F1’s half points rule may be outdated – Steiner

2021 Belgian Grand Prix

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Formula 1’s bizarre Belgian Grand Prix result may show its rule awarding half points for shortened races has fallen out of date, said Haas team principal Guenther Steiner.

He admitted he was puzzled by the decision to award half championship points after the rain-hit and drastically shortened race. Drivers completed three laps behind the Safety Car and results were determined based on the first of the three.

“I think we need to look at the rulebook because I honestly haven’t found out why this rule is in place, that after two laps of racing half points are awarded,” said Steiner. “I have no idea where this comes from and I don’t know how long it is in for.

“Once I get time, I’ll try to find out because there must have been a reason why this was put in. Maybe times have moved on and we just didn’t change it.”

Steiner said the sport must find a way to handle similar situations better in the future, though he doubts they will happen often.

“I saw the fans which stuck with it and I think they have been great. They wanted a race, we all wanted a race and in the end nobody did anything which was malicious, everybody tried to do a race and it was just not possible. We put the best effort in and then it ended badly.

“So we just need to find the solution [to] how do we deal with this one better next time when it comes around. It will come around maybe in 10, 20 years, maybe some of us will not be working F1 anymore, but it will come again. There will be a weekend where there will be three days of rain, that will happen again.”

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Alfa Romeo issued a statement criticising Formula 1’s handling of the stoppage. Steiner spoke with rival team principal Frederic Vasseur after the race. “He was, in general, pretty upset at how it happened.

“Fred is a racer, obviously to lose this many points to Williams, they could still have fought for eighth place but now I think it is going to be very difficult for them. So I’m sure that they’re not happy about that one.

“But as much as Fred explained it to me, he was not only upset about that one, he was also upset about generally what happened on the weekend.”

However Steiner denied reports elsewhere claiming a formal meeting involving teams had already been called to discuss the Spa episode.

“Obviously we all speak and I don’t want to say who and what we spoke about. But I would just say that there is a lot of things going on in the moment to – I say now avoid, you never can avoid a weather situation we are not this strong to do that – but that we find a better solution next time it happens.

“But there was no big meeting. Anything, as the president said, will be discussed in the next F1 Commission meeting in October.”

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2021 Belgian Grand Prix

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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7 comments on “F1’s half points rule may be outdated – Steiner”

  1. Honestly, if you take away these points by the end of the season I’m pretty sure williams will still beat alfa, at this point probably both car and drivers are better.

  2. Maybe awarding anything for not racing is the problem, and not the rule that awards half the points for some racing, duh.

    Although I agree two laps seems a weird number :)

  3. I think the two-lap thing is a hangover from the old red flag rules @minilemm. If a race was stopped after less than two laps were completed the original start was deemed null and void and the race would be completely restarted from the original grid. If the race was stopped after two laps or more, the restart would be taken from the order at the time of the stoppage, and aggregate times used to determine the result (Japan 1994 being the most recent time this arrangement was used in F1). So a race that ran for less than two laps was deemed not to be a “race” at all as it was completely disregarded.

    Nowadays a red flag does not “stop” a race, only “suspends” it, so the distinction does not exist (even races that are red-flagged on the first lap, like Bahrain last year, are started from where they left off rather than being completely reset as in the old days).

    1. Good point about the possible origin of this rule @red-andy.

    2. That reads like a reasonable way this could have come about @red-andy, well done.

  4. It honestly would be hilarious if, at the end of the season, the half points make no difference whatsoever

  5. Frederic Vasseur seems to forget that Russell on merit put his Williams 2nd on the grid meaning Williams likely would have scored lots of points maybe even more than 10 if the race would have started and went full distance.

    Yes it is odd to award points for a race that didn’t happen but then again not awarding any points doesn’t do justice to the qualifying result. I doubt Frederic would have been as vocal if Williams were 14th and 16th of the grid.

    In the end of the day Alfa is behind Williams because Williams has done a better job and got better results and that is what matters most. Before Spa Williams was already leading 10 to 3.

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