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To the point - a brief history of F1 scoring systems 12 Dec 2013

Scoring tower.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, United States Grand Prix, Race, Austin, Texas, USA, Sunday, 17 November 2013 Juan Manuel Fangio (ARG) Mercedes-Benz W196, fourth place, exiting Chapel Curve. British Grand Prix, Silverstone, England, 17 July 1954. Winner, Giancarlo Baghetti(ITA) Ferrari 156, leads 2nd place Dan Gurney(USA), Porsche 718 French GP, Reims, 2 July 1961. World ©  Phipps/Sutton Denny Hulme (NZL), McLaren M7A, won the race after starting from 6th on the grid. Canadian Grand Prix, Rd10, Mont-Tremblant, Canada. 22 September 1968. World © Phipps/Sutton Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari F2003-GA leads at the start.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Italian Grand Prix, Race Day, Monza, Italy, 14 September 2003 Race winner Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race Day, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, 3 November 2013

On Monday, Formula One racing’s governing body, the FIA, announced that from 2014 onwards teams and drivers will score double points at the final Grand Prix of the season (which next year takes place in Abu Dhabi).

Though this represents a significant change to the current system - with 50 points instead of 25 now available to the driver who wins the final race - it is by no means the only significant change to the F1 points scoring system over the years.

From the start of the world championship in 1950 up until 1959, points were awarded from first to fifth place in 8-6-4-3-2 format. There was also a point given to the driver who set fastest lap, though if several drivers set an identical time, the point was split equally. This led to a rather ridiculous situation at the 1954 British Grand Prix when a solitary point had to be split seven ways. Juan Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss, Jose Froilan Gonzalez, Mike Hawthorn, Jean Behra, Alberto Ascari and Onofre Marimon were each awarded 0.14 of a point! This bizarre event was avoided from 1960 onwards when the point for fastest lap was dropped.

It wasn’t until 1958 that a world championship for constructors was introduced. Two years later, in 1960, the number of point scorers per race was increased so that the first six drivers home were all rewarded. The system remained virtually unchanged for the next 43 years, albeit with the race winner’s haul upgraded to nine points (in 1961) and then to ten points (in 1991).

It’s also worth noting that it wasn’t until 1991 that every points finish counted toward the drivers’ championship (the constructors’ championship had taken account of all points finishes since 1979) - until then a pre-determined number of results counted meaning that drivers could afford one or two bad outings as they could ‘drop’ bad results. Confusingly, from 1967 onwards each driver’s end-of-season points total was made up of his best results from each ‘half’ of the season. For example, in 1968 there were 12 races, but only ten results counted towards the championship - a driver’s score was made up of his best five results from the first six races and his best five results from the second six.

In 2003 the points system was overhauled with points awarded down to eighth place in a 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 format. This system remained in place for seven seasons until it was changed again ahead of the 2010 championship, when points were awarded down to tenth place in the current 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 format.

In Abu Dhabi next season, in order to maximise focus on the championship until the end of the campaign, the top ten finishers will be awarded points in the following format: 50-36-30-24-20-16-12-8-4-2. If there wasn’t already, there is clearly now an additional incentive for teams to keep pushing until the very last metre of the season.

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