Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Spa-Francorchamps, 2014

How to design a better points system for Formula One

2014 F1 season

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Formula One has probably never had a less popular rule than Bernie Ecclestone’s plan to offer double points for the final race of this season.

It has come under intense criticism from fans – 96% of F1 Fanatic readers opposed it – journalists, team managers and drivers past and present. Few will be disappointed that Ecclestone – however grudgingly – now intends to drop it.

But how should Formula One structure its points system? It’s a subject which tends to provoke a diverse range of opinion.

The point of a points system

‘The DNA of Formula One’ is an increasingly well-worn phrase. But the means by which points are distributed certainly qualifies as one of the sport’s fundamental characteristics.

It translates drivers’ and teams’ performance in the races into a final championship position. If any F1 rules deserve to be etched in stone, surely it should be this?

But the points system has importance beyond deciding who wins the titles. The constructors’ championship is linked to F1’s prize money distribution – a major bone of contention at the moment. Last year an eight-figure sum turned on which driver finished in 13th place in one round.

Drivers’ contracts often contain clauses based on their performance and that of their teams, which are measured by what position they occupy at different stages of the championship.

A lot of power is therefore invested in who finishes where, and that is decided by the points system.

The points system also shapes our perception of how well each driver is performing. For example, here’s how Lewis Hamilton’s championship position would differ under the past four points systems given the same results over the first 18 races:

Points system Hamilton’s lead Value of a win in final race Notes
2014 17 points 50 points
2010-13 17 points 25 points
2003-09 1 point 10 points
1991-02 13 points 10 points Hamilton would already be champion

Data from the F1 Fanatic Points Calculator:

What should a points system do?

Formula One cannot resist tampering with its points system. Since 1950 the value of a win has increased from eight to twenty-five points. Sixth place used to be worthless – it’s now valued the same as a win was in the first year of the championship.

At different times Formula One has awarded points for fastest lap, only allowed drivers to count their scores from a limited number of rounds, and offered double points for the last round.

This tinkering has usually been done with some goal in mind. But instead of making constant reactive changes, Formula One should have a goal in mind – a sense of which priorities matter when it comes to setting a points system. Here’s a few examples of what a points system should do.

Decide a worthy champion driver and team

Ayrton Senna, McLaren, 1988The first thing a points system is expected to do is crown the correct champion. Of course this is subjective, but there have been past occasions when the circumstances of a championship outcome has raised questions over whether the points system is fair.

In 1958 and 1987, the world champion scored three fewer wins during the course of the season than one of his rivals, leading some to suggest that winning was undervalued by the points system.

Contrarily, in 1988 some questioned whether winning races was over-valued compared to scoring consistently. In that season each driver could only count their best 11 results from the 16 rounds. The runner-up in the world championship scored 87 points but had to drop 18. Had all the results counted, the runner-up’s tally of 105 points would have beaten the actual champion’s 94.

It’s unlikely that a points system will always be able to avoid these kinds of criticisms. But deciding a worthy champion has to be the first and most important thing to get right.

Ranking the drivers and teams

Behind the champions, does anyone care who finishes second, third and so on? Does it even matter?

These two questions may have different answers. The contest for second place in a championship is unlikely to inspire much public interest. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter. When it comes to questions of contracts and prize money, it certainly does.

And it’s an area in which the current system arguably falls short. With points only being awarded to the top ten finishers, it’s become common to see some drivers and season end the year point-less.

As a fall-back, they are then ranked by who has the ‘most best results’, which was how last year Marussia took a lucrative tenth place in the championship by dint of having a single 13th place. This creates a ‘two-tier’ effect, where drivers who regularly finish near the front are rated based on the sum of their achievements throughout the year, and the rest simply need one good result to rank more highly.


The simpler a points system is, the easier it is for new fans to grasp. This is particularly important when it comes to motor racing because sports which take the form of one-versus-one competitions inevitably have simpler points systems.

A football fan watching his team knows they can only win, draw or lose, which in the English Premier League means three, one or zero points respectively. Motor racing points systems are almost inevitably going to be more complicated. In a football game there are three possible scoring combinations. Assuming Sunday’s race features 20 cars, there will be 2,432,902,008,176,640,000*.

There is therefore something to be said for not complicating the potential outcomes any further. The old ‘dropped scores’ system, for example, was a constant source of confusion – and continues to be, as this comment in response to a recent article demonstrates.

Keeping the championship alive

Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Homestead, NASAR, 2014Should the points system be designed in such a way to ensure the championship is decided late in the year? This is a concern for television broadcasters, as they can expect to attract larger audiences the longer the championship remains in the balance.

This has become an increasing problem in recent years. More and more races have been added to the schedule – with a record-equalling 20 planned for next year – and mathematically the more races there are, the greater the chance the championship will be decided before the last race.

However skewing the points system too far in this manner can lead to accusations of unfairness. Double points for the final race of the season for this reason, but was strongly criticised by fans, which has to cast doubt on whether the anticipated gains in television audiences would actually happen if a down-to-the-wire finish were perceived to have been rigged.

NASCAR has taken the idea a stage further this year, introducing a complex knockout-style tournament at the end of the season, to ensure the title goes down to the final race every year. The results is a system which takes a lot of explaining.

In NASCAR, after the 26th race of the season, the 16 drivers who have won the most races go into contention for the championship (the 16th of these will be the points leader if they haven’t won any races). Each driver’s points total is re-set to 2000 points plus three points per win. After three more races the four lowest-scoring of these drivers are eliminated (unless they win one of those three races, in which case they continue). This process is repeated after two further sets of three races, leaving four drivers in contention for the championship at the final race.

NASCAR’s system guarantees every year will finish with drivers fighting for the championship at the final round. But as well as being very complicated, it leaves little room for the championship narrative to change from year to year, and makes the bulk of the early portion of the season irrelevant, particularly for drivers who score a couple of wins early on. It also still potentially undervalues winning – yesterday Ryan Newman came within two points of clinching the title without having won a single one of the season’s 36 races.

But given F1’s current obsession with gimmicks it would be no surprise if it devised its own version of this plan in the near future.

