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Wolff: Team bosses shocked by points backlash

NEWS STORY
29/01/2014

Though the proposal was passed with barely a murmur from the F1 Strategy Group last week, team bosses are aware that fans are not happy with the new double points rule.

From the moment it was first mentioned, fan reaction has been predictable, that Formula One's powers that be are attempting to manipulate the result they want - when they want - putting business firmly before sport.

Bernie Ecclestone's proposal that the last race be worth double points - he actually wants the last three races to be worth double - is, in the eyes of many, a manipulation too far. Whilst fans obviously want to see the title fight(s) go down to the wire and not have the championship dominated by one driver or team, they want to see it achieved in a fair way and not by manipulation that effectively punishes success.

While most fans are totally against the idea, so too are some drivers and even some team bosses, yet according to Mercedes’ Toto Wolff the reaction against the rules has caught Planet Paddock completely off guard.

"The shitstorm we got afterwards was something which was not expected," he told reporters at Jerez. "We discussed it up and down and the reason was that for the last years we have seen the dominance of a driver and team and the (TV) audiences were not as expected.

"Was it the right move or not? Ninety nine percent of our fans and spectators, and this is what counts, told us it was the wrong move. So perhaps it is something to revisit," he admitted.

"We decided to keep it for the moment," he continued, "but there are discussions ongoing. Things need to be done, and when you see TV audiences generally dropping then you need to try out things. This maybe wasn't the right thing, but maybe we need to find out."

While it might surprise Mr Wolff, it wasn’t merely the domination of Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull that saw audiences fall in 2013, it was the ludicrous situation with the tyres and then the mid-season change to the compounds which saw the pendulum unfairly swing away from some teams who had mastered the original rubber in favour of others.

The drop in TV viewing figures is also due to a 'sport' that not only puts business first but makes it so blatantly obvious, at times seemingly going out of its way to alienate the fans that are its life blood.

On Tuesday, after months of anticipation, the sport, having limped back into the spotlight with some of the most half-hearted launches ever witnessed, unveiling cars that are already a laughing stock, managed to fire even more bullets into an already badly damaged foot by putting on one of the most anti climatic non-events in living memory.

Never has a sport seemed more determined to alienate its audience.

Hear that knocking at the door Mr Wolff? It's fans getting mighty tired at seeing their sport having every last ounce of excitement and passion wrung out of it... and any team boss that doesn't understand their frustration has clearly forgotten what (hopefully) first attracted them to the sport in the first place.

Chris Balfe

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Paul C, 31/01/2014 5:38

"Oops. I left one major word at the end - changes. All of the current and recent F1 cars appeared to be designed by copybook."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Paul C, 31/01/2014 5:07

"How about a one sheet rulebook? All of f1's rules should be brief and allow for real, not invisible and incremental."

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3. Posted by TokyoAussie, 31/01/2014 3:58

"Backlash, now? So far the backlash is pretty universal, but tepid. Wait until after the last race of the season if a driver needs those double points to pass the championship leader for the title. Then, you'll have real backlash. I pity the driver placed in that position. World champion according to the rules, but nobody will respect it as such.

Stupid stupid rule."

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4. Posted by Team Lotus, 30/01/2014 19:26

"And this is one of the problems with F1. Team bosses, and those who govern the sport have become so detached from reality that they are actually shocked by that people don't like this absurd idea.

I keep telling myself that this is just another publicity stunt designed to fill the empty newspaper columns between the end of last season and the beginning of this but somehow it looks more likely that this will actually happen."

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5. Posted by vins0n, 30/01/2014 12:33 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 04/02/2014 7:03)

""99% of the fans - and that's what counts - didn't like it so we decided to keep it."

I remember being at a talk by Mike Gasgoyne in 2003 when he said that F1 could do without the fans who turn up at the races and it was all about TV audiences, that's where the money was. We apparently had to understand that it was a business and that's the way it was. This is a sport that doesn't care about its fans. I don't have SKY so I have to put up with highlights and I'm getting pretty sick of F1 and yet I still love to watch it but there must come a day where I will stop. Why won't F1 help me and the other 99% enjoy watching a sport. We don't want it to turn into American Wrestling where it's all about the show and the outcome is predetermined.

