As the Formula One community continue preparations ahead of the 2017 season, some of its staff wait to hear the latest news over Manor following their recent entrance back into administration.
The sport began to rest in the winter warming with the thought that every team on the 2016 grid scored points for the first time since the 2009 season, but an ugly aspect of F1 has again arisen through irony.
Felipe Nasr’s ninth-place finish in his home race in Brazil gave Sauber their first points of the season and lifted them ahead of Manor and into 10th place in the Constructors’ Championship with two points, one more than their British rivals. Unbeknown to him at the time, Manor would be the only option for Nasr to race in the sport for a third season.
It was unfortunate for Manor to lose this position at such a late stage in the season, and plunge them into the financial mire that they are now in, likely waiting for another hero or heroine to come and save them in order to compete in another F1 season.
This comes after Team Lotus (a.k.a. Caterham), Virgin Racing (a.k.a. Marussia and Manor Marussia), Hispania (a.k.a. HRT), and Sauber all failed to score points in different seasons between 2010 and 2015. Under the current points system, 25 points are given to the race winner down to one point for 10th-place.
The situation of having all teams in a series score points is not anything strange in motorsport other than F1. Many other series have different points systems or have more competition to prevent such a scenario which can look odd. It must be frustrating for staff at backmarker teams who work hard to claim finishes from 11th to 22nd at every race.
2017 could well see both of these teams struggle if they are still competing. The question will be asked over whether Sauber can perform with a 2016-spec Ferrari engine, while a debate would rage over whether Manor could continue to benefit from a Mercedes power unit with what would likely be a very underdeveloped chassis that could be used in 2017.
The way prize money is distributed has long been discussed and no changes have yet been made to give more revenue to the fierce underdogs of the sport. If this won’t be changed, could it be time to change the way points are given to give teams a further chance?
F1 could introduce an IndyCar-style system with every driver scoring points from the race winner to someone finishing in 22nd. In the American series, the winner of a race claims 50 points, with the amounts decreasing to five for a driver finishing in 25th.
Under a new system. there would be no points for retirements to continue the brutal nature of failing to finish races. In this scenario, there are no points for poles or FLs, which may make it seem more feasible for some fans who don’t want points to take over in absolutely every aspect of F1.
For example, a race winner could claim 30 points, with 25 for second and 20 for third, leaving fourth to 22nd fighting for points decreasing from 19 to one.
This example wouldn’t have had much effect in the front end of the 2016 season statistics. Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg would still be the 2016 champion, but team battles would have been made just more mouth-wateringly closer. Rosberg would have 507 points, leading Hamilton by 18 points, with the Briton just 74 ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.
It would also rightfully show a driver’s consistency over a season as they may not be gazumped by someone who has had one good result, whether it be a flash of skill or luck, especially at the lower end of the grid.
A team would no longer be wondering when their one and only chance for a glorious result would be arriving as every weekend would assist in their end total.
Under this hypothetical points system, the Constructors’ Championship would have no changes. Mercedes would still lead Red Bull and Ferrari in the top three, with the Silver Arrows just four points away from a total of 1000.
Each team would have at least 200 points, and the bottom three constructors, Renault, Sauber and Manor, would be within just 79 points of each other.
If a team were to continue to dominate the sport in future, a change similar to this may please those who want a bit more competition. It would take longer for one driver to win a title and keep some rivals in with an outside chance, keeping hype around the destiny of the title going for longer.
Earning points for low finishes would also represent a damage limitation scenario for front-running drivers to score even if there car suffers mechanical issues, with may slightly appease some criticism from the likes of Mercedes fans over apparent conspiracy theories over Lewis Hamilton’s failure to win the 2016 championship.
Points system changes have been resented by some in the past as another gimmick adding to the F1 circus, but it can be one way of making the sport more interesting if minor or wholesale changes are expected under Liberty Media, if or when they confirm the takeover of the sport in the coming months.