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How the new points system stacks up to others

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The brand new F1 points system has been confirmed this week. The original proposal, which had also been confirmed, has been altered, giving a 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 system. I like it. I think it’s well-balanced, with more relative points on offer for a win over 2nd, but at the same time, maintaining tight gaps between points in the lower positions, and offering points to more finishers. I think it will be a more accurate representation of the season than the previous system, which was too close, more artificially close than accurate. It was a halfway house between a NASCAR-like system which completely rewards consistency and the previous system which heavily rewarded wins and only those that finished in the top 6. This new system is also halfway but more balanced.

But how does the current system compare to other systems used in the world of motorsport? Although there are different scales for each, it is relatively simple to work out. To round all the systems to 10 to put it even with the old score for 1st place, divide 10 by the score for 1st, and then multiply each other score by the figure you get from that.

As an example, here is the current F1 system with the score for 1st rounded to 10 – the scores are multiplied by 0.4:

1st – 10
2nd – 7.2
3rd – 6
4th – 4.8
5th – 4
6th – 3.2
7th – 2.4
8th – 1.6
9th – 0.8
10th – 0.4

As you can see, compared to the 2003-09 system (10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1), less points are on offer relative to the score for 1st for a 2nd place finish, but it is the same for 3rd. There are then less for 4th, but the same for 5th, and more for 6th down. You can also compare to the 1991-2002 system (10-6-4-3-2-1) – more points are on offer for every position. Indeed, the only F1 systems where 2nd place is worth more than it is now is when 1st was worth 8 points and 2nd was worth 6, from 1950-1960.

So how about other series? NASCAR is the most infamous for consistency, so let’s look at the top 10 for that:

1st – 10
2nd – 9.19
3rd – 8.92
4th – 8.65
5th – 8.38
6th – 8.11
7th – 7.89
8th – 7.68
9th – 7.46
10th – 7.24

So finishing 10th in a NASCAR race is worth comparatively more than finishing 2nd in an F1 race from 2010 onwards, showing the artificial nature of the system. And yet this system is one of the longest-running – apart from adding a few more points for a win in recent years (meaning it was even “worse”), the basic system, which even rewards drivers that didn’t qualify with points, has been the same since the early 1970s.

MotoGP is another relevant series – the new F1 system has been described by some as ‘MotoGP-based’, which I think is a bit inaccurate, as you can see below:

1st – 10
2nd – 8
3rd – 6.4
4th – 5.2
5th – 4.4
6th – 4
7th – 3.6
8th – 3.2
9th – 2.8
10th – 2.4

It is even more based on consistency than the last F1 system, let alone the new one. The gap between 1st and 2nd is the same but the remaining positions are worth more.

Superleague Formula’s system (50-45-40-36-32…) is even more about consistency, though, ending up not far off NASCAR with 22 positions being rewarded with points and an extremely close system amongst the top positions:

1st – 10
2nd – 9
3rd – 8
4th – 7.2
5th – 6.4
6th – 5.8
7th – 5.2
8th – 4.6
9th – 4
10th – 3.6

As is demonstrated above, the leading positions are quite close, with virtually no extra rewarded for winning over 2nd, but the gradient is a lot steeper than in NASCAR, and it actually gets passed by the IRL system (50-40-35-32-30…), which is the other way around – a steeper gradient to begin with with it becoming shallower down the grid and rewarding every driver that enters:

1st – 10
2nd – 8
3rd – 7
4th – 6.4
5th – 6
6th – 5.6
7th – 5.2
8th – 4.8
9th – 4.4
10th – 4

Thus the F1 systems of old are far far less about consistency than the current systems, and so the new one does bring F1 into line with other series by offering points to more positions, whilst opening up a gap between 1st and 2nd. One system it and the previous system is quite close to is the old WRC system (20-15-12-10-8…), used from 1979-1996 before the F1 systems became standard for all series:

1st – 10
2nd – 7.5
3rd – 6
4th – 5
5th – 4
6th – 3
7th – 2
8th – 1.5
9th – 1
10th – 0.5

It starts out offering more points than the new F1 system for 2nd and 4th, the same for 3rd and 5th, and less from there on down – the same as the 10-8-6 system. This was a system I had started to look at on old F1 championships just before the first new system (25-20-15-10-8…) was confirmed. The first thing that struck me was when I calculated the 1950 season, naturally a good place to start – whilst the 10-8-6 system would’ve handed the title not to Fangio or Farina but to Fagioli, who didn’t win a race that year, the WRC system would’ve given it Farina, the “rightful” winner.

So what about the previously proposed system for this year (25-20-15-10-8…)? How does that stack up to the one they’ve gone for? Well, it should be pretty easy to compare anyway, but for the sake of comparing to others:

1st – 10
2nd – 8
3rd – 6
4th – 4
5th – 3.2
6th – 2.4
7th – 2
8th – 1.2
9th – 0.8
10th – 0.4

I don’t think this was a particularly good system and I’m glad they’ve ditched it. There are 2 reasons for this – the gap between 1st and 2nd remained the same but with less points on offer to lower positions, and the weird anomaly of 6th-8th, where the gaps weren’t consistent. Both these flaws were corrected with the new system.

So, there we are. That is how the new F1 points system stacks up to those of other series. Not exactly the most gripping article ever but just something I’ve been working on lately.

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Written by James Bennett

February 6, 2010 at 00:07

Posted in F1

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