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Why double-points finales don't work in motorsport

The Indianapolis 500 is back. (Image: Creative Commons)
Expert
2nd September, 2015
4

The 2015 IndyCar season ended in dramatic fashion last weekend with New Zealand’s Scott Dixon claiming the race win and championship, jumping the season-long points leader Juan Pablo Montoya.

With double points on offer at the Sonoma Raceway finale, Dixon’s win relative to Montoya’s sixth place left the veterans equal on points. Dixon, therefore, won the title on a count back, with three race wins compared to Montoya’s two.

“Dixon had a s**t season all year and had one good race, and we paid the penalty,” fumed Montoya following the race.

“We’ll see if they [IndyCar] change it, but they like the excitement for the last race.

“Is it fair? No, but we go into the last race of the year knowing it’s a double‑points race.

“Is it fair for a normal championship? No, it’s not fair, but it’s the rules they want to play with, and if you don’t like the rules, don’t race.

“It sucks, but when you make the last race double-points on a road course and you change the tyre and you do everything you did for this weekend and you put so many variables, it doesn’t even matter what you do all year.”

The irony of Montoya’s tirade is the fact that he collected double points for victory at the Indy 500. However, taking out the double points races all together, Montoya would have won the championship by four points.

Double points for some races creates a distortion in the championship season and, as witnessed, can result in results that can be questioned.

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For a championship to maintain its integrity all races must carry the same worth in terms of points. After all, why should one race carry double the points of another simply because it’s hosting the final event of the season?

Formula One, thankfully, did away with its double-points finale after last season. The gimmick designed to keep the championship battle alive until the final race of the season didn’t result in a change to the title winner.

The double points proved unpopular with most inside the sport not to mention among fans, though it did change a number of minor placings and distorted the championship tally.

The Williams team, for example, claimed a huge haul off 66 points from a second and third placing at the Abu Dhabi double-points finale last season. Consider that a one-two finish at a more prestigious grand prix like Monaco would only have netted 43 points.

Therein lies the stupidity of double points. Why should some races count for so much more than others? IndyCar didn’t need the double-point gimmick to ensure the championship battle went down to the final race, so hopefully it follows Formula One’s example and does away with the rule next season.