Virgin On The Ridiculous

I read this story on Autosport about Virgin Technical Director, Nick Wirth, still believing that the team need to be targeting tenth place in the Constructors’ Championship (it really is that quiet a news-week), and it reminded me of my view that the points system for constructors is fine for establishing the top positions, but is increasingly inequitable for judging the performance-order further down the field. For the new teams, it is most unlikely any will score a point this season, in which case the order they finish in will not be decided by how they perform comparatively across the season, but by countback, such that whichever new team has the highest-placed driver at the Grand Prix of the highest attrition-rate amongst the established teams will thus win tenth-place in the Constructors’. At present, Lotus lead with Kovalainen’s thirteenth-place in Australia, HRT are second with two fourteenth-places for Chandhok in Australia and Monaco, with Virgin last with only one fourteenth-place for di Grassi in Malaysia. Since the finishing-rate tends to increase during the season as teams sort out earlier gremlins, chances are that Heikki’s somewhat fortuitous 13th at Melbourne will guarantee us the displeasure of seeing Richard Branson in his Air Asia air-hostess uniform with a massive grin on his face that would win a gurning contest, imprinting images on our retinas that will make us wish our memories had a selective delete option.

Although in this aspect, increasing the points-scoring positions to ten is an improvement, even below fourth or fifth place in the Constructors’, how well a team does can be skewed by being fortunate enough to get their act together in a mixed-up safety-car effected race and/or races in which more than the usual number of front-runners have issues. A lot of television-money, other rewards, and status rely on this order of success.

Especially for the teams outside the points, maybe also for lower-order points-scoring teams at least in respect to prize-money, pit-lane order, and flyaway travel-allowances, I believe there is an argument for excluding the finishes of higher ranked teams and re-calculating the points. It could be done by excluding the winning team and re-calculating for the rest et cetera down the order, but that seems too finicky (and would take too long for me to work out). My proposal is the top-five teams be taken as given by the current system, then exclude those and recalculate the next five, with this order counting for financial, travel and pit-lane order advantages, and then do the same for the remaining teams with this counting to finishing order in the Constructors’ Cup for any team without points (or perhaps even one points-finish or less).

Anyway, that would give the current top-five as Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault. Working out the next five would give this.

1   Force India   322
2   Williams   287
3   STR   223
4   Sauber   170
5   Lotus   76
6   HRT   52
7   Virgin   32

The big difference here is that STR are ahead of BMW Sauber, and with good reason. Toro Rosso have been doing a stronger job than Sauber most the season, but although the Swiss team maybe deserved the good finish for Kobayashi in Valencia, they lucked into high positions in Britain and Hungary because the top-five teams had a lot of problems between them. In twelve races, STR have managed 18 finishes to Sauber’s eleven, had the higher finish over Sauber seven-races-to-five, beating both Saubers with both cars four times, which Sauber have done to STR three times.

This leaves two teams.

1   HRT   277
2   Virgin   259

This system puts Lotus, HRT and Virgin in the same order, but I believe by a much fairer way. Under this approach, Virgin have been gaining steadily on HRT in recent races, being faster and having improved reliability, with every chance of beating HRT by the end of the season. Under the countback system, they may well end up thirteenth behind HRT with what objectively will be a stronger season, if Virgin Racing can not manage to get a 14th or higher overall position in the remaining races, or may end up tenth over the better performing Lotus because in just one race they win the new-team battle and fluke a twelfth place. Surely it is ridiculous to have this rest on which team gets the luckiest single result?

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One Response to “Virgin On The Ridiculous”

  1. jackie Says:

    It does seem highly unfair that one fluke result could be worth millions and yet a reasonable performance throughout the year counts for nothing. Any system that rewards consistency must be fairer.

    Bernie should really pay a television fee for all the teams, after all if they were not around there would be less for us to enjoy… why should they pay to race and receive no reward, F1 is not a charity and these payments to teams further down the grid could make all the difference to whether they can afford to compete the following year.

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