Are you sitting down? Go on, sit down, right nowâ€¦
The FIA has just announced a rule that will see the final race of the 2014 Formula 1 season, and beyond, be awarded double championship points in a bid to keep the title race alive to the last possible moment.
It might seem like first-class comedy, but this is real and it is going to happen next year. The rule change means the winner of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will get 50 points, instead of the usual 25. More pertinently, the driver who finishes third in the final race will get 30 points, more than of any other race winner during the year.
Also agreed at the meeting of the F1 Strategy Group was the introduction of permanent driver numbers. Each driver can pick a number between 2 and 99, with the number 1 reserved for the world champion if he chooses to use it.
A seemingly impromptu tyre test will take place in Bahrain next week (17â€“19 December) to give teams an opportunity to test Pirelli’s 2014 rubber. While all teams were invited only six of the 11 teams have accepted: Red Bull Racing, Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren, Force India and Toro Rosso.
Five second penalties for minor infringements could also be introduced in 2014 after an in principle agreement was reached. We suspect arguments over how such a penalty would be added might scupper this for next year, at least.
And, finally, in what is possibly the most far reaching of the agenda items, agreement has been reached, in principle, to introduce a cost cap to Formula 1 starting from the 2015 season.
Back to the double points decision for a moment. We wonder if race organisers will now fight for the right to host the final grand prix of the season; in effect the status of the event has increased twofold. And will this gimmick be accepted by F1 fans? We’ve become used to DRS for artificial overtaking, so in time we expect the double points race will be embraced too. As dumb as that seems right now.
One last question: How long until Bernie’s sprinklers get switched on at random intervals to help spice up the racing?
[Pic: Red Bull/Getty Images]
Formula One Regulation Changes
FIA Formula One World Championship
Paris â€“ 9 December 2013
Following a meeting of the F1 Strategy Group and the Formula One Commission in Paris today, the following items have been unanimously approved:
â€¢ Cost cap
The principle of a global cost cap has been adopted. The limit will be applied from January 2015.
A working group will be established within the coming days comprising the FIA, representatives of the Commercial Rights Holder and Team representatives.
The objective of the working group will be to have regulations approved by the end of June 2014.
â€¢ Pirelli Tyre test â€“ Bahrain, 17-19 December, 2013
The F1 Commission agreed to a change to the 2013 Sporting Regulations, on safety grounds, allowing the Formula One tyre supplier to carry out a three-day test in Bahrain from 17-19 December, 2013. All Formula One teams have been invited to take part in the test and six have accepted: Red Bull Racing, Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren, Force India and Toro Rosso.
â€¢ Driver numbers
Drivers will be asked to choose their race number, between 2 and 99, for the duration of their career in the FIA Formula One World Championship. Number 1 will be reserved for the current World Champion, should he choose to use it.
If more than one driver choses the same number, priority will be given to the driver who finished highest in the previous yearâ€™s championship.
â€¢ New penalties
The principle of a five-second penalty for minor infringements was agreed. In what form such a penalty will be applied will be discussed with Formula Oneâ€™s teams in order that a new regulation be introduced for 2014 season.
â€¢ Points for the last race
Double driversâ€™ and constructorsâ€™ points will be awarded at the final race of the Formula One season in order to maximise focus on the Championship until the end of the campaign.
These changes are immediately applicable, given the mandate assigned to the FIA President at the last World Motor Sport Council meeting, held on 4 December in Paris.
â€“ FIA Formula One Press Office