Example points systems

Simon Pagenaud, IndyCar, Sam Schmidt, Pocono, 2014Before we get on to designing some points systems, let’s start by making a few assumptions. We are going to ensure each finishing position is awarded a different number of points, and to future-proof it we will assume that a race will feature 26 cars – the maximum currently permitted in Formula One.

Other championships

Several other championships operate different points systems. For examples of these, and to see how the current F1 championship would look under them, see the Points Calculator:


The most basic way to fulfil this would be for each successive position to be worth one point more than the preceding place, like so:

Position 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th 12th 13th 14th 15th 16th 17th 18th 19th 20th 21st 22nd 23rd 24th 25th 26th
Points 25 24 23 22 21 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0

By coincidence, this leaves a win still worth 25 points, as it is under the current system. The reduced gap between the different finishing positions also increases the possibility of the championship being decided later in the season.

This is the philosophy behind NASCAR’s points system, which gives 43 points to the winner down to one point for 43rd (and last) place. But significantly NASCAR does not have F1’s rule which prevents a driver from scoring if they fail to complete 90% of the race distance.

In F1 the high value given to lower finishing positions under this system could penalise a driver who wins a lot of races but also suffers several car failures.

So let’s see what happens if we progressively increase the gaps between each position.


In this points system the value of each place is worth one more than the preceding position:

Position 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th 12th 13th 14th 15th 16th 17th 18th 19th 20th 21st 22nd 23rd 24th 25th 26th
Points 325 300 276 253 231 210 190 171 153 136 120 105 91 78 66 55 45 36 28 21 15 10 6 3 1 0

This shows the limitation of even fairly simple mathematical systems – a win is now worth a rather cumbersome 325 points. And although the relative value of lower finishing positions has fallen, second place is still worth more than 92% of a win.

Let’s try to take the advantages of this system but smooth out the rough edges and restore the value of winning to something closer to what we have under the current system.


The following points system has simple round numbers for the top points positions, makes a win worth slightly more relative to second place than it is today, and gives points for every finisher barring the driver who comes in last on a full grid:

Position 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th 12th 13th 14th 15th 16th 17th 18th 19th 20th 21st 22nd 23rd 24th 25th 26th
Points 100 70 50 40 30 28 26 24 22 20 18 16 14 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0

This seems like a good compromise. But I still think we can do better.

Simplify, simplify

FIA Formula One World Championship Driver's TrophyLet’s return to the original question – what should a points system do?

To me, the most important thing it should do is give the title of ‘champion’ to the most deserving driver. The definition of ‘champion’ is a person who “has defeated or surpassed all rivals in competition”. Therefore I believe it’s wrong to give the title to anyone other than the driver who wins the most races.

Having a points system is an obstacle to doing this, because it will always involve ascribing a value to a lower place finish which makes it comparable to a portion of a win. Giving each finishing position a points value is therefore always going to be arbitrary and open to criticism. Instead of trying to calculate how much finishing second, third and so on should be worth compared to winning, we should only consider the lower finishing positions when they become relevant.

Fortunately, F1’s existing rules and regulations already does exactly that in the event of a points tie between two drivers:

In the event of a tie the holder of the greatest number of second places will be taken into account and, if there is still the tie, the holder of the greatest number of third places and so on until a winner emerges.
FIA Sporting Regulations

For me, the solution to the question of which points system to use is not to have one at all. The true champion is the driver who wins the most races – so instead of giving points, we should use use the ‘tie breaker’ the FIA has already devised.

Every driver who finished a race would be ranked – behind the drivers with the fewest wins would be those with the most second places, then the most third places and so on. For example:

1sts 2nds 3rd 4ths
Driver C 6 3 1 0
Driver A 5 4 1 0
Driver D 5 3 1 1
Driver B 0 3 5 2
Driver E 0 1 6 3

Of course under this system one driver or team who scored a lucky result may end up slightly higher in the championship order than they arguably deserve to. But that’s a sacrifice worth making because in exchange we will be certain that the champion will be the driver who’s done the most winning.

This system also does nothing to increase the chance of the championship being decided later in the year. I don’t care about that because I know whether the championship is decided or not is no impediment to great racing – look at the 2005 Japanese Grand Prix for an example.

And I know that by weighting the points system to make sure that the championship is decided at the last race every year will only make the spectacle of motor racing increasingly derivative and predictable. It’s better to let it happen naturally.

If there must be a points system, I think the ‘stepped’ one above offers some worthwhile improvements over the current system. And of course the nonsense of double points deserves a place in the dustbin of history.

But I say let’s make it simple. The champion should be the driver who wins the most races. End of story.

*i.e. 20 factorial, which is over 2.4 quintillion.

Over to you

What should F1’s points system set out to achieve? Pick which criteria matter most to you.

What are the most important things F1's points system should do?

  • Be clear and simple to understand (7%)
  • Award the same number of points per round (14%)
  • Weight the points towards deciding the title at the final race (1%)
  • Rank all the drivers and teams (30%)
  • Decide a worthy champion driver and team (49%)

Total Voters: 333

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How would you change F1’s points system? Would a NASCAR-style elimination system be an improvement? Have your say in the comments.

An F1 Fanatic account is required in order to vote. If you do not have one, register an account here or read more about registering here. When this poll is closed the result will be displayed in stead of the voting form.

2014 F1 season

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Images © Daimler/Hoch Zwei, Honda, IndyCar, NASCAR/Getty, FIA

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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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  • 220 comments on “How to design a better points system for Formula One”

    1. The stepped example needs fixing; 7th currently gets 8 more points than 6th :)

      1. @raceprouk Sorry, typo!

      2. so @keithcollantine you are essentially agreeing with bernies medal idea that got completley slated iirc?

        1. @mike-e I can’t remember exactly what Ecclestone’s proposal was off the top of my head, but wasn’t it just that only top three finishes would count?

          What I suggest would take account of all finishing positions, not just the top three. I wrote about this back in 2006, two years before Ecclestone’s ‘gold medals’ suggestion.

