A number of changes have been confirmed today after a meeting of the F1 Strategy Group and Formula One commission in Paris. They include permanent driver numbers, a new five-second penalty and double points for the last race of the season.
Next week Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren, Force India and Toro Rosso will be in Bahrain to take part in a Pirelli test. The test, which will run from December 17 to December 19, was offered to all of the teams but only the aforementioned six accepted. It was agreed to on safety grounds, as Pirelli look to get a better understanding of their tyres for 2014.
From 2014 drivers will also race with a number that will last them for the duration of their career. For example, Valentino Rossi has also raced with the number 46 on his bike and is globally recognised. Drivers picking their own number will open up marketing opportunities and allow them to become more familiar. Currently numbers are assigned in relation to constructors championship positions, with the world champion always getting the number 1. As they change every year, it is not always easy to remember who it is if, for example, car number six picks up a penalty.
Number 1 will still be reserved for the world champion, although he is not obliged to use it. Drivers will be able to choose a number between 2 and 99. If more than one driver choses the same number then the driver who finished highest in the previous year’s championship will be given priority.
Another agreement reached at the meeting was the principle of a five-second penalty for minor infringements. This will be discussed further with Formula One teams to clarify the details such as in what form the penalty will be applied.
The last, and proving to be most controversial, change is that double points will be awarded at the final race of the season, which in 2014 is Abu Dhabi. This is in an attempt to maximise focus on the championship until the end of the campaign. This means that instead of the regular 25, 18, 15, 12… points system which will apply for the rest of the season, drivers will be awarded 50, 36, 30, 24, 20, 16, 12, 8, 4, 2. The change also applies to the constructors championship.