It’s the morning after the night before. The news that from 2014 onwards, the last race of the season will have double points is still being met with largely negative views. Some have said Formula One is turning into wacky races – what will happen next?
The idea behind the double points is that championship battles will be maximised and go on for as long as possible, i.e. the last race of the season. This post is the first of two which will look back at the last 20 years and see the changes, if any, double points for the last race would have made to any of the championships.
Points were awarded to the top six in the following format: 10, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1 meaning double points in the last race would have been worth: 20, 12, 8, 6, 4, 2.
1993 – Alain Prost
In 1993 Alain Prost won the world championship ahead of Ayrton Senna and Damon Hill. Prost had 99 points and had a 26 point advantage over Senna and 30 points over Hill at the end of the season. He had already wrapped up the championship before going into the last race and so double points would have resulted in no change:
- Alain Prost (99) – 111 points
- Ayrton Senna (73) – 83 points
- Damon Hill (69) – 77 points
Instead, Prost would have marginally increased his deficit over both drivers, despite Senna winning the last race of the season in Australia. There would have been minor changes elsewhere, however, with double points allowing Jean Alesi to move ahead of Riccardo Patrese, and Gerhard Berger to leapfrog Martin Brundle. The Constructors championship would have remained as it was.
1994 – Michael Schumacher
Michael Schumacher won his first of seven world championships in 1994, finishing one point ahead of Damon Hill and 51 points ahead of third placed man Gerhard Berger. Neither Schumacher nor Hill scored in the last race so double points would not have effected the order:
- Michael Schumacher 92
- Damon Hill 91
- Gerhard Berger (41) – 47
Double points would have seen Nigel Mansell elevated from ninth to sixth and Martin Brundle dropping from seventh to eighth, despite gaining points. Again the Constructors championship standings would have been unaltered.
1995 – Michael Schumacher
Michael Schumacher won his second world championship in 1995, this time with a more dominant point deficit. He finished the year 33 points ahead of Damon Hill who in turn was 20 ahead of David Coulthard. Once again Schumacher failed to score points in the final race but he already had a significant points advantage so double points would have made little difference:
- Michael Schumacher 102
- Damon Hill (69) 79
- David Coulthard 49
The only other changes in the top ten would have been Olivier Panis swapping places with Mika Hakkinen due to scoring six more points, and Mark Blundell moving ahead of Heinz-Harald Frentzen.
1996 – Damon Hill
After finishing second in 1994 and 1995, Damon Hill became world champion in 1996. He finished 19 points ahead of Jacques Villeneuve with Michael Schumacher in third place. Villeneuve failed to score points in the last race so Hill’s win, with or without double points was enough to secure him the championship although he would have still won without winning:
- Damon Hill (97) 107
- Jacques Villeneuve 78
- Michael Schumacher (59) 65
Once again the Constructors championship would have remained unchanged with Williams winning by a significant margin over Ferrari.
1997 – Jacques Villeneuve
Jacques Villeneuve was crowned champion in 1997 when he finished 39 points ahead of Heinz-Harald Frentzen. David Coulthard took third place a further six points back. Michael Schumacher had ended the year in second, just three points down on Villeneuve, but was disqualified for a collision he had with the Williams driver. Schumacher was just ahead in terms of points going into the final race but his disqualification means that double points would have made no difference:
- Jacques Villeneuve (81) 88
- Heinz-Harald Frentzen (42) 43
- David Coulthard (36) 42
Double points would have benefitted Mika Hakkinen in the championship, as he would have finished in fourth place instead of sixth. In the Constructors championship, McLaren would also have gained from double points in the last race. They would have moved up to third place, ahead of Benetton who actually finished in third.
1998 – Mika Hakkinen
Mika Hakkinen won the first of his two world championships in 1998, beating Michael Schumacher by 14 points and team-mate Coulthard by 44 points. Going into the last race Hakkinen had a four point advantage over Schumacher, but the Ferrari driver failed to score. Double points would therefore have done little to the standings:
- Mika Hakkinen (100) 110
- Michael Schumacher 86
- David Coulthard (56) 60
Damon Hill would have benefited from double points as they would have enabled him to finish ahead of Jacques Villeneuve.
1999 – Mika Hakkinen
Mika Hakkinen became a double world champion in 1999, beating off competition from Eddie Irvine and Heinz-Harald Frentzen. The Finn won by just two points, and was trailing Irvine by four points as they went into the last race of the season. Frentzen finished the year a further 20 points behind Irvine. If double points at the last race had been in play, the order would not have been altered, but Hakkinen would have enjoyed a larger deficit:
- Mika Hakkinen (76) 86
- Eddie Irvine (74) 78
- Heinz-Harald Frentzen (54) 57
Michael Schumacher, who broke his leg at the British Grand Prix and subsequently missed six races, would have benefited from double points at the last round and would have moved from fifth to fourth. In the Constructors championship, Williams would have gained enough points to see them finish in fourth place in the standings.
2000 – Michael Schumacher
After a disappointing 1999, with a number of races spent on the sidelines, Michael Schumacher was back to winning ways in 2000. He clinched his third world championship, ending the year 19 points ahead of Mika Hakkinen, and 35 points ahead of Hakkinen’s McLaren team-mate David Coulthard. Going into the last race, Schumacher had a 12 point lead over Hakkinen so, with ten points available for a win, the championship fight was over before the last race:
- Michael Schumacher (108) 118
- Mika Hakkinen (89) 92
- David Coulthard (73) 79
Jacques Villeneuve would have gained a position thanks to double points but the rest of the top ten would have remained as they were. BAR-Honda would have gained a place in the Constructors championship, progressing to fourth and dropping Benetton to fifth.
2001 – Michael Schumacher
Championship number four was not far away for Michael Schumacher. A dominating year saw him finish well clear of second place man David Coulthard and team-mate Rubens Barrichello. With the championship well and truly wrapped up before the final race of the year, double points would not have made the blindest bit of difference, even if Coulthard had taken 20 and Schumacher none:
- Michael Schumacher (123) 133
- David Coulthard 65
- Rubens Barrichello (56) 58
Elsewhere, the rest of the top ten would have stayed exactly where they finished if double points had been available. There would have been no movement in the Constructors table either.
2002 – Michael Schumacher
Another Michael Schumacher championship in 2002 saw him beat competition from team-mate Rubens Barrichello. As had been the case in 2001, the championship came long before the final race of the season, so Barrichello could not have closed the 63 point gap with double, triple or even quadruple points available:
- Michael Schumacher (144) 154
- Rubens Barrichello (77) 83
- Juan Pablo Montoya (50) 53
As was also the case in 2001, double points would not have altered the top ten at all and the Constructors championship would also have remained static.
So far, looking back at ten seasons (1993 – 2002), the double points rule would not have made a difference to any of the championships, had they finished as they did. Part two of this analysis will look at 2003 – 2013 and see what part, if any, double points would have played.