          I think this also highlights another point of the article – that Ecclestone doesn’t have a plan for things like the points system, he just reacts to things. Double points was a reaction to the poor television figures last year. His medals plan a few years earlier would likely have had the opposite effect, showing the lack of consistency in his thinking.

          1. I’m not sure Bernie ever explained what would be done with drivers finishing below third in his system, but applying the existing tie break rules seems reasonable enough — they’d all be tied on 0-0-0 medals. This would effectively be a system without any points at all, similar to the one you suggested.

            I dislike the idea, as it puts too much value on having one good race. Does anyone really think Magnussen has outperformed Button this year, just because of his P2 at Australia?

            1. I agree, I too think Keith’s suggestion is similar to Bernie’s idea of medals, with most Gold medals deciding the winner…

              Most wins could encourage some/midfield teams to focus on just a few races and simply make up the numbers in others..

              I for one feel a driver who has been scoring most consistently should win, even if he has a couple less wins then some one else…

              I think the current points system is fine enough… just do away with the Double points…

          2. I like the finishing position method, one way of eliminating fluke results would be to disregard each drivers best score.

            1. In my opinion that’s unnecessary complication. “Fluke results” are part of the sport and I don’t see why we should be “eliminating” them.

          3. Bernie has a lot of consistency in his thinking, however limited it is: He always tries to maximize the amount of money he can squeeze out of F1. Ecclestone would try to turn F1 into a media-show like Wrestling, if he thought it would turn out more money.

          4. @keithcollantine ok yeah that makes much more sense now. The table didnt pop up the first time I read it. sounds like a pretty decent solution, so by f1 logic it will never happen.

          5. @keithcollantine also tho, saying that, the medal system would have relied on the tie breaker rule for the rest of the places surely? so essentially, it would have been the same right?

          6. “[…] showing the lack of consistency in his thinking.”
            There’s also a lack of consistency in your article @keithcollantine :P

            In the beginning you say:
            “When it comes to questions of contracts and prize money, it certainly does.

            And it’s an area in which the current system arguably falls short. With points only being awarded to the top ten finishers, it’s become common to see some drivers and season end the year point-less.

            As a fall-back, they are then ranked by who has the ‘most best results’, which was how last year Marussia took a lucrative tenth place in the championship by dint of having a single 13th place.”

            This is the reason for showing us different point systems where points are awarded until the very last driver (if I understand it correctly). You point out that the ‘most best results’ is not really fair because one good result is enough to compensate a bad season.

            But at the end, you say we should use this ‘most best results’ rule because “the true champion is the driver who wins the most races”.

            It isn’t clear too me why you say that “it’s an area in which the current system arguably falls short” in the beginning and at the end you argue for extending this rule to the entire field and dropping the points system.

            The ‘most best results’ rule is the same as the ‘driver who wins the most races’ rule (again, if I understood this right).

      3. The stepped system can be smoothed out as following with an up-adjustment for winning the race.

        Here is the fairest stepped system I would like to see implemented from awarding points to finishing positions in a race from last (26th) place to first (1st) with a 1.13 step factor:

        0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 19, 22, 25, 29, 33, 38, 43, 49, 56, 64, 73, 83, 94
        and with up-adjusted winner points:
        0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 19, 22, 25, 29, 33, 38, 43, 49, 56, 64, 73, 83, 100

        Car reliability is alway awarded fairly by determining the finishing position based on who lasts longer before failure so the failure order is important too.

        If less or more than 26 cars start a race, still award finishing positions as if there were 26.


        1. I quite like this proposal, though I was wondering if it is really necessary to have points down to 26th, since you can pretty much always expect some retirements. Points to 20th say may be adequate, and shouldn’t skew the results at the lower end too drastically.

          I have to say that I’m not a fan of the medal system however. Consistency should be rewarded, and having say 5 wins but no second places to me is less impressive than having 4 wins and 4 second places. That’s why I prefer points systems.

          I do not believe that points make it unduly complex, either. The broadcasters make a big deal out of going through the permutations anyway so I don’t see why a viewer would struggle to grasp the situation at the crucial stage.

        2. I like the concept of only 10 cars being eligible for points, it makes ‘getting into the points’ valuable. I agree that a win is undervalued, but I believe that the higher the numbers, the harder it is to calculate what will happen after the race. 25 points for a win is the upper limit for me here. A good system would be:


          A win would be worth more than twice as much a a third place, handsomely rewarding winning. However, it would still encourage racing for the lower positions of the top 10, ensuring the best of both worlds.

          1. Agreed. This points system would be a good one.

          2. I like Keith’s proposal with 100, 70, 50. Those are easier for me to think about than 25, 17 or whatever. The odd numbers only affect the low order positions so they aren’t as important.

            I could also be convinced that a 2nd place should only be worth 60. Or even 50.

            I’d also be tempted to add a discard-lowest-result system to that, perhaps one for the first half of the season and one for the second. Just to help divert the huge swing effect of random DNFs, and encourage consistency in the whole year.

          3. I’d prefer:
            It’s slightly simpler and the numbers are smaller. This system it’s incremental from 10th to 4th place and stepped only for the top 3. Also, “twenty-twelve-nine” is fairly easy to remember.

            And if we go with the idea of awarding points to the whole grid, then I’d suggest something like:
            Again, only the top 3 places are stepped.

            1. LehonardEuler
              19th November 2014, 0:55

              A long time ago, when changing to this points system I proposed this, which is somewhat simmilar:
              Which is what we had up to 2009, but with the addition of 20 and 14 for 1st and second. It’s easy to remember, and it’s in the middle of 10-6-4 and 10-8-6. Divide it by 2, and you get 10-7-5. Today, 10-point-per-win, it’d be 10-7.2-0.48, which is about the same, but messes everything up to remember the values.
              Don’t like 2nd position for having 70% of a win? brind it down to 13 or 12.

              The thing is I agree with Keith somehow, a win should be worth a lot more than a second place. The best way to achieve this with a points system, is in an exponential law-like, a place behind is worth, way 70% of the preceeding.
              But that’s not practical, because of non-integer points.

