Site logo

What Is The Point - Part 1


The warrior, emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius, he of stoic views, remains an infinitely quotable human. In this instance I'm drawn to his statement that, "Our lives are what our thoughts make them". His point being, the only meaning which exists in this world is that which you elect to create.

To paraphrase, "What's the bloody point?"

I'm sure those at Passchendaele have a different view to myself, our dear readers, Bernie and Toto on that one. While it might well be transcendental to ignore one's immediate surroundings, it can - in extremis - be an awkward state of mind to possess. So along with endless tinkering with the rules of combat, by which teams can or cannot spend money on free drinks in the rest room, or new floors mid-season, we now have, once again, a discussion around the points system.

Hence, we are once more forced to ask. "What is the point?"

The history of the awarding of points is a tortured one at best. Fangio swapped cars. Only the top six got points. No point for pole or fastest lap. A handful of races per year. The Indy 500 used to count. The newest delight of Sprint Races. When are the point multipliers of "Best looking partner", "Cutest trackside pet", "Most Instagram likes", "Most collectable watch" or "Best pout in a social media post for the new generation of fans", going to be considered?

Seriously. The phrase "Resting on your laurels" came about as the original Olympic Games awarded a laurel wreath as the one and only delight for a win. No medal. No million dollar Nike deal. Simply a woven crown of green leaves... and you're done. We all know you'd won, and that's the point. On the day, you came first. See you in four years... which given the medical, hygiene and endless-warring of the times made a title defence a rare thing. The idea of being a seven time champion back then (which would require you to contest Olympics over 24 years) would be fanciful. Assuming you were 18 at the first, you'd be 42 at the last. So you turn up in 776BC for a foot race, and you'd need to be back on the start line in 752BC. At a time the average life expectancy was 45 years. Impossible? No. Improbable? Yes.

So we now have drivers trolling around at the back of the pack with more points than Niki Lauda (420.5) or Gillies Villeneuve (101). What is the point!? Is greatness diminished, or do we have the wrong pair of glasses on? Dear Reader, do not adjust your glasses! It is a case of catching up to reality. Do goal posts shift? I'd observe, yes...

While others might have voiced it, it was the remarkable Michael Schumacher that first went to great lengths to highlight that, "... you cannot compare across eras". This was followed some years later by Sir Lewis telling an interviewer, "I do not want to be the next Senna, I want to be the first me".

Both great men understood that as times, competitors, cars and race tracks change, so comparisons across the eras are a waste of time and energy. The 100m sprint? Yup. Same as it was back in 776BC. Well, they raced naked and bare foot then, but you know, mostly the same. The basics have not changed. The first run from Marathon? Same deal. The distance has stuck, and it's your problem to cover it on foot. Now, were Ben Johnson (or any of the other five "dirty runners" in that 1988 Olympic final) to go back to 776BC they'd wipe the floor with those modest amateurs. Ask them to live in the past for a month and they'd probably all die of unspeakable infections. Bring the winners of 776BC forward to today... well I think they'd flourish if we could keep them off Twitter and junk food. To make it to forty years old back then was a serious achievement, not a right.

Technology changes. So racing cars change. We used to have a handful of races each year. It now feels like we have a race every few hours! We used to award a few points for first, we now award 25! Heck! Let's work backward on a new loser gets something approach... Let's award 25 points for coming last, and work up the finishing order. Why not have 500 points for first? 200 points for pole. 150 for fastest lap. 75 points for fastest pit stop. 55 points for longest stint on the same tyres. 25 points for most amusing radio comeback. 20 points for most off-track violations and no penalty from the stewards. 10 points for most unexpected use of a swear word. 10 points for biggest blank of a celeb on the pit walk that no one in F1 has ever heard of. 750 points for being able to supply front row tickets to an upcoming Taylor Swift concert. 15 points for correctly predicting your own finishing position. 25 points for punting your team mate off the track and not getting a penalty from the stewards. Flavour and delight! Or horrid Dante's vision of Hell?

By my rough calculation, allowing 21 races in a season, that means the winner could amass something in excess of 20,000 points in a single year! That's got to be great! Right?

Even coming last you will surpass Fangio's lifetime points balance (277.5) about 10 races into the season! What's not to love?

So what does the point system achieve? How do we compare across eras? More importantly, why? Taylor Swift has out-sold Elvis, does that make Elvis crap? Elvis did more USA gigs than Mozart, does that make Mozart a loser? Is "Mozart the loser" a great meme, or Twitter tactic? Noting that first one would need to educate many a Twitter user as to who the heck is Mozart... Heck shall we here at Pitpass push the hash-tag #MozartHadIt! Simply to annoy and confuse folk?

