PARIS (AP) — Formula One will award double points for the last race of the season from next year, making it more likely that the title fight goes down to the wire, while drivers will be given permanent numbers as part of a series of rule changes announced on Monday.
Governing body FIA said in a statement that doubling the points for drivers and teams in the last race on the calendar will "maximize focus on the Championship until the end of the campaign." This year's finale in Brazil was a bit of an anti-climax as Sebastian Vettel locked up his fourth straight driver's title with three races to go.
Next year, a win at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be worth 50 points instead of the normal 25, making it less likely that the title will already be decided. Drivers will also be allowed to choose a number to put on their cars for their entire career, unlike the current system where last year's team placings determine the numbers. The reigning champion will still be given No. 1.
The FIA said drivers will be able to pick any number between 2 and 99. If several drivers want the same number, it goes to the one who had the highest finish the previous season. The defending champion can choose whether to use No. 1 or his permanent number.
Other changes approved unanimously Monday at a meeting of the F1 Strategy Group and Formula One Commission in Paris included a cost cap for teams that will be introduced from 2015, and new five-second penalties for minor infringements during races.
A cost cap has long been discussed in F1 to make the sport more affordable, although teams have been at odds for how it should be implemented. The FIA said "the principle of a global cost cap" has now been adopted, but that the specifics will be worked out by June 2014.