Change rules to give points for qualifying if race can’t happen – Seidl

2021 Belgian Grand Prix

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Formula 1 should introduce rules to cater for the possibility races may have to be cancelled, says McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl.

Last weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix was abandoned after just three laps were run, all behind the Safety Car. Despite the lack of any competitive running on Sunday, half-points were awarded to the top 10 finishers.

Many drivers criticised the decision to award points, including Lando Norris, who said it was “not a race”. Seidl said F1 should change its rules to award points based on qualifying results if future races are cancelled.

“If a race cannot happen – which can happen, we need to be clear as well on that, it’s an outdoor sport, we could have, strictly speaking, an entire weekend that is washed away.

“But let’s say if a race can’t happen, just to put it clear in the regulations that that you then award at least a few points based on the qualifying results, maybe half points or whatever. I think that needs to be discussed in detail. I would be fine with that.”

The decision to send cars out for three final laps behind the Safety Car at Spa prompted claims it had only been done to ensure points would be awarded for the race. Awarding points for qualifying would “avoid this discussion,” Seidl noted.

“Rewarding points for qualifying result if the race doesn’t happen is something I could imagine could be introduced,” he said. “From my point of view it would be also fair, because that’s the last point during a weekend where you had a fair competition between all competitors. Why not give a reward to them for that if a race can’t happen.

“It’s the same as when qualifying can’t happen then you take the free practice result instead.”

FIA president Jean Todt confirmed Formula 1’s rules will be examined closely following the events of Spa. Other areas of confusion and contention arose, such as why the race was deemed to have lasted the two laps necessary for any points to be awarded when the official classification was taken based on a single lap. “For sure we have to look into that and see what can be improved,” said Seidl.

“At the same time we all sat around the table when these rules were developed, every single team was involved and we were all happy with that. And many of these rules were in place for decades. And in the end, it wouldn’t have changed a bad experience for the fans on Sunday afternoon. So again, for me, that was not that much of a big issue, to be honest.

“As long as you need to learn from it and see, can we make it more simple at the same time, you also need to accept that with the regulations that are in place, we have to cover a lot of different scenarios. Last Sunday obviously a lot of different scenarios came together but in the end from my point of view were handled within the rules that are available from the FIA side in dialogue with us.”

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2021 Belgian Grand Prix

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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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30 comments on “Change rules to give points for qualifying if race can’t happen – Seidl”

  1. A good suggestion.

    1. A Horrible suggestion.
      Why not just qualifying as the race and save us hours of watching cars go round and round.
      I designed my car to be more competitive in the race not qualifying, why should i have to suffer for it.
      Qualifying was designed as a means of establishing how the race is started when you have more than one car.
      The solution is to give everyone a point for showing up or none at all

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        3rd September 2021, 12:25

        It’s a horrible suggestion but yours is even more horrible. If a race gets cancelled, there aren’t any nice solutions that are entirely fair.

        Generally, most of us enjoy watching cars go round and round (I know that’s a big part of why I got into F1) so when a race is possible, I’d rather we keep with that format rather than just doing qualifying. Personal preference I guess.

        Where a race isn’t possible but they have already qualified, it seems reasonable to not completely ignore what’s already happened and to issue a % of points for that. Qualifying is a competitive session and you should be rewarded for finishing top of a competitive session in my opinion.

        In terms of why you should suffer for designing a car that is good in a race but rubbish in qualifying – you suffer because others designed a car that is good in the race but doesn’t suck at qualifying. Design a better car next time.

        1. How about drivers who have to serve grid drop penalties for whatever reason. Gearbox changes or in qualifying accidents not attributable to themselves but a result of the actions others. You can qualify on pole and have another car run into yours forcing back of the grid start or pitlane start. Which will mean an automatic zero point even if your car was previously on pole.

  2. Now, here’s a radical idea: How about no points if there’s no race? Fancy that…

    1. IfImnotverymuchmistaken
      3rd September 2021, 12:47

      Thats’ just so crazy it might even work!

      1. Come-on now … that is “old school” thinking.
        In this day and age, people want something for nothing, not nothing for nothing.
        But an interesting idea none the less. Maybe a trial period or do it for 3 races in a season.
        Nah … never gonna fly.

  3. On the one hand, that would be good so that title contenders can close in.
    On the other hand I still wouldn’t give points.

    1. It could ruin the championship battle. The whole season result could down to the Michael Masi’s decision to keep the cars driving around the track behind the safety car the absolutely minimum number of laps and then declare it a race.

