunity open to them.”

Will Ross Brawn’s rules revolution address Formula 1’s biggest problems? Will the budget cap work? Read his exclusive interview with @DieterRencken in today’s RacingLines column on RaceFans

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2019 F1 season

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30 comments on “Point for fastest lap could create “controversial” finales”

  1. Seriously?

    I wouldn’t call it either a success or that interesting. It ended up being fairly much a “meh” for me. Couple that with the fact that generally the leader could nail it if he felt like it made the whole thing more of something that Crofty could waffle on about than something of any real interest.

    Strangely enough Crofty was also very vocal about the wonders of reverse grid qualifying whereas the “drivers” involved in commentary were in general totally against it. Seems like Crofty is getting bonuses to talk up these weird “innovations” that Liberty/Ross keep pushing.

    1. Hamilton being able to nail the fastest lap on the last lap in old tyres isn’t the fault of the fastest point rule, but the fact that the Merc is so far ahead and Hamilton is so good on his tyres he can do it.

    2. Crofty seems to talk up everything, right down to the kebab he had the night before. In fact anything which helps him drone on and on.

      1. Well it is his job to keep talking. FWIW, it’s better than utter silence or commentator that can’t keep the flow of the commentating constant like in many other series.

  2. Whatever rules that makes them push harder are welcome, to many races are frustrating to watch because of the slow crawling. Have we ever had such a big gap between qualifying and race lap times since the 80s turbo era?

    1. This is a very valid point. Races should have drivers driving to the limit of the cat all the time, not trying to manage everything until last lap. It’s sprint racing, not endurance.

    2. @maisch, even in 2010, when Bridgestone was supplying tyres, there were some races with a big gap between the best laps in the race and the qualifying times. If you look at the opening race in Bahrain, the best lap in the race – the 1m58.3s lap that Alonso set – was about 4.2s slower than pole position was, whilst Spain saw a 4.4s gap between pole and the fastest lap in the race.

  3. I’ve liked the rule, if nothing other than something to keep me awake (sometimes) as race enters the early hours of the morning (since they shifted it an hour and a bit later).

  4. It’s a bit late now to think long and hard about it, innit. The pitfalls were obvious from the beginning, yet you proceeded with this fairly arbitrary point.

    In some cases, it purely rewards a driver who pits 2 or 3 laps before the end and finishes P10 – I have never seen the relevance of rewarding this. Also, luck of your position relative to the driver behind before you pit, plays a huge part.

    Yes, I know, pointing out the bleedingly obvious, but it seems that FOM are only thinking this through now, 12 months too late.

    1. it seems that FOM are only thinking this through now

      @ho3n3r – umm, read the article. They’re not thinking it through even now, they’re busy patting themselves on the back for this. :)

      1. To clarify, my “read the article” is meant humourously, I’m not being sarcastic/rude here.

        1. Whichever way you meant it, you are right, @phylyp.
          I skipped this article initially as I was expecting a different focus.

          But Brawn makes some good points, and I happily pad his back for him.
          The rule has worked out well AFAI’MC. It is a real effort to get the point, requires a risk/reward and strategic assessment, and has spiced up the end of some of the races which otherwise might have just petered out.

          Happy to disagree with others though ;)

          1. PS I have more of an issue with:
            – flag mix up which affected the points outcome;
            – inconsistent use of flags/VSC/SC giving an arbitrary pit stop advantage to some drivers
            – podium defining penalty reviews taking too much time.
            -and, inconsistent penalties in general.

          2. @coldfly – well, there are some occasions where the allure of an extra point has given what I’d call meaningful entertainment – for example, seeing Hamilton pull out a FLAP on those old tyres was impressive, especially on these cheese-like tyres (and IIRC, he beat someone who pitted for a FLAP attempt in the process).

            On the other hand, too often the FLAP has been rather formulaic – if you’re tightly packed, or outside the top 10, don’t bother for a FLAP, unless forced to by circumstance (e.g. a puncture necessitating a pit stop). Conversely, in the top 10 and a ~25s gap to the following car? Free pit stop and a shot at the FLAP point. In all the cases this has occurred (often the P5 slot when Gasly was there, or P6 with Albon), it has not entertained as it is usually a foregone conclusion.

