F1 gives green light to fastest-lap point

Driver, who must finish in top 10, and team to get extra point each starting from this season

Valtteri Bottas set seven fastest laps last year but he did not finish in the top 10 in Azerbaijan.
Valtteri Bottas set seven fastest laps last year but he did not finish in the top 10 in Azerbaijan.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Formula One is changing its scoring system to award a point to the driver who sets the fastest race lap, starting from this weekend's season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

The driver, whose team will also score an extra point for the constructors' championship, must finish in the top 10.

The sport's governing body FIA said on Monday that the F1 Strategy Group and F1 Commission had given unanimous approval in an e-vote.

The measure had already been approved by the FIA's World Motor Sport Council on March 7.

Finland's Valtteri Bottas, who drives for Mercedes as teammate to five-time champion Lewis Hamilton, last season set seven fastest laps in the 21-race championship.

F1, which will mark its 1,000th race this year at the Chinese Grand Prix, awarded a point for the fastest lap over the first decade of its existence as a world championship from 1950-59.

Ross Brawn, F1's managing director for motorsports, revealed the move was part of efforts to "improve the show while maintaining the integrity of our sport".

"We felt that the reintroduction, after 60 years, of a point for the driver of the fastest lap in the race goes in this direction," he said.

"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."

Brawn added the extra point would also make the final part of a race more interesting, when fuel loads have dropped and cars are at their fastest.

While drivers outside the top 10 cannot gain a point from the fastest lap, they will still have an incentive to go for it and help the team by denying an extra point to rivals who might have a driver in a scoring position.

Teams will therefore be more alert to who has the fastest lap, with 21 extra points - almost a race win - up for grabs in total over the duration of a season.

The extra points could make a difference to a championship outcome. While it would not have made a difference last year, Felipe Massa would have been champion for Ferrari in 2008 instead of Lewis Hamilton for McLaren if the rule on the fastest-lap point was in place.

They finished a point apart, but the Brazilian had three fastest laps to one by the Briton, although strategy would doubtless have changed had an extra point also been available then.

According to BBC Sport, the decision to award bonus points for fastest laps stems from "a desire to increase F1's entertainment value", with everyone in the sport accepting "the show could do with being improved".


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 13, 2019, with the headline 'F1 gives green light to fastest-lap point'. Subscribe