F1 to award point to driver who sets fastest lap in a grand prix

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton (left) and Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel
Lewis Hamilton (left) and Sebastian Vettel are again expected to be two of the main protagonists in the battle for the F1 drivers' title

Formula 1 is set to change its scoring system this year by giving a point to the driver who sets the fastest lap in a grand prix.

The move is part of a bid to make F1 more appealing and increase audiences.

Bosses of F1 discussed the idea after fan surveys threw it up as one of many proposals that might add extra interest to races.

It is expected to be officially confirmed before the season-opening race in Australia next weekend.

The move has been approved by the FIA's world motor sport council (WMSC), a key legislative body, but still needs to be signed off by two further bodies - the strategy group of leading teams, F1 and FIA, and the F1 Commission, a body on which the FIA, teams, sponsors and circuits have representation.

The driver with the fastest lap will only be awarded the point if he also finishes in the top 10.

Approval is expected to be a formality, especially as the idea was initially discussed by the strategy group and approved before going to the WMSC.

It will be the first time a point has been awarded for the fastest lap since the first decade of the F1 World Championship between 1950-59.

The feeling is that the change might add extra interest towards the end of a race, when the action can tend to die down following the conclusion of all the pit stops.

Bosses accept there could be negatives to the idea - such as a championship being decided by a fastest-lap point, or a title contender's team-mate, who is not in championship contention, setting a fastest lap to disadvantage a rival from another team.

But the feeling was that all teams and drivers would be aware of this issue and any of them could choose to take action.

The idea was one of many that were put to fans in surveys conducted by F1 last year.

The feedback was that it was an idea worth discussing and F1's senior stakeholders concluded it should be adopted.

What difference could it have made in previous seasons? - analysis

Last year, the answer is none whatsoever, in terms of the outcome of the championship.

But in 2008, it would have made Felipe Massa champion rather than Lewis Hamilton, who famously pipped the Brazilian at the last corner of the final race and won the title by a single point. Massa had two fastest laps in 2008 and Hamilton one.

But that's a fallacious argument, because in 2008 there was not a point for fastest lap - and, had there been, the teams and drivers would have conducted the season differently based on that knowledge.

That was a point made to BBC Sport by a senior figure in F1 on Friday afternoon when asked whether the sport's bosses had done any research into the potential effect of this change before deciding on it.

What did inform the decision was a desire to increase F1's entertainment value. Everyone in F1 accepts the show could do with being improved.

The feeling of F1's owners Liberty Media is that there is no silver bullet, and that lots of changes - big and small - are needed.

Big ones are coming in 2021 - to revenue distribution, to team spending and to the cars themselves.

This is a small one. Some will argue it is unnecessary, even a gimmick. The counter-point is that it might add a new dimension to races and the season and make for an extra talking point.

The verdict will come at the end of the season.


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