          4. We already have a decent stepped point system, the answer is “MotoGP”. For 22-26 cars, MotoGP point system is perfect.

            1st 25 points
            2nd 20 points
            3rd 16 points
            4th 13 points
            5th 11 points
            6th 10 points
            7th 9 points
            8th 8 points
            9th 7 points
            10th 6 points
            11th 5 points
            12th 4 points
            13th 3 points
            14th 2 points
            15th 1 point

            I would like to see MotoGP Point system in the points calculator and also compare Lewis and Nico points with Marc Marquez :-) as the motogp guys ran 18 races, and it’s the same for F1 so far until Brazil.

            1. Or if one wants to award only top 10 cars instead of 15, then
              20, 16, 13, 11, 9, 7, 5, 3, 2, 1 is ideal

            2. I calculated according to MotoGP point system
              LH – 342 points
              NR – 338 points
              It’s close enough,
              M.Marquez (motoGP champion with same no. 18 races) – 362

              This shows how much competitive Merc were with both cars.
              I also don’t believe a driver who won most races should win the championship in general case.
              But this is specific case with equal opportunity to fight except for the “spa controversy”, but c’mon it was expected both team-mates will collide at-least once in this season with such competitiveness and dominance, so I’m surprised it only happened once, so they kept it clean since then.

              Although I was rooting for HAM almost whole season, I just want to become neutral and enjoy the drama in final race.

              I just don’t want both drivers on podium in Abu Dhabi, it’ll be horrible to see both reactions (imagine the situaton NR -1 , LH-3 on podium!). Get decided by reliability without double points coming into play, but then media and fans will get chance to create conspiracy theories about German/British thing and what not from the team! In any case (double points or failure) it’s messed up situation. Unless one of them crash due to mistake which is OK (as the driver himself will throw away championship).
              From the whole season I’ve watched, Lewis has got this already. (Nico didn’t capitalize when he had chances – Bahrain was one of them leaving aside the controversy of spa)

              But his father Keke Rosberg also got a championship in 1982 with only single win, whereas others had more. So, you never know what’ll happen – if the son gets his father’s LUCK!

      4. There is no respectable F1 Scoring System rather than 10-6-4-3-2-1 awarded to the only the fastest six finishers , with having 2nd place worth only 60% of a Win , While 3rd place only 66% of 2nd place & only 40% of The Winner
        , This gives the race the heat it needs , competition for the win , more overtaking attempts with more difficulty , today F1 becoming look like an Endurance Rally rather than Speedracing , few & easy overtakes , no fight spirit , no ambitions , no entertainment , that makes F1 alot more boring (Watch the GPs every season to recognize what I mean) .
        That Scoring system is the most fair point system & closest to the nature of any competition depends on points …. to determine the best .
        & the best in all speed racing is the most winner in most cases

    2. Kimberley Barrass
      17th November 2014, 11:59

      One questoin: Why do people need a championship not to be decided to watch a motor race?

      What’s up with that? My indicator of a good season is: Are most of the races memorable, interesting and exciting?

      If every place in both championships were decided four races before the end of a season, I would still watch the rest if the racing had been good all year.

      And vice versa: if every plce was still up in the air for the final race and we had had a year full of Sochi’s, I probably wouldn’t watch, and just check the results?

      Surely I can’t be the only one to enjoy each race for the racing? The championships are secondary to that, although they are still fascinating and briliant and I love the drama, if they didn’t even exist, I’d still watch F1!!

      I watch WEC for goodness sake, and I haven’t got a clue who is winning in each category there. I just like to watch Aston Martins trailing ferraris for 15 laps with les than a card length between them. Top racing is it’s own reqard I think.

      1. What’s up with that? My indicator of a good season is: Are most of the races memorable, interesting and exciting?

        I have a lot of sympathy with this point of view. I’ve seen great races with no championship at stake (Suzuka 2005 again) and close championship fights with few memorable races (2007 springs to mind).

        1. LotsOfControl (@for-unlawful-carnal-knowledge)
          17th November 2014, 13:34


          I have a question for you, keith. Was Brasil 2008 a memorable race in your opinion?

          1. @for-unlawful-carnal-knowledge Of course I do – your point obviously being that this was a race which was largely exciting because of the championship situation. Likewise Brazil 2012. But I’m not saying these things are mutually exclusive.

            1. LotsOfControl (@for-unlawful-carnal-knowledge)
              18th November 2014, 14:14

              I agree. There’s nothing much to say really except that, if Brasil 2007 and 2008 were midseason races, i would not rate them a 9 or 10 ,but 7.
              That’s my view

            2. LotsOfControl (@for-unlawful-carnal-knowledge)
              18th November 2014, 14:27

              Let me add one more thing. Suzuka 2005 was probably the best race I saw in my 30 years of watching F1. Perhaps reversing the grid wouldn’t be such a bad idea? Of course there would be, let’s say, half the race points for the first 10 qualifiers.
              It would be pretty interesting in the first few laps, I think.

      2. The problem isn’t with the dedicated fans, who probably don’t really mind the 2002(?) season being decided in July(!); the problem is the greater mass of casual fans, who are only interested in who’s winning. And if those fans see that someone has won, they don’t bother with any more races until the following year.

        1. There should have been a ‘for example’ in that post… oh well, too late now :)

      3. In the old days, when F1 was still a sport and received little of the corporate influence it now gets from the teams, sponsors, and the commercial rights holder, things were as you described. Winning individual races was the most important thing. The driver’s and constructor’s championships were just extras. Nowadays, the very survival of drivers and teams depends on the seasonal results, due to commercial factors that weren’t there in the beginning.

        Here’s an idea: award bonus money to teams and drivers after every race! The way it was at the beginning of motorsport. Before it became corrupted.

      4. +1.

        Say what you say, 2014 is a solid season.

      5. I love a dead rubber. It’s great being able to watch everyone do whatever they like without a title right to worry about.

    3. Nascar systems requires a PhD in Points System! F1 should avoid complications and go for a simple system without any gimmicky variation.