No. Marcus Aurelius had it right (annoyingly bright and reasonable for an emperor to be honest). Our thoughts make our lives. We love the humanity and heroism of the drivers. We marvel at the genius of the best engineers and designers. We delight in daring strategy. It matters because we elect to make it matter.

I awake each morning and I'm not on the Somme or Passchendaele, I'm in a Western country with a democratic system whereby we disagree at the ballot box and down the pub. We respect the right to utterly disagree with one another's opinion. And that, dear reader, is perfect, priceless and worth risking your life for. Respecting the right to have ideas, opinions and beliefs that are utterly contradictory is a keystone of decent civilisation.

The finest of the past were gladiators of the highest order. The gladiators of today work within the system forced upon them. Just as those gladiators of the past worked within the social and sporting norms of their day.

What is the point? Dear reader what is it that we shall do? "Do not go gentle into that Good Night". Dylan Thomas had it right. How do we fight our own humanity? We are each born into an environment not of our making (unless one of our readers is Jesus). Embrace extra points. Embrace a race a day for nine months of the year (which would be around 280 races a year). Embrace Liberty media turning the sporting aspects of "our sport" into a Dr. Phil intervention moment.

At the end of the day amazing drivers still drive insane cars (sorry packages) around amazing tracks. I guess that is the point.

Max Noble

Learn more about Max and check out his previous features, here



more features >


galleries >

  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images


or Register for a Pitpass ID to have your say

Please note that all posts are reactively moderated and must adhere to the site's posting rules and etiquette.

Post your comment



1. Posted by Max Noble, 06/06/2024 0:48

"@Willy56 - Indeed! It’s all about sustainable revenue, not great racing :-)

@Spindoctor, glad you enjoyed. I did ponder building an Excel Spreadsheet for the second part of this article, but it was clearly going to be a very “Down, down, down the rabbit hole” exercise with no reasonable end in sight. Cars in the field at the start and at the flag. Percentage of mechanical failures. Deaths. Time gaps between cars, and between team mates… Fastest lap… factor it all in to give a “Balanced Worth of the Win” score. I believe it would still not have answered the question!

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

2. Posted by Spindoctor, 30/05/2024 13:19

"@Max Noble - thanks for another thought-provoking essay.

First a caveat & possible apology. I'm currently recovering from a sojourn in an hospital in Dylan's home town & some of the drugs I've (legally!) ingested have had unexpected psychotropic effects.

Modern research shows that our interactions with the world are never unmediated: whatever data your eyes, ears etc are absorbing is *interpreted* by those pesky leetle grey cells, and that makes & remakes the world. I'd probably go a bit further than Marcus Aurelius, because for all practical purposes.: 'Our World is what our thoughts make it'..... The world is everything that is the case

So posing philosophical niceties aside, what's *my* point?
I guess it's to follow-up on the notion of 'mediation' between some notional 'objective' reality or token and its meaning in *our* worlds.

The Points 'System' (I'm starting to use that advisedly) in F1 is presumably intended to provide a reasonably coherent measure of excellence, mediating and allowing us to interpret the 'meaning' of the data from physical on-track performances achieved over hours, weeks, months, years etc.
The most simplistic system would allocate like this: a win would earn X points, 2nd place X-1, 3rd place X-3 & so-on. Accumulatively the "best" Divers\Cars\Teams should accumulate the most points. The outcome of expending all that blood, sweat, tears & hydrocarbons summarised through simple numbers. Nirvana.

Time passes & the grass grows. The cars, teams & most importantly the number of races changes almost beyond recognition. Our simple system is deemed no-longer fit for purpose, now being required to accommodate these changing factors & provide comparisons of excellence across eras.
We now have wodges of data points from various epochs, but they no-longer relate to the same things. Bummer.

Schumacher's oranges are demonstrably different to Hamilton's Apples and the acquisition by Lewis of more of the latter isn't directly comparable to & shouldn't diminish the achievements of the former, and that's within largely similar eras. As the context has evolved, so using these simplified numbers a comparators becomes less valid.
Resolving this,*if only for fun* could be relatively straightforward. But 1st a major caveat: the operative word is "fun".
Those numbers from the 20's- 21st Century simply don't\can't convey the difference between a regular very real likelihood of injury or death which faced the likes of Fangio, Moss, Von Tripps et al & the (thankfully) safer, less stressful environment of today's F1 cockpit. Context is all.