            Moreover, I don’t like the idea of such a point attempt spicing up the last 10% of a race, not when the preceding 60% has been rather predictable. But maybe 2021 will improve the remaining 60-90% and then this FLAP point will be a bit of icing.

            But if we’re going down this route, I’d suggest a revision with my tongue partly in cheek – a point for FLAP set on each compound (i.e. a point each for the FLAP on soft/medium/hard). It would give drivers an opportunity to potentially double/triple (or nullify) the points they gain from FLAPs.

            I agree with your other issues – flag waving is like the basics of racing, and two mix-ups in the last 2-3 years of pinnacle racing is way too many. Ditto for yellows/VSC/SC – at best it seems arbitrary, at worst, it is conspiracy fodder. I’m not too bothered with penalties influencing the podium taking time, I’d rather they do it right than fast (of course, cut-and-dried violations can be penalized quicker).

          3. @coldfly and @phylyp, I would agree with both of you that, in the grand scheme of things, the fans cared considerably less about the point for the fastest lap than they did about rather more fundamental issues.

            If the fans believe the stewarding is incompetent or choosing to avoid penalising popular fans, or believe the safety car system is being abused to close up the pack with the sort of “fake cautions” that NASCAR have faced such derision over, they won’t be complaining about the fastest lap point because they’ll have stopped watching the sport over those other faults.

    2. True. Plus the bar is so low now that anything that does not cause disasters is called success.

  5. The fastest lap point to create more show/excitement was as dumb of an idea as the timed knockout qualification brain fart from a few years ago.

    There is nothing wrong with the format of the races, there is something wrong with the design of the car.

    Fix the design first, then you can start playing around with gimmicks that adulterate racing, like DRS…

  6. If a driver needs just 1 point to clinch the title, how is the rival pitting to snatch the fastest lap any way possible? if he had time in hand to pit and not lose a position, he’d have done it already. If he didn’t have time, he’d lose a position at the very least, negating the effect of getting that last point the other guy needs.

    The only way possible would be for the rival’s team mate to pit and get the fastest laptime.

    The risk of a driver winning the title on the fastest lap point is a dangerous one. Because we have that risk all year, and we don’t see any kind of benefit through the season. If we can potentially have all the disadvantages and we don’t get any advantages, it’s just a change for the sake of changing.

    It made NO difference to either the races or the championship this year. It’s even MORE senseless than a double points finale. I’d gladly have that before the fastest lap point (but please don’t!)

  7. Brawn and Liberty are mistaking “acceptance” with “approval” here. I think us fans have accepted that the fastest lap point is here to stay, but we don’t approve of it.

  8. in how many races was this point won by the lowest classified of the top 6?

  9. I really don’t get why people have such problems with it really, I wouldn’t say it has spiced up the action or that it has generated much excitement, but I really don’t understand the anger about it, drivers are not forced to change their strategies and they have a choice whether to go for it or not. Whilst I agree it is a gimmick I don’t see how it negatively affects the racing so far this season.

  10. I liked the idea at the first few races but it lost its novelty soon after. Apart from Australia, we barely saw the drivers trying to compete for that fastest lap. It soon became just a bonus point to whoever is so far behind from the Big 3 and lost all meaning as a result.

  11. Reading the headline, I assumed Brawn meant “controversial = bad/not preferred”.

    Boy, was I mistaken.

  12. There is nothing wrong with the rule, except that anybody should be able to get the point, not just top-ten. Otherwise…no big deal.

    1. @gpfacts – that’s my only problem with this rule . If it were open to all runners that would be better indeed.

  13. When people running F1 says it is a success when actually it is a total crap, you understand how bad things are, and how detached from reality those people are.

  14. Pierce Wiederecht
    18th December 2019, 18:50

    I don’t get why anyone is strongly opposed to this. What is wrong with rewarding the fastest lap of the race? Isn’t “fast” the whole point of racing?

  15. Its a good rule. Need to drop it down to 11th place eligible now.

  16. It would be a disaster for the sport if the championship was decided by who lucked into a big enough gap behind to put on new tyres at the end. All that work by all those people, and then it’s just about luck for some ‘show rule’ nonsense.

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