    4. I’ve often thought it should be a reverse incremental system – if you finish first you get one point, two points for second, nineteen points for nineteenth etc. The driver with the lowest score at the end of the season wins the title.

      1. Kimberley Barrass
        17th November 2014, 12:07

        What about DNF’s? They’re either too massively penalised under this system if they are the heaviest points, 20 say, or if it’s a 0, then it offers teams a mechanism to skew results if a car is running down in the high points.

        1. This is how sailing races are scored using a low point scoring system.

          In order to promote winning, often first place is given 0.75 points, second 2 and third 3, so on a so forth. This system helps decide if there is a tie break and weights it towards the person with the most wins.

          Agreed with your point for the massive penalty for DNF’ing (which in sailing is usually the number of competitors plus 1). In order to get round this, discards are offered, usually 1 discard per 4 races.

          It’s not a faultless system and it requires for points to be awarded the full length of the field. It would get around the issue with teams retiring cars early as they aren’t in the points and would promote racing throughout the field.

    5. Question: why do we need to award points at all? Simply collate the placings. The one who wins most races wins the title (thus rewarding winning races most of all). If there is a draw the one with most second places wins. Etc. This is repeated down the grid and you get a final read out based on precisely where people finished in the season’s races. No complex maths needed. And let’s bear in mind that when you try to reward this or that in a points scoring system all you do is skew the final outcome in one way or another. Keep it simple you say. Well it can’t be any simpler than this.

      1. That is Keith’s favoured solution as outlined above.

        It’s worth looking at how it might have effected past results. In general, it doesn’t massively alter what happened, but I’ve listed some of the more noteworthy changes, and I have to say I’m not unhappy with them at all…

        Moss would have won in 1958, rather than coming 3rd – and similarly Clark would have won in 1964 and 1967

        Denny Hulme would have dropped from 4th to 7th in 1970

        Ronnie Peterson would have come 7th rather than 2nd in 1971 (but would have beaten Fittipaldi to 2nd in 1973, and jumped from 5th up to 2nd in 1974).

        Andretti would have won the championship in 1977 (rather than finishing 3rd); ditto Alan Jones is 1979.

        Prost would have jumped from 5th up to 2nd in 1981

        Rosberg would have gone from 1st down to 6th in 1982 (with Pironi moving up to win)

        Prost would have beaten Piquet in 1983, and Lauda in 1984  – but lost to Mansell in  1986, with Mansell winning again over Piquet in 1987.

        Senna would, of course, have beaten Prost in 1989

        Kimi would have fallen from 2nd to 5th in 2003, but jumped from 7th to 3rd in 2004

        Massa would have beaten Hamilton in 2008 (except, of course, for Spa… :-), and Hamilton would have gone from 4th to 2nd in 2012

    6. petebaldwin (@)
      17th November 2014, 12:11

      For me, there are some key elements that need to be sorted in the points system.

      Firstly, I think all finishers need to score points. That allows for the smaller teams to have their seasons decided by their finishes instead of being in the right place at the right time in a freak race.

      Next, all races need to be weighted the same. Winning the first race should mean the same as winning the last one.

      Finally, the points need to be designed with enough of a step between positions to encourage teams to push on instead of holding position.

      1. Exactly and a step of a factor of 13% increase seems to produce a nice system with the winner getting extra 7% to 20% increase with even non-finishers awarded points based on how long they lasted.

        0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 19, 22, 25, 29, 33, 38, 43, 49, 56, 64, 73, 83, 100


      2. I like the current system(without Abu Double) and the 03-09 version.

        I think there should be no allowance for points past tenth. If there were, teams would then have every motivation to keep cars on track that are physically wounded or have a mechanical ailment, trying to grab that 1 or 2 more points that might prove crucial for the championship. That puts the driver, other drivers, marshals, and spectators at risk for dangerous conditions by continuing to operate these slower cars on track. This was and still is a problem for NASCAR (Indycar acknowledges this situation a little bit with their points scheme – same points for the last 9 finishers, but it’s not a far enough step for me). Limiting points to the upper half keeps teams from being tempted to take that risk.

        For teams that have not scored points, we already have a way to track their place in the standings even though the ultimate result is still zero. For those of us that love the back half of the grid, we know the score anyway and new fans that may be attracted to these teams also can quickly figure out what is going on.

        1. petebaldwin (@)
          17th November 2014, 20:40

          @reg – Good point about damaged cars driving around. It would be something they’d have to control somehow.

          I’m one of those who love the back half of the grid and that’s exactly why I suggested what I did. I hate the fact that Marussia could beat Caterham at every single race but still lose the position because of a first lap pile up or some freak weather… When so much is riding on the position they end up in, it just feels they should earn their position by consistency and pace like the rest of the teams do rather than by being lucky…

      3. I personally dislike the idea of the person coming last scoring more than 1 point.

    7. mattshaw85 (@)
      17th November 2014, 12:13

      Interesting read, for me I don’t think it need tinkering with any further. A point for pole and fastest lap are the only things I’d possibly add as both are an achievement of some kind. I think most would agree you’d want the drivers championship to go to the last round or close, and we’ve seen that with the points system more often than not.

    8. While I see where you are coming from @keithcollantine, I disagree with your conclusion.

      Consistency and reliability are just as important in motorsports as overall speed. If drivers are purely ranked using the tie-breaker rules, someone who finished 2nd in every race would be outranked by someone who scored a single lucky win, while finishing low down the pecking order in the rest of the races. This is unacceptable, and they certainly wouldn’t deserve that.

      I believe the current system is fine (excluding the double-points abomination), except for the fact that the lower places score no points. It seems to be roughly correct in ratios. I would suggest that it needs, at most, a little tweaking.

      Personally, I think simplicity is overrated in motorsport. It is such a complex sport that nothing will every be simple.

      1. @drmouse

        If drivers are purely ranked using the tie-breaker rules, someone who finished 2nd in every race would be outranked by someone who scored a single lucky win, while finishing low down the pecking order in the rest of the races. This is unacceptable, and they certainly wouldn’t deserve that.

        I agree completely. But that’s extremely unlikely to happen. I’m struggling to think of an example of something like this ever happening in F1.

