F1 just changed this 60-year rule for the 2019 season
This season of Formula One will be vastly different from all other seasons before, starting with the season opener the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. F1 has just approved a rule change that will award a bonus point to the driver who sets the fastest lap in races in the 2019 season.
But it's not as easy as it sounds. The extra point will only be awarded if the driver who sets the race's fastest lap also finishes in the top 10. Formula1.com issued a statement that said:
“There is, however, a condition for earning the point. Only drivers who are classified in the top 10 at the end of the race are eligible. If you achieve the feat and finish in 11th or lower (or fail to finish), no point will be allocated.”
F1 motorsport director Ross Brawn previously said that the last time a point was awarded for fastest lap was 60 years ago between the years of 1950 and 1959. In the early years of F1, this rule proved highly controversial and even lost a driver the world championship.
In 1958, Mike Hawthorn beat Sterling Moss to the title by one point. Yup, ONE. The then Ferrari driver scored extra points from his five fastest laps to Moss’s three that year.
Brawn hopes that this new rule will invigorate the fans interest and make things more interesting than the past few years.
Here is his full statement:
“Together with the FIA we have been committed to evaluating ideas and solutions that can improve the show whilst maintaining the integrity of our sport.We felt that the reintroduction, after sixty years, of a point for the driver of the fastest lap in the race goes in this direction. We have been considering this solution – which represents a response to detailed research carried out with thousands of our fans around the world – for a number of months. How many times have we heard the drivers on the radio ask the team about who holds the fastest lap? Now it will no longer be only a matter of record and prestige, but there will be a concrete motivation that will make the final part of the race even more interesting. Sometimes it is useful to remind ourselves of the heritage of our sport to move forward.”
But fans however have had a mixed reaction to the introduction of this new rule.
Fastest lap has real meaning again. Why bother setting fastest lap before? Gave you diddly squat. It was more of a statistic than anything. Now it actually means a thing!— Josh Lucas (@Dr50cal) March 11, 2019
"Lewis needs that point for fastest lap...I'm sorry"— ksells (@_ksells) March 11, 2019
This is F1’s most short term gimmick yet. Just like elimination qualifying and DRS it’s a nice idea which completely fails in the real world. As soon as it’s easier to drop back and gain a point from one quick lap you kill racing. Liberty don’t understand their sport— Ruaraidh (@racecraftblog) March 11, 2019
Will the fans come around or do they see this as just another gimmick? We'll find out in a few days at the Australian Grand Prix.