It is interesting looking back at the Brazilian GP that attention has already been focused onto next year’s season. The 2014 rule adjustments promise to give the grid a shakeup as Formula 1 changes lanes somewhat with the introduction of less powerful engines and stricter fuel management. Much of the focus towards next year will be partly due to how this season panned out. Vettel took his 9th straight win in Sao Paolo and had the title wrapped up months ago.
In a recent post I demonstrated how other drivers, namely Alonso, were better overall performers and had points been awarded differently over recent seasons the outcome of those championships would have been rather different. The 2013 title fight, though not much of a scrap was made, could not have been less competitive so any alteration of weighting would have made little difference.
But if drivers were given an incentive (in the form of points) to make more overtaking manoeuvres the championship would have more chance of remaining an open contest. Formula 1 would certainly be less predictable. Races where the lead doesn’t change would be no more. If competitors were incentivised to overtake up until the chequered flag passes for the lead would occur more often and races would become less processional as drivers would look to maximise overtaking right up until the final corner.
Attempts to boost overtaking have already been designed. The graph below highlights that overtaking has radically increased since 2010. The spike from 2011 when DRS, a system which aides overtaking, was introduced highlights how the entertainment factor through wheel to wheel competition needed to be addressed. If point scoring for overtaking was to be brought in this high frequency of passing and having cars with faster race pace than qualifying pace, like the Ferrari, the championship would be more of a contest as drivers would gain points for coming through the pack.
This year the Abu Dhabi, US and Brazilian GPs contained 66, 22 and 42 overtakes respectively yet they were all lights to flag victories for Vettel. The German led every lap of those races. Nobody had a look in.
reward on track overtaking. A possible solution could be, for example, 2 points being awarded for every car passed on track during the race after lap 1. Many perverse incentives may occur as team mates may swap places every other lap a bit like high speed ‘tag you’re it’. These could be policed and rules to deter such activity may be set. If driver’s are clever they would aim to gauge the optimum position in which to start the race as a driver choosing to qualify badly in order to be out of position at the start before moving through the field would add to the excitement. Perhaps the driver who set the fastest time on Saturday could have the first pick for grid position.
Alonso made 68 on track passes this year to Vettel’s 33 by virtue of starting in a worse grid slot. If 2 bonus points were awarded per pass the Spaniard would have amassed 70 extra points over Vettel. Such a predicament may cause the rival contender to choose to start in just as low a grid position and then we would have a race on our hands.
Formula 1 needs to adapt and reward drivers for creating excitement. Otherwise through boredom fans might pass by.
Overtaking statistics do not include: Position changes on the first lap, lapping of backmarkers, positions gained in the pits, positions gained through damage or punctures or mechanical breakdowns etc.