Putting that to one side, we could create a relatively simple algorithm to "normalise" the "simple" numbers across eras. In any season the maximum points available to each team driver in any season would be X. In previous seasons owing to different scoring systems etc it might be Y. A crude comparator would be to normalise performances by multiplying the actual scores by the ratio of X to Y (or Y to X).
Our simple points become less simple, but are possibly now more representative.

Ultimately of course, the "objective" reality is the number of points, this is just another bit of mediation."

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

3. Posted by Willy56, 28/05/2024 14:58

"Absolutely correct Max.
The prevailing attitude of today seems to be to award something to everyone who shows up. This is apparent in schools on track day when all the kids get some sort of award just for being there. Even the fat kid who eats the paste glue gets something.
This system sets an extremely disturbing precedent as these kids grow up expecting to be rewarded for doing their bare minimum at anything because "I am here".
The FIA and Liberty want to increase the fan base. That is it. That is all they want to happen, and they have zero interest in making the racing any better as they feel they are already preaching to the choir.
I for one would truly love to see the cars trimmed back at least 24" in length, reduce aero, reduce driver aids and bring back refueling.
But then I am a dinosaur."

Rating: Positive (2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

4. Posted by Max Noble, 27/05/2024 12:50

"@Pawsche - My sincere apologies! What was I thinking giving up such priceless ideas for free!? Following Monaco this weekend, I can see “Biggest Pout” also being a point worthy option… and your respectful scribe would never go there on most excessive approach from behind… That’s an award we can all live without…"

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

5. Posted by Pawsche, 24/05/2024 23:01

""When are the point multipliers of "Best looking partner", "Cutest trackside pet", "Most Instagram likes", "Most collectable watch" or "Best pout in a social media post for the new generation of fans", going to be considered?"

FFS Max!! Don't go giving them ideas!"

Rating: Positive (4)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

6. Posted by Max Noble, 23/05/2024 9:11

"@All - glad you’re finding this a good conversation starter. Part two will be along shortly…

Rating: Positive (2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

7. Posted by ffracer, 22/05/2024 14:28

"@ Max Noble : thanks for paraphrasing years of angst and my resolution to ‘whiskey on the drip’ lol. Fantastic read! Puts in perspective why today’s F1 bonanza for teams - smaller grids and points for half, Q3 for 10 cars when 80s qualifying giants like Senna, Schumacher, Prost, Arnoux etc didn’t have that luxury, I could go on for pages - disturbs me to the core. Wrong to compare era greats.

- when you think about Monaco ‘80 with late great Gilles Villeneuve dragging that bottom qualifying Ferrari 312 T5 to fifth (posted fastest laps with it in a late race drizzle while on slicks to boot!) when teammate reigning WC Sheckter , no slouch, couldn’t qualify his, for 2 points ( and he did this a few times that year), some races with 26 starters,

Worse: all those races an Osella, Eurobrun, Arrows, ATS ,Shadow, Coloni, Larousse ,etc etc etc finished 7th?!?!

Worst: you think about the late 80s/90s prequalifying Thursdays, those poor teams sent home that night , this is almost criminal to all those teams and all those warriors. Such a tragedy."

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

8. Posted by Cobra Driver, 22/05/2024 10:33

"Irony, thy name is Max."

Rating: Positive (3)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

9. Posted by Superbird70, 21/05/2024 17:28

"Why do we not just award points on a non-linear scale based on how close to the race winner everyone finishes? Only those on the lead lap and within 107% of the winner score points. Now a time penalty might become more important.

Or ... maybe just points for those three on the podium. 3 for first, 2 for second and 1 for third. Math made simple. No points for fastest lap or sprints. No points just for showing up."

Rating: Positive (4)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

10. Posted by kenji, 21/05/2024 13:42

"@ Max Noble....Interesting! Noise, danger and massive rewards for the chosen few. An admiration for excellence appeals to lot of people..... which is the point. In addition to your points paying awards list is one which I will quite seriously propose. I'd like to see a bonus points award to any driver when he wins his very first F1 race. The achievement would be recognition of just what that really means. It recognises the moment when they actually are included as a winner in the record books. It can only ever be awarded once so it would be unlikely to upset the records dramatically. A bonus of double points would be an added incentive to 'keep up the good work' with only positive outcomes."

Rating: Positive (3)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

Share this page


Copyright © Pitpass 2002 - 2024. All rights reserved.

about us  |  advertise  |  contact  |  privacy & security  |  rss  |  terms