To win the “Visa Fastest Lap Award” drivers will no longer have to set the fastest lap of the race. A driver could actually set the 11th fastest lap of the race, but still be given the award, and the point that goes with it.
That’s because only those that finish inside the top 10 will be eligible for the award.
It’s been more than a year since Sebastien Buemi and Lucas Di Grassi spent the final London ePrix diving in and out of the pits, trying to avoid the race as they battled for fastest lap and the crucial two points that would decide the championship.
The pair are not the only drivers to have abandoned a race to focus on taking points for the fastest lap, and Formula E organisers have tweaked the rules to stop drivers “sacrificing their ability to complete the race” by fighting for fastest lap.
Only, instead of only ruling out people who abandon the race, organisers have decided nobody outside the top 10 should be able to claim the award, even if they set the fastest lap of the race whilst striving to finish as high up as possible.
The new tweak to the fastest lap rule goes too far. There are any number of ways a driver who finishes outside the regular points scoring positions could set the fastest lap of the race.
a driver could set the fastest lap in the first stint, only to drop to the back of the field with a poor pit stop and finish further down the order. Or he could start towards the back of the grid, struggle to pass a slow driver, then speed away once he’s past to try to catch up with the driver ahead. Or a driver in the bottom half of the results could just set a fast lap.
It’s understandable why Formula E wants to stop drivers abandoning the race, but there is a much simpler solution that doesn’t defeat the purpose of it being a “fastest lap” award: make the point only available to drivers who finish within two laps of the race winner.
It’s a far from perfect addition, as drivers could still set the fastest lap then retire before the end of the race, but it solves the problem Formula E has faced and means the award will more likely actually go to the driver who sets the fastest lap.