Don’t like ‘double points’? Turn your TV off

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Apparently we’re not alone in our concern over Formula 1’s double-points nonsense for the final race in the 2014 season at Abu Dhabi. Messrs. Hope-Frost and Straw at AUTOSPORT caught up with Red Bull chief technical officer Adrian Newey and he said:

“It’s a personal view, but I’m not a fan of it at all,” Newey told AUTOSPORT.

“To me it just seems very artificial that third place [in Abu Dhabi] will now be worth more than first place at Monaco or another race.”

Now, that may be his opinion but it most likely is the opinion of a majority of F1 fans that have sounded off with their dislike of the concept. The rule was approved but even F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone says he intended it to be the final three or four races, not just the last race.

What I found interesting in the this article is the final comment when Newey spoke of the likelihood of the rule being jettisoned prior to the final race:

“Whether it gets changed for subsequent seasons or not is going to depend on public opinion post the end of the season.

“If, of course, viewing figures are much higher and people aren’t turning off in protest then it will be deemed a success and will continue.”

It’s an interesting metric to suggest that TV viewership is the litmus test as to if this rule will be continued into 2015. It anchors F1 fan loyalty as a measure of regulation support and I’m not sure that’s a very good measuring stick to be honest.

F1’s golden goose is TV broadcast rights and viewers—has been since Ecclestone purchased the commercial rights. Little wonder that they would be myopic in their sense of measurement suggesting that immediate viewer numbers would be a stamp of approval or disapproval and determine the future of the regulation change. How many dodgy regulation changes has the sport had and yet loyal fans still watch the series?

In short, a bad rule is perpetuated because viewer numbers remain strong regardless if it’s a bad rule or not. If it were a horrible rule, surely viewers would turn the TV off right? Or would they? I’m no fan of DRS—in fact I loathe it—but I’ve been watching F1 since 1972 and I still remain loyal to the series and love its DNA.

It’s is an odd position given the fan voice was headed to bring DRS into the series because they asked fans what they wanted and some said “more passing”.

As a fan, I’m not sure it is quite fair to place us in this position of having to stop watching a sport in order to show approval or disapproval for a regulation or direction the sport is going. Surely F1 has a better way of measuring its fan base?

Social media is by no means empirical evidence but it can provide information and usually emotional sentiment. In fact, it’s a very emotionally driven form of communication—a shame they couldn’t devise a way to make it impactful at the checkout aisle for emotional purchases—give them time, that’s coming.

I’d like to think that F1 can look beyond pandering and pretense and recognize fan sentiment, fan loyalty, fan approval, fan frustration and understand the difference between them—at least without waiting to see if TV viewership spikes or drops. There are too many factors involved viewer numbers such as 2013’s 50 million drop in viewing numbers due to national versus local broadcast formats in China and France.

What do you think? Should F1 wake up to the empathy that exists in the current sales model and learn to look beyond simple TV metrics in order to pat themselves on the back or kick themselves in the arse?

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