IMO there needs to be a change at the top. The focus is purely on making a few people as much money as possible and that has to stop before F1 dies. If F1 can hear us then why doesn't it listen?

"

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6. Posted by yagijd, 30/01/2014 2:53

"The FIA has never realized that F1 needs less rules not more. Let's go back to cc limits and halve ccs for turbo or superchargers, unlimited brake and traction control and just limit the total area of the aero package. Just watch the innovation then. It would probably cost less than todays monstrosities."

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7. Posted by Vladimir, 30/01/2014 1:34

"If double points are necessary to extend the championship to the end of the season, how comes it wasn't introduced from 2000 thru 2004, when Michael Schumacher was on the way to FIVE straight titles? I have come to the conclusion that Bernie Ecclestone is a complete idiot, and all he is doing is inventing ways to ruin a great sport. And another thing, with all his money, wouldn't you think he could afford a decent haircut?"

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8. Posted by Ro, 29/01/2014 22:39

"Im sorry, but doubling the point on the last race just makes F1 a joke. What next ? the driver with the most points to stop in the pits and run around the car 3 times and then get back in ? ITS A RACE....The reason the viewing figures have gone down is because the races became a procession. Designers should be allowed more freedom, Now an f6 that sound like my cat passing wind? No, sorry. There is more overtaking on a scalextric set...If doubling the points stands, Im switching to MOTOGP where they race....."

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9. Posted by Lancelot37, 29/01/2014 22:14

"The interest started to go when we couldn't get every race on BBC."

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10. Posted by jo6pac, 29/01/2014 20:14

"Yep, turned off dish the other day. I'll catch few races that are shown on tv here in Amerika. Then again I can hardly wait for the next bone headed idea they come up with next.

GrahamG, 53 minutes ago Yes, so true."

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11. Posted by GoodPublicity, 29/01/2014 20:11

"Hear! Hear!"

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12. Posted by Italian Job, 29/01/2014 19:36

"Mr E - If you are going to fiddle with the points why not give either one point (driver and constructor) for each fastest lap or 5 points for THE FASTEST LAP in the race - win, dnf or in between.
l"

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13. Posted by GrahamG, 29/01/2014 19:17

"Absolutely Chris.
Too many gimmicks not enough honest striving
What a distinguished list - useless tyres, forcing people to use tyres they don't want to, artificial overtaking, absolute ban on innovation of any kind, races which have become impossible to follow, hideously expensive rule change, now this double points nonsense. A farce does not begin to describe it.
Why doesn't Bernie declare the finishing order on the grid at the start of each race and save everyone a lot of trouble, that way he could ensure a close result and everyone would save a lot of money."

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14. Posted by Flyer23, 29/01/2014 19:12

"The first and most important issue the FIA need to address is the under car aerodynamics. JUST BAN THEM COMPLETE. FLAT BOTTOM MEANS FLAT. No diffuser, nothing !!! Have the cars look like the early 90's and give back clutch pedals and hand gated shifters. Get rid of the stupid box rules that create the nose of the cars that we have today. Anteaters? Really ? Who thinks of this stuff ?"

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15. Posted by 16boj, 29/01/2014 17:38

"Oh my it gets worse by the season. Do away with the qualifying knock out each team in to the 60th minute that should change the grid around a bit , get tyres that at least survive to half distance, go back to the old points scoring of the past 10. 8. 6. 5. 4. 3. 2 .1. One point for fastest lap . This year with the new engine and design regs they should have planned more mid season testing. i am sure there are more ideas from the fans that make sense so that the viewing figures don't drop away. Will the very average viewer know what the hell is going on while watching the race ?.
Off to put some new tyres on my Xdrive and they will not be made by Pirelli ."

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