        Whereas the opposite scenario where a driver who wins a lot of races gets pipped by someone who’s won far fewer but picked up a lot of second and third places, perhaps by dint of having the good fortune to drive a more reliable car, is much more likely to happen.

        I think it makes more sense to structure the championship in a way that guards against the undesirable and likely scenario I describe than the undesirable but unlikely scenario you describe.

        Personally, I think simplicity is overrated in motorsport.

        Perhaps ‘simplicity’ isn’t the best word – ‘accessibility’ is maybe more what I was driving at. Why makes things unnecessarily difficult to follow?

        1. I guess it depends on how you view the championship.

          The current system ranks the driver and car/team as one in the WDC. This is fair and right, in my view. The driver will get the benefit of a faster car, allowing him to win more. But if he is hit by car trouble, he looses out. Similarly, the driver who consistently scores well, but never wins, will often be hampered by a slower car. As it is impossible to separate the 2, this needs to be reflected in the scoring system.

          If the WDC & WCC were decided using the tie-break system, I am fairly certain we would see some teams pushing their rigs to the extreme, trying to score more high-placed finishes. There would be much less of a penalty for DNFs, and we would see more clouds of black smoke, especially from the mid-field and lower. They would game the system. This means it would become more likely for positions to be decided in the “unlikely” scenario you describe.

          This is the issue that seems to be lost at times. We could look back over all the seasons so far, and determine that very few would be affected by double points. However, altering the scoring system would alter the way the teams approach the championship.

          I believe using the tie-break would adversely affect the race. Some would disagree, saying they would prefer to see people battling tooth and nail, blowing up their engine, trying to get that 1 extra place for an extra position in the championship.

          I certainly don’t think the WCC should be judged in this manner. Maybe using it for WDC only would be possible, as the WCC would hold manufacturers in check to some extent. This may be a good compromise, but I still don’t like it.

          1. I see your point @drmouse, but I have to say, I wouldn’t actually mind seeing more teams going for a glory run that ends in smoke. Sure, it twists ‘to finish first, you first have to finish’ a bit, but for most drivers I think it would be much more enjoyable than trundling about hoping those ahead might make a mistake or have a problem, which is what consistency rewards (WEC is different, there you have to go x hours – that is main goal still, getting the furthers while doing that is 2nd …)

          2. Hm @drmouse, I do agree with you and @fer-no65 (for example) that rewarding consistency and reliability as well should be a target of the points system in F1.

            On the other hand, the picture you paint with cars going for win or bin does feel like imminently more thrilling for someone watching the race as @bosyber points out. Its a bit like how we view someone who wins a grand slam, even though they are below the top 10 in the ATP ranking.

            In the end, I agree with those that this is what we have a championship for – to reward season long effort. And for race cars, reliability is just (or at least almost) as important as being fast, as much as its important for a driver to sometimes think before doing a risky move.
            I do think that the win should be rewarded that little bit more than it is currently. And the system should be easy enough to follow without too much study.

            Lets propose something completely different – we make a system where money is the prize instead of points – lets say you have to still run at least 90% (or maybe 70% for half?) to be classified. And then we start with a million or 3 for winning, getting 2,1 for second and 1,5 for 3rd, then from there down to the last finisher.

            That would have the additional benefit of cleaning up the whole debate over pay driver / fast driver as well as all the murky agreements and behind closed curtains of who actually gets what!

        2. Example
          Heidfield would have been lower than Vettel when it is clear Heidfield was much more consistent.. in fact almost double the points of vettel… which would have been true in most systems anyway….

          The current system and the 2003-2009 actually get very close to what you propose and most of the time the one that has more wins actually wins… but then again, it needs to be also about consistency, a smarter drive will be a better one, same as in football or any other sport… Statistically speaking one extraordinary win has no value in the ranking of anything… one good song doesn’t make a band better, one good investment doesn’t make a bank better and so on. The best are the best because they always are.

        3. Fisichella had a lucky win in Interlagos in 2003 only to score one more time in the rest of the season plus 2 other races where he finished 10th when that position gave 1 point.

          Using the Tie-break rule he would finish the season in 8th place instead of 12th but Jordan (that finished 9th) would be 5th tied with Renault with 1 win, losing 4th for Renault because of a 2nd place, so if Renault finished the season without a victory Jordan would be 4th in the constructor instead of Renault that had a much better car and were way more competitive than Jordan trough the season.

        4. @keithcollantine well, in 2012 Maldonado won a race and hardly scored the rest of the year

          I really don’t agree on the most wins makes a champion. I prefer a points system, where every place has a prize and we don’t need to wait until the very last day of the season to see how good everyone’s chances are.

          1. @keithcollantine Also, such a system (wins per year) would make it easier for the guy with the fastest car. In 2003 Kimi almost won the championship after winning just 1 race. In 2012, Alonso came close with 3 to Seb’s 5. And Alonso would have been a worthy champion that year.

            1. Indeed, it would almost rule out a possible better driver in inferior machinery winning over two teammates that are not so good but have a faster (and possibly more unreliable car), who have really bad days in between wins. But as Keith said, no system will be complete enough to be deemed fair in every possible scenario.

          2. @fer-no65

            in 2012 Maldonado won a race and hardly scored the rest of the year

            But he didn’t win the championship – this is my point.

            In 2003 Kimi almost won the championship after winning just 1 race.

            No disrespect to him, but I’m glad we didn’t have a situation where one driver with a single win won the title instead of Michael Schumacher with six.

            Surely you agree Schumacher was closer to achieving the ‘champion’ definition of “one who has defeated or surpassed all rivals in competition” than Raikkonen, and therefore more deserving?

            1. @keithcollantine
              In 2003, the Ferrari was both faster and more reliable than the McLaren. Therefore, Kimi would have been a very, very worthy champion had he managed to pull it off (and he would have, if MSC wasn’t pushed back on the track in Nurburgring). Whether Schumi had 6 wins as opposed to Kimi’s 1 makes no difference.

              Wins are not the most important thing in deciding a champion. Season consistency is.

