Formula One won’t just look different in team names and aerodynamic rules this year, although we’ve had time to accept those changes by now. It may also look different in terms of points, because reports are that for the first time in decades, F1 is set to reward the driver with the fastest lap in each race this year.
That reward will come in the form of an extra championship point for the driver who logs the fastest lap, the BBC reports.
It’ll be the first time F1 has passed out a point for fastest lap since 1959, the story said, but there are a few catches.
The new rule isn’t confirmed yet despite the new season starting in Australia next weekend, since both the BBC and Motorsport.com report that it still needs additional votes before being officially added into the sporting regulations—even if its confirmation is likely.
The point will also only apply if the driver involved finishes in the top 10 in the race, Motorsport.com reports, to keep those “with nothing to lose” from pitting for fresh tires to give it a shot at the end. (Drivers outside of the top 10 have “nothing to lose” in a race because F1 only gives points to the top 10.)
Those extra points, when compounded across approximately 20 races, can have a title-altering effect on the F1 season. They can also make team orders either murkier or more powerful to carry out, given this hypothetical from the BBC:
Bosses accept there could be negatives to the idea - such as a championship being decided by a fastest-lap point, or a title contender’s team-mate, who is not in championship contention, setting a fastest lap to disadvantage a rival from another team.
The idea that a point for fast laps could throw off or make more complicated the eternal nuisance of team orders is a welcome one, since no one except the driver on the benefitting end has enjoyed or will ever enjoy watching that play ou—
But the feeling was that all teams and drivers would be aware of this issue and any of them could choose to take action.
—t. Well, that sliver of hope was killed before it even had a chance.
But no matter how it goes, if points for fastest laps do become a reality, at least F1 is trying to add some drama with more incentives and hopes of more passing. And, as with everything, trying is all we can really ask for.
Update, Monday, March 11 at 3:05 p.m. ET: F1 confirmed that it’s reintroducing a point for fastest lap on Monday, via an emailed press release. Like the reports said, the announcement confirmed that no point will be given out if the fastest lap is run by a driver who finishes outside of the top 10 in the race.