• The Inside Line

Double the fun

Kate Walker
January 31, 2014
The idea of double points has got the press room thinking of alternatives © Sutton Images

Winter testing involves a certain amount of dead time, with a silent track as teams work frantically in the pits to try and establish just why their car stopped suddenly. The lack of a TV feed makes for a lot of guesswork in the press room, and the time taken to recover cars under red flags gives the press pack ample time for silliness and speculation.

Bernie Ecclestone's double points idea refuses to die - for this year at least - and while the concept is sorely lacking in support, it has triggered a lot of press room discussion about other ways to spice up Formula One without making one race (or three races) more equal than the others.

There are the old classics, like bringing back manual gearboxes to reintroduce the concept of human error, and using ballast to handicap faster cars. The reverse grid chestnut always pops up in these chats.

But the best idea to emerge from the Jerez press room this week was the introduction of a draft system for driver picks, whereby the teams select their pilots in reverse championship order. The likes of Marussia and Caterham would have to decide whether to go for the talent of the Vettels and Alonsos of this world in order to improve their haul from the prize fund, or to secure their operating costs with a pay driver.

Watching the combination of driver pairings that emerged as teams tried to balance their competitive instincts with their financial interests would be fascinating.

And - in theory, at least - it should stop endless strings of championship success with a single team and driver pairing, as the odds of the championship winning team retaining their title-securing driver would be very slim indeed.

There are benefits for the drivers, too. Not only would they have to become more adaptable creatures, au fait with a variety of working styles and design philosophies, but the draft system would give the mid- and lower-ranked drivers the opportunity to work with successful race teams, giving them the experience of other operating styles that they can then apply to backmarker outfits in successive years.

Sure, there are flaws. And there's no way F1 would ever introduce it. But two or three years ago we would have laughed ourselves silly at the idea of double points for a single race.

What madcap schemes would you introduce to keep F1 a season-long nail-biter?

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