A few days ago the FIA published some regulation changes ahead of 2014, and one in particular has been met with an overwhelmingly negative response. The F1 Strategy Group, consisting teams from the championship, voted to allow double points for the last race of the season which, in the case of 2014, is in Abu Dhabi. Four time world champion Sebastian Vettel told German media he thought the idea was “absurd”.
The question was then raised: would double points have made a difference to world championships in the past? An analysis of 1993 to 2002 showed that there would have been a few changes here and there in the top ten, but nothing significant like a change of champion. This post will complete an analysis of twenty years, looking at 2003 – 2013.
2003 – Michael Schumacher
In 2003 a new points system was introduced – points were now awarded to the top eight on the basis of: 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Michael Schumacher won his fourth championship in a row (his sixth overall) narrowly beating McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen. Juan Pablo Montoya ended the year in third place. However, if double points for the last race had been in play, the first major change in the period 1993 – 2013 would have occurred:
- Kimi Raikkonen (92) 99
- Michael Schumacher (93) 94
- Juan Pablo Montoya 82
Yes, Raikkonen would have won his first championship, reducing Schumacher’s tally to only six (‘only’…). David Coulthard would also have benefited from double points, moving from seventh to six, with Fernando Alonso dropping a place. In the constructors championship McLaren would have finished in second place with double points, moving ahead of Williams.
2004 – Michael Schumacher
It was a whitewash for Michael Schumacher in 2004 when he won 13 of 18 races, comfortably wrapping up the championship before the final race of the year, meaning double points would have made no difference:
- Michael Schumacher (148) 150
- Rubens Barrichello (114) 120
- Jenson Button 85
Double points would have allowed Juan Pablo Montoya to finish ahead of Fernando Alonso in fourth place. Kimi Raikkonen would also have benefited, at the expense of Jarno Trulli. The constructors championship would have remained the same.
2005 – Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso became the youngest world champion (at the time) in 2005, comfortably beating Kimi Raikkonen who was hampered by an unreliable McLaren. Michael Schumacher finished in a distant third – an unfamiliar position for him after so much domination. Double points would have altered the top three slightly, although Alonso had already wrapped the title up before the last race:
- Fernando Alonso (133) 143
- Kimi Raikkonen (112) 120
- Giancarlo Fisichella (58) 63
The constructors championship would have remained the same with or without double points.
2006 – Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso did not have to wait long for championship number two, enjoying a spirited battle with a retiring Michael Schumacher throughout 2006 on his way to it. Felipe Massa finished in third place:
- Fernando Alonso (134) 142
- Michael Schumacher (121) 126
- Felipe Massa (80) 90
As can be seen, double points would not have changed the order, instead they would have dropped Schumacher further behind Alonso. The top ten in both the drivers and constructors championships would have been the same, regardless of double points.
2007 – Kimi Raikkonen
2007 saw the arrival of Lewis Hamilton on the scene, and he instantly fought for the world championship. It was a difficult year for McLaren with inter-team battles and ‘Spygate’ seeing them disqualified from the constructors championship. In the end, in some sort of poetic justice, Hamilton and his team-mate Fernando Alonso finished on joint points, just one point behind champion Kimi Raikkonen, who won the final race of the year to clinch it. Double points, however, would have changed things slightly:
- Kimi Raikkonen (110) 120
- Fernando Alonso (109) 115
- Lewis Hamilton (109) 111
Elsewhere in the top ten, double points would have seen Nico Rosberg finish in eighth place instead of ninth. The constructors championship would not have changed.
2008 – Lewis Hamilton
After narrowly missing out in 2007, Lewis Hamilton ruled the roost in 2008, beating Felipe Massa in a nailbiting finale. He overtook Timo Glock on the last corner of the last lap to take the fifth place he needed, after Massa took an emotional home victory. 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen finished in third. If there had been double points, things would be very different in the history books – Massa would be champion and Hamilton would have no championships:
- Felipe Massa (97) 107
- Lewis Hamilton (98) 102
- Kimi Raikkonen (75) 81
Those would have been the only changes within the top ten, but pretty significant. The constructors championship would have remained the same.
2009 – Jenson Button
Major regulation changes in 2009 shook up the field, with newly formed Brawn GP dominating the start of the season. Red Bull joined them at the front with usual front runners Ferrari and McLaren slipping back. Jenson Button won his first world championship, beating Sebastian Vettel and Rubens Barrichello. Double points would have brought Vettel closer to Button’s points tally, but would not have changed the overall order:
- Jenson Button (95) 101
- Sebastian Vettel (84) 94
- Rubens Barrichello (77) 82
None of the top ten would have changed with double points and the same can be said for the constructors championship.
2010 – Sebastian Vettel
In 2009 a new points system was introduced: 25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1. After missing out in 2009, Sebastian Vettel won his first world championship in 2010, beating off stiff competition from Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber. Going into the last race, Alonso had the advantage – Vettel never led the championship until the last race, subsequently winning it – but his race did not go quite as planned. The top three would have been altered slightly by double points:
- Sebastian Vettel (256) 281
- Fernando Alonso (252) 258
- Lewis Hamilton (240) 258
Mark Webber, who actually finished third, would have dropped to fourth and Lewis Hamilton would have been third with the same amount of points as Alonso. Nico Rosberg and Robert Kubica would both have finished ahead of Felipe Massa with double points. The constructors championship would have been unaffected.
2011 – Sebastian Vettel
Sebastian Vettel dominated 2011 in a Schumacher-esque style and won his second championship with over 100 points in hand. Going into the last race he was already 119 points clear of Jenson Button, so double points definitely would not have changed the outcome. Mark Webber finished in third place:
- Sebastian Vettel (392) 410
- Jenson Button (270) 285
- Mark Webber (258) 283
Elsewhere the rest of the top ten would also have remained as they actually finished. Force India would have benefited from double points in the constructors championship, however, moving ahead of Renault.
2012 – Sebastian Vettel
After dominating 2011, Sebastian Vettel had to overcome a significant deficit to beat Fernando Alonso. Kimi Raikkonen finished in third on his return to the sport. Double points in 2012 would have resulted in a very different top three – the biggest changes in the past twenty years:
- Fernando Alonso (278) 296
- Sebastian Vettel (281) 289
- Jenson Button (188) 213
Alonso would now be a three time world champion with Vettel as runner up. Jenson Button would have benefited most from double points after winning the last race of the season. He would have risen from fifth to third – moving ahead of Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton. The constructors championship would have been unchanged.
2013 – Sebastian Vettel
This season saw Sebastian Vettel dominate again, winning 13 of 19 races including the last nine. His advantage at the end of the year was 155 points and he had the championship won in India with a few races in hand. Double points would not have changed the outcome:
- Sebastian Vettel (397) 422
- Fernando Alonso (242) 257
- Mark Webber (199) 217
With double points, Sergio Perez would have finished in the top ten, ahead of Nico Hulkenberg who actually finished tenth. In the constructors championship, double points would have seen Ferrari finish ahead of Mercedes in second.
And that concludes the analysis of the effect of double points in the last twenty years. Between 1993 and 2002 there were no major changes, but 2003 – 2013 would have seen some major changes with double points. The history books would have Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel both down as three time world champions. Michael Schumacher would be a six time world champion and Kimi Raikkonen would have two championships. Felipe Massa would be a one time world champion and Lewis Hamilton would have none.