How would past points systems affect the 2014 F1 title battle?

Hamilton & Rosberg

Would points systems from years gone by favour Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg more than the 2014 rules?

The 2014 F1 title will be decided in Abu Dhabi this weekend, with the controversial double points rule potentially set to affect the championship outcome.

But what would the scenario be if F1 was still using one of its past points-scoring systems? We've taken a look to see whether Lewis or Nico would have been better off in previous years.

Between 1991 and 2002 points were awarded to the top six in a simple 10-6-4-3-2-1 system. Were this still in place Lewis would have clinched the world title in Brazil. His second place there would have put him on 126, while Nico’s win would leave him on 113 - four shy of the total required to take the final to Abu Dhabi.

The system’s final year saw a dominant Michael Schumacher steamroller the championship. The Ferrari driver scored 11 wins to end the year on 144 points, while team-mate Rubens Barrichello was second on 77.

In 2003 the points system was tweaked slightly: the winner still received 10, but the gap to second was closed to two points, and the top eight now scored, in a 10-8-6-4-3-2-1- system. In part, this was introduced to curb Schumacher’s dominance of the sport. It nearly proved successful. In ‘03, Schumacher won six races and Kimi Raikkonen just one, but the Finn’s seven second-place finishes allowed him to end the campaign just two points behind the Ferrari star.

It would have had a very similar outcome this year, with Lewis heading to Abu Dhabi on 136 and Nico on 134. However Hamilton would still have the relative luxury of knowing that a P2 finish behind his team-mate would be enough to seal the title - just as he does under the 2014 points system.

 

1964 (six of the best)

Way back in 1964, points were awarded on a 9–6–4–3–2–1 basis. However, only the best six results counted toward the championship from nine races held. In 2014 there are 19 races, so let’s keep this simple and say that from those only the best 12 results count.

For Lewis that would mean 10 wins plus a pair of runner-up finishes, totalling 102 heading to Abu Dhabi. Nico would have five wins and seven P2s, giving him 87. As such the title would already be in Lewis’ pocket: a Rosberg win in Abu Dhabi would see the German reach 97 and Hamilton remain on 102.

However back in ’64 it was rather closer, with John Surtees beating Graeme Hill to the title. Surtees had only finished in the points on six occasions and so kept all 40 of his points, while Hill was forced to drop his fifth place finish at the Belgian Grand Prix. That gave Surtees the title by a single point. However, with dropped scores removed, the positions would have been reversed, with Hill triumphing by a single point over his fellow countryman.

Anyone thinking Bernie Ecclestone’s madcap ideas are a recent thing should cast their minds back to late 2008, when he called for points to be done anyway with altogether and replaced with a medals system.

This would have seen the top three drivers awarded medals - gold, silver and bronze - with the title going to whoever had the most golds at the season’s end. If they were tied it would go to silver and then bronze meals to find a champion.

Speaking in March 2009 Ecclestone explained the reasoning behind pushing for the introduction of a medals system, saying he believed it would increase competition for first place.

“The idea is to get people racing. Somebody that’s second has got to try and win rather than thinking that if he happens to win he’ll only get two more points – it’s not a big motivation to try and get past someone.”

But in 2010 the current system was introduced. With a seven-point gap between first and second this effect has been largely achieved - without writing off the rest of the field’s efforts.

But what if it had come to fruition? Ecclestone believed the system would increase title battle excitement, but in 2014 it would have done quite the opposite, with Lewis taking the championship in Russia. The Brit scored his ninth win of the campaign in Sochi and, with only four to his name at the time, Nico would have been out of the running.

In fact, since the idea was first floated, the world title has always gone to the driver with the most wins, making the medals idea seem - no pun intended - rather pointless. The closest was in 2010 when Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso tied for first, second and third places, though the German would still have been champion by dint of having recorded more P4 finishes.