            2. @keithcollantine TBH, no. I don’t rate Schumi’s season above Kimi’s in every way. He had a faster and more reliable car than Kimi and yet he almost lost it.

              My point is that consistency also has to play part. Oterhwise, mistakes are forgotten because you won a good number of races too. Wins are good in their own right, and mean a lot in terms of championships (ties for instance), but I’d rather have someone that finished every race in the podium as champion than someone that won plenty of races and retired from the rest of them.

              Kinda like 2005. Kimi could’ve finished the season with more wins than Alonso and he’d not have been a more deserving champion than Fernando.

            3. @keithcollantine Also, in 1982 for instance. Keke won 1 race, and the next 5 guys behind him in the championship won 2 races each… and he could’ve won the championship without a single win because of his consistency.

              I think the definition of a champion must not be taken literally. Afterall, you have that in every single other championship. From tennis (anyone can be number 1, regardless of the number of tournaments won during the year), football (doesn’t matter if you are the one with the most wins during a season), rugby, whichever kind of sport that doesn’t rely on just 1 event (like an Olympics).

        5. Ranking drivers by number of wins is a system for drivers who have a “win it or wreck it”-attitude. I never liked those, especially since they also have a tendency to wreck other drivers races as well.

          Also, I really struggle to see any reason for changing the current points system (again), apart from doing away with the double points, of course. If it has to be any of those mentioned in the article, I´d go with the triangular, maybe slightly more skewed for the top-3-positions.

          Oh, and considering Nascar: I like and watch Nascar, it´s entertaining, but it´s not much closer to being a sport than Wrestling is. F1 is and should be very different, as I want F1 to be a sport, not a show. It should remain possible to consider it as something serious.

        6. > I agree completely. But that’s extremely unlikely to happen. I’m struggling to think of an example of something like this ever happening in F1.

          It’s not going to decide championship winners, but some drivers would make considerable jumps.

          Paster Maldonado in 2012 would go from 15th to 8th, and in 2013 Nico Rosberg would go from 6th to 3rd. Rubens Barichello in 2003 would have jumped from 4th to 2nd. Petrov and Heidfeld both get kicked way up the field in 2011, Gerhard Berger loses a lot of places in 1990.

          There are not insignificant changes.

        7. Panis in Monaco?

      2. That’s right. The guy that keeps coming second certainly is NOT championship material. He doesn’t deserve to be champion! As the definition goes, a champion is one who defeats others.

      3. I side with @drmouse and against @keithcollantine on this, and here’s why.

        I think that promoting a Most Wins = Champion would encourage a Team Brawn situation where teams will throw all their development money at a dubious, tricky, ingenious, and/or risky solution with the hopes that it will provide them a cushion to ride the rest of the season. Button and Brawn were able to do it successfully under the current-ish points system. Given the system put forth by @keithcollantine, all one driver has to do is win 6-8 races and in any competitive year, he has locked up the championship.

        I’m not saying that just anyone can jump the whole field and do that. I understand the circumstances with tons of pre-season Honda money and Brawn’s experience, etc. But even if a team is unable to jump the field (a la Brawn, Mercedes, Ferrari in early 2000, Red Bull in recent years) early, this sort of championship scheme could easily lead to teams getting it wrong, getting their trick device banned, or getting disqualified from some races. Justice is fine and all, but that could lead to teams dropping out because their risk didn’t pay off. A situation most of us want to avoid.

        Another reason I don’t support such a championship scheme, is that it benefits top teams and drivers to abandon races they are doing poorly at and then turn up the engines in races where they are doing well. This is destined to lead to fewer great races, in my opinion.

        Lastly, and in continuation of the point above, if FIA/F1 cares about reliability, keeping costs down, etc, then the Most Wins plan is not the best option. Under the current system, teams and drivers are not vastly benefited by flouting the rules on numbers of engines. You can burn through as many as you want so long as you get a new one on a “bad for the team” race weekend. If the FIA decides it no longer cares about reliability and costs then this will be a non-issue, but everything else above remains.

        All that said, @keithcollantine, I do like that you have explored various options and appreciate the opinion pieces regardless of whether I agree or not.

        1. should say, “…early 2000s…”

        2. also should read.. “Under the current system, teams and drivers are not vastly benefited by flouting the rules on numbers of engines. **But under the Most Wins system, you could** burn through as many as you want so long as you get a new one on a “bad for the team” race weekend.”

        3. @hobo
          it benefits top teams and drivers to abandon races they are doing poorly at and then turn up the engines in races where they are doing well

          I hadn’t even thought of that, but you are right.

          If the team determine their driver will only score, say, 6th, but they have lots of wins & 2nd places, they would be likely to abandon the race. Why put miles on an engine with no benefit?

          Currently, as long as they are going to finish in the top 10, it is worth completing the race.

          This is where points down to the last completing competitor helps, too. Currently, a driver from a top team running in 18th near the end may as well retire. If he were to score even a few points, it is still worth completing the race, as those could be the difference between places in the championship.

          1. Oops, the blockquote didn’t work there.

            We need an edit feature on here!

    9. To be perfectly honest I don’t think there’s much wrong with what we have got, Wins are still important but so is consistency & I think what we have is a nice balance.

      If I had to change anything I would however award points for every position so that positions 11th down actually mean something & where the constructors championship for those last few teams better reflects there season as a whole.
      Right now if you fail to score a point all you need is 1 result in a race with high attrition & that could put you ahead of your rivals in the championships even if your car over the season was not as good as your rivals.

      1. I agree @stefmeister, maybe give 25, 20 & 18 points for the top 3 then 17 – 1 points for the others (assuming we have 20 cars on the grid).

      2. If we had 26 cars with a fairer prize money distribution, I could see points to 15th (25, 20, 16, 13, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1) working well. I think this would be the next logical extension of the points system, with 45 for a 1-2, and a consistent points increase (+1, 2, 3, 4, 5) for the top 5 places. But with 18 cars, points to 10th is the first time that more than half the field gets points in every race.