      I strongly believe the points system needs to be kept as simple as possible. The champion should be the driver with the best overall finishes. The result should not be affected by which races the points were scored (double points for ultimate race), how many fastest laps were obtained (but only if you are in the top 10), whether or not you did well in the sprint race between qualifying and the actual race, or even how you did in qualifying at all. These are just gimmicks that could end up ruining a championship.

  4. No, no, no! The focus should be on ensuring that racing is possible in similar circumstances in the future, not coming up with clever schemes for what will happen if you avoid racing.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      3rd September 2021, 12:27

      The focus should be on trying to find ways to race but that doesn’t chance the fact that sometimes, it just won’t be possible. When it isn’t, we need clear rules as to what happens rather than what happened a Spa.

      1. I was just thinking today, that they could have done something like a qualifying race. Average lap time would have been 2:10+ i think.. you have 20 cars.
        Start them 1 after another with a 10 second gap. That way they will not race each other, but they would race against the time. 10 seconds gap might solve the issue with the visibility as the spray would not be that bad I think. And run the race for an hour or so perhaps.
        If someone would crash, the distances could be kept with the virtual safety car. I know cars might come closer to each other, but if 2 cars races each other because one would be considerably quicker in the wet than the other, at least it would only be spray from 1 car in front of you and not from 10+..
        Is this idea too crazy/stupid? (if yes, please be kind to me, don’t trash me, thanks) :)

  5. There are several problems to be resolved in tandem here.
    1) How to ensure a “race” is not considered a race without any green flag running
    2) What the minimum standard of green flag running should be for half, full points etc.
    3) How to reward success in qualifying when the usual reward, best opportunity to succeed in the race, is denied due to there being no race (once above standards are set appropriately)

    No race = no points completely fails to address part 3. Personally I like approx. quarter points if a full quali is followed by no valid race (maybe 7, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 to the top 6 to give some compensation to those in the best position to score big points on race day).

    1. IfImnotverymuchmistaken
      3rd September 2021, 12:54

      Well, i guess the only fair solution would be to award points for qualifying regardless of the race., I.E., pole=15 points, 2nd 10 points, 3rd-10th 9-1 points.
      And then the race itself awards points as always.
      In theory, I really dislike the idea, and I don’t think it makes sense, but who knows, maybe awarding points for qualifying gives us some strange looking grids and some exciting first laps.
      That being said, I’d be the first to say that points are for racing, not qualifying.

      1. In general I’m very much against awarding points for qualifying. The reward of being high up the grid for the race, when the points should be awarded, is more than sufficient.

        But, to avoid what we saw on Sunday, I’d rather have a contingency in the rules to award *something* based off the qualifying result IF racing turns out to be impossible.

  6. I do think that in the event that a race is unable to take place that awarding points for qualifying would be a good compromise, Especially since that is likely something that is going to be pretty rare.

    Under normal circumstances I dislke the idea of awarding points for qualifying, But in situations like we saw in Spa (Which again is a very rare situation) i’d be fine with it as that for me is better than scrubbing the weekend & rendering the track running we did see & the risks drivers did take over practice/qualifying meaningless.

  7. Suppose that a football team like f.e. Arsenal would award a Premier League Goal of the Month.
    Suppose, purely hypothetically, that Arsenal did not score a Premier League Goal in that Month.
    Would it be a sensible choice to award the best goal scored during a training session?
    Training sessions take a lot of effort. If you perform well there, they can give you an edge during the real game.

    If you asked me whether this would be a good idea, I would have very a strong preference towards the answer that is not ridiculous.

  8. Unbelievable. Didn’t use a single bad word in my comment, yet it was probably not approved. I would like to know the reasons why!

    I wanted to share an idea and get your thoughts on it.
    Today I was thinking, what if they tried to do a qualifying race? Not a sprint, or call it a sprint – but not against other cars, but against time.
    With the rain, i was thinking that the average lap time would be somewhere around 2:10ish give or take.

    What if they started the cars one after another with a 10-second delay after each car? That way they would have a 10-second gap which would probably address the visibility issue.
    Of course, some cars would catch up the others, because they are faster, but still – 2 cars fighting in such conditions means that the spray would not be as bad as if you had 10+ cars on the same straight.
    In case of a crash, use the VSC to keep distance.

    That way they would have at least be able to run. I don’t know. I would have tried it perhaps, just to see what it would mean. Rather than waiting for 3 hours for a miracle and then do 1 lap behind the safety car and call it..

