In a last-minute rules change before the start of the new season, Formula 1 announced it would award a bonus point to which ever driver set the fastest lap of the race at each grand prix.
The point is only awarded if the driver who sets the fastest lap finishes in the top 10 positions. It’s been awarded at every race so far this year as follows:
|Race||Point for Fastest Lap winner|
|Great Britain||Lewis Hamilton|
But has the competition for the extra point made the races more entertaining?
It took a few races for teams to wake up to the importance of not leaving the extra point on the table. At race three Red Bull became the first to perform a late stop for new tyres to gain an extra point for Gasly. Ferrari followed suit with Leclerc at the next race and even Mercedes got over their initial reservations about the tactic, bringing Bottas in for fresh rubber in Canada.
The pursuit of the extra point has also added interest on-track. In Germany Vettel nearly lost second place to Daniil Kvyat on the final lap when he went off while trying to set the fastest lap time.
At best, the bonus point for fastest lap has done little more than provoke a few extra pit stops at the end of the race. More often than not it’s had no effect on the race at all: the winner has simply reeled off a quick one on the penultimate lap to score 26 points instead of 25.
More to the point, is anyone really excited by the prospect of a few extra pit stops per race? That point for fastest lap has made a difference is not in doubt, but the difference made hasn’t been significant or positive in terms of the action which happens on track. Or merited: It’s often been scored by whoever was running last of the front-running drivers.
My problem with the point for fastest lap comes from watching championship deciders which have been spoiled by it. Such as the dismal spectacle of Formula E’s 2015 championship finale, where Sebastien Buemi had to abandon any pretence of racing so he could score the vital bonus point. Or Hamilton winning the 2006 GP2 title due to a stewards’ decision on a yellow flag several hours after a race.
These examples are few and far between. But I fear for the ridicule F1 would face by ruining something as significant as a championship decider by something as trivial an unrelated to true racing as giving an extra point for setting the fastest lap.
It’s a distraction from racing. I don’t want to see teams pulling their drivers out of fights for position at the end of races to make an extra pit stop, I want them out on the track fighting for position until the bitter end. For me the bonus point has added nothing.
Has the bonus point for fastest lap made this year’s races more exciting? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments:
Has the bonus point for fastest lap made the first 12 races of 2019 more exciting?
- Strongly agree (7%)
- Slightly agree (29%)
- Neither agree nor disagree (14%)
- Slightly disagree (16%)
- Strongly disagree (33%)
- No opinion (1%)
Total Voters: 284
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