        PS. This sounds ridiculous, but what about cumulative ‘time elapsed’ in every race, with retirements scoring the same as the last place finisher? Or, their average speed to that point, scored to the end? This usually improves as fuel loads come down, so a retirement still hits hard, and there might need to be something to safeguard against a late shower (last place finisher).

        Under this system, the champion has literally completed the season faster than his rivals :D.

        1. @stefmeister @fer-no65 @beneboy For this year, that would give Nico more points for consistent 2nd places, but also more points for Lewis’ comeback drives to 3rd and 2nd place.

          Further dissuasion of retirements however, might also lead to more Perez-Malaysia situations (i.e. hold station for 20 points). But, at the same time, at the odd place like Monaco, we might see some points not being awarded.

          1. Not to mention, as the amount of retirements decrease, a natural inflation in the points system is valid, which has the side-effect of increasing the points for a win. It does affect the record books, but so does many older races being ‘non-championship’.. thus leaving us with a win count already favouring recent times.

            Scoring most of the finishing drivers is thus a more valid approach than points for all runners, historically, along with scoring all finishers and not retirements, even under a ‘points for all’ system. But, I’ve raced with both systems, and originally it took me a while to get used to points only for finishing (50% distance in my case) under the latter.

    10. I think it’s better if points don’t go all the way down to last place. “Getting a point” can be a good goal, and it simplifies the issue of big numbers being hard to work with.

      I also think a good drive should be recognised in the season summary number even if it doesn’t end in a win.

      A win feels twice as good as second. Second is kinda 3/2 as good as third and so on.

      Lemme go off and spreadsheet a bit….

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        17th November 2014, 12:45

        @lockup – I know what you mean about a point being a goal but for teams like Caterham and Marussia, there has to be something better to decide who had the best season than basing it on who was there at the right place at the right time when there was a big pileup or late safety car.

        1. Yeah @petebaldwin, I do see the issue. For me I’d like to have it less crucial, so that the last team doesn’t get cut off at the knees with zero prize money and all the shipping costs.

          Also of course a system that enables teams to offer sponsors good value and climb the ladder, if they’re well run, while still allowing weak teams to fail so that new teams can come in.

          I dunno. Maybe points awarded down to 12th? 14th?

          1. I would suggest that my previous comments (on other articles) regarding a second-tier championship would be a good way. We could have 6-7 teams in each, with the top 8-10 cars scoring points, and the top & bottom teams swapping championships (promotion/demotion). Tighter restrictions to keep down costs in the lower championship, with bonus prize money for the promoted team to help them be competitive.

            It must be aweful to be a team at the back, getting no points all season and no glory. A 2-tier championship would help in so many areas IMHO: It keeps costs down for the lower teams, while still encouraging the pinnacle of technology at the top. It aids new entrants, gives smaller teams something to compete in, gives them some glory (their own podiums), and may even help promote new talent in drivers.

            1. Yes I’d like to see GP2 being more of a Division 2 to F1. Atm the step is massive, and when an F1 team fails it too often just ceases to be instead of having a future in another series.

            2. @lockup I wouldn’t suggest changing GP2. It works well as it’s own championship.

              My suggestion is that we just create a B-spec F1. Most things are the same, and they take part in the same race, possibly even the same qualifying, but there are tighter restrictions on development (and anything else reasonably managable, like pit crew) to keep costs down. They still have to develop their own cars, use the same spec engines, etc.

              My original suggestion was, for example, to homologate the entire chassis at the start of the season, with 2-3 aero configurations, so there is no in season development. It isn’t easy, but it is an interesting idea.

          2. petebaldwin (@)
            17th November 2014, 20:51

            @lockup – As an alternative, keep the points as they are but instead of the tie breaker being the highest finish, add the finishing positions together for everyone with 0 points and whoever has the lowest total comes top.

            That keeps the idea of a point being something that you have to work hard for but doesn’t just leave the cars at the back to a lottery…

            1. @petebaldwin Yeah I can see that being an improvement.

              I’d still like to see bigger gaps between points for the top positions. I like the idea of @heskin-radiophonic ‘s inverse system with 1 (or 0) for a win, 2 for 2nd etc. The problem of a dnf not being too catastrophic can be handled by everyone below 10th (say) getting 11 can’t it?

              I’d prefer a positive system but can’t see how to invert that! Surely it’s possible, anyone?

        2. I dunno @drmouse, I always think having multiple classes in a race is confusing and something you only do if you can’t raise enough entrants. F1 ought to be able to field a full grid, if they’d just be a bit less corrupt.

          GP2 is fine I agree, I was only thinking there should be a series between it and F1 perhaps. Something between GP2’s $2m and F1’s $100m.

          1. I always think having multiple classes in a race is confusing and something you only do if you can’t raise enough entrants. F1 ought to be able to field a full grid, if they’d just be a bit less corrupt.

            I would agree, except that it ends up meaning that the top teams have much more restrictions put on them than is necessary. By implementing a 2-class system, the upper class can be less restricted, which is a good aim in my view. It should allow more work on other parts of the car, rather than the hideously inefficient twiddling with winglets and vanes which make up the most common development areas in modern F1.

            It also opens up the lower end of the field, and allows teams to progress just as drivers do. Running a GP2 team, for example, is no preparation for F1. You need to develop the engineering talent etc. or buy it in.

            I like the idea of having the 2 classes racing at once. It could make for much more interest in the lower end of the field, which many forget about today. It may be a little more complicated, but it would be fun to watch, especially when we get races (which we would) where the lower class start mixing it up with the big boys!

      2. Try a Fibonacci sequence, unfortunately the numbers get ugly.

    11. In theory there is nothing wrong with assigning the title of champion to the driver who wins the most races.

      In practice, however, such a rule would destroy competition between team-mates. Let’s take Mercedes this year as an example.

      Round 6 of the World Championship, Monaco, in a season where the most wins takes the driver’s title. Hamilton has 4 race wins under his belt and Rosberg has just the one. Nico takes pole position with Lewis 2nd, and they stay in those positions off the start and dart away into a comfortable 1-2.

      Mercedes could let them race fairly, and Nico would win the race. However this is a wasted victory f