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New double points rule 'a novelty,' says former F1 star

By Sarah Holt, for CNN
updated 2:03 PM EST, Tue December 10, 2013
  • Formula One drivers and teams can win double points at 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
  • Ex-racer John Watson says new ruling is a novelty which will only benefit big teams
  • World champion Sebastian Vettel describes new rule as "absurd"
  • Double points are one of several changes announced by governing body the FIA

Click the flashing points on the interactive above to find out more about F1's technical rule changes.

(CNN) -- Formula One drivers will get two points for the price of one at the final race of 2014 under new rules announced Monday.

The victorious driver in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will now win 50 points compared to 25 points for each of the other 18 races.

But former F1 race winner John Watson fears the idea of dishing out double points at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is nothing more than a gimmick designed to manufacture a false climax to the season.

"This is a mechanism to try and alleviate the championship being won before the final round," Watson, who ended his F1 career with the McLaren team, told CNN.

"If someone is second and close to the race leader and there is a chance to overtake and eventually win the championship, that's what they're trying to achieve.

"The one thing that F1 does not need is the championship being won two or more races out.

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"That just doesn't do F1, its audience and the people who are investing in that audience any good whatsoever.

"In 2012, when there were seven drivers winning the first races, the public enjoyed that and that's what they want to see.

"As much as they admire Red Bull and Vettel, it was entertaining motor racing and the early 2012 model (of competition) is what F1 should be trying to achieve.

"But all double points would have done in 2013 is to guarantee more points for Red Bull because they had already won the championship.

"The doubles point is a novelty more than anything else. The teams that are the most successful that season will benefit from it most.

"I might be proved wrong but it seems to me that this isn't a meaningful change.

"I think that's it's something done in haste in response to what we've seen this year."

Read: Formula One's 2014 rule changes explained

Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel powered to the last four F1 world championships and in 2011 and 2013, the German driver wrapped up the titles with races to spare.

In contrast, Vettel edged the 2010 and 2012 titles at the final race of the season and if the double points had been on offer in 2012 Ferrari's Fernando Alonso would have nicked the crown.

But even the man who survived those nail-biting contests appears to be skeptical about plans to change the points system.

German magazine Sport Bild confirmed to CNN that the four-time world champion had described the rule change in a telephone conversation to them as "absurd" and it would "punish those who have worked hard for a whole season."

The FIA explained the rule changes in a statement which read: "Double drivers' and constructors' points will be awarded at the final race of the Formula One season in order to maximize focus on the championship until the end of the campaign."

Double your money?

End-of-season performance determines how F1's prize money is roughly divvied up between the teams.

Each marque gets a share of the prize pot in relation to where it finished in the championship.

Watson predicts that the new double points ruling could also have a negative impact on how this revenue is split.

"The problem is by the time you get to the end of the season the majority of the teams are bust," Watson continued. "So, this is only going to play into the hands of the stronger teams.

"The days of a development push coming from anybody but the top three or four teams are gone.

"The teams with financial strength will no doubt get the funding to consolidate their positions.

"To me everything is virtually against the field at large with this regulation change.

"What remains to be seen is whether the FIA or (F1 chief executive) Bernie (Ecclestone) pay double for the final race."

Read: Formula One car guru predicts spicy 2014 season

A number of other rule changes came out of this week's FIA's World Motor Sport Council meeting in Paris.

The sport's governing body renewed its plans to curb teams spending by announcing a global cost cap from January 2015. It did not, however, state what figure teams' spending would be capped at.

Meanwhile, drivers will have to get their thinking caps on as, from 2014, they will be asked to choose a race number between two and 99 to use for the rest of their careers.

No. 1 will be reserved for the reigning world champion and if more than one driver chooses the same number then priority will be given to the driver finishing higher in the previous world championship.

Lotus racer Romain Grosjean has already asked his followers on Twitter to help him choose a number.

The FIA also revealed that six teams -- Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren, Force India and Toro Rosso -- have agreed to take part in a three-day tire test in Bahrain next week.

F1 tire supplier Pirelli and Mercedes got into hot water earlier this year for taking part in a unsanctioned tire test.

This month's tire test will be the first preparation for the major technical rule change that will reconfigure F1 in 2014 -- but the new points change in the final race could determine which team ends up winning the championship.

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