  9. Should do this in Monaco and skip the race every year

    1. IfImnotverymuchmistaken
      3rd September 2021, 13:39

      Monaco is a special race, and I gladly watch 10 processions in Monaco in a row for one overtake into the Loews corner in 10 years (thank you Mick Schumacher).
      It makes it all worthwhile.

  10. That makes sense to me. One of the old point scoring systems could be used here e.g. 10-6–4–3–2–1 for the top 6 in qualifying or 10–8–6–5–4–3–2–1 for the top 8. They would seem fair (and we wouldn’t have the 0.5 points on the table at the end of the year which never looks very good…).

    Obviously all efforts should be made to race, but there are clearly going to be times when that just isn’t possible. George’s lap in qualifying highlighted that it also wouldn’t be fair to just ignore that and say “Meh, nice qualy, you could have scored some good points for your team today but tough luck”. When you have backmarker teams where a single point can mean the difference between staying or folding, and they’ve produced a giant killing effort to qualify high up the grid, but they can’t turn that into a result because the race is cancelled, they still deserve a reward for their weekend effort. Realistically, George wouldn’t have finished on the podium, but he would have had a good chance at finishing 5th or 6th.

    Maybe the main issue after last weekend is whether they should have crowned a ‘winner’ and ‘podium finishers’. If you just go on results of qualifying, they get points but no-one actually officially wins the race and no trophies are handed out.

  11. Sounds like a good argument for universal sprint-race qualifying.

    1. That too can be affected by rain. So I guess it is back to drawing lots from a straw hat

  12. Perfectly sensible. Half points for qualifying.

  13. Bring back the old monsoon tyres and fit wet weather mudguards to reduce spray. Winning idea!

  14. OK – you have a couple of trucks loaded up with identical saloon cars at each GP – my preference would be old style Mini Coopers. Then if it’s too wet to race F1 cars they do an hour of racing in those to decide the points. Now that I would like to see! :-)

  15. A few steps to fix:
    1 • Bring back the 2009 monsoon tyres, instead of these Prielli wet-weather tyre jokes.
    2 • Use better equipement to clear the water from the track.. I saw a picture from Indycar and they used a truck with some massive ‘dying devices’.. F1 got instead a small truck with a medium-sized brush that cleaned less than 1cm² of water…
    3 • Reschedule some of the most prone to be rain-affected races in the future, and put them earlier in the day (like Spa, Turkey in October maybe, Brazil…). That way we can have a bigger window to wait for the conditions to improve.
    4 • Personally i would change the points scoring format to this :
    → Full race or 75% of the distance complete : Normal points 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1
    → 25% to 75% of the distance complete : Half points 12.5-9-7.5-6-5-4-3-1-0.5
    → Less than 25% of the distance complete (like we had in Spa) : Points only at the Quali top-5 like 5-4-3-2-1

    I think the last solution is the most fair to me. It still rewards somehow all the work that had been done prior to the race by the teams and the drivers by giving some points (at least to the top-5), but without the ‘big’ increase of the normal points system (25-18-15-12-10-…). And before anyone says “it’s like giving points for Quali, so no”… we are talking about one of the most rare events in an F1 race (3 races in the last 30 years – 2 actually under this proposed system since the 2009 Malaysian GP was completed by 55% so it falls in the half points case). We’re giving this year 3×3-2-1 points on an expirement!!! I think the integrity of the championship will still be fine if we award 5-4-3-2-1 points if there is torrential rain once every 15 years…

  16. Why not just cancel the race and move on?

    If the rules are changed at all in response to the Spa debacle they should require racing to have occurred for fractional points to be awarded. All other solutions are unnecessary and overreacting in my opinion.

    1. Not so easy to cancel the race as the rules are set up currently.
      I did waste a bunch of (too much) time looking up the Sporting Regulations.
      Section 23.5 indicates an “Event” consists of P3, Qualifying and the Race.
      Since it seems that two laps are considered a “Race” then as specified, the Event did happen.

      Trivia question … who set the fastest race lap.? Hint, it wasn’t Bernd Mayländer, but it is a surprise.

      1. The answer certainly is a surprise

        It’s “no-one”, as per the official race classification below

        And no, the answer is not Mazepin, you can’t set the fastest lap on lap 2 of a 1 lap race.

        (Sorry I accidentally hit “report comment” before “reply”, wish there was some way to cancel that)

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