During the Formula 3 British Grand Prix, the commentators had a discussion about the scoring system that is currently used in the FIA Formula 3 Championship, which supports the Formula 1 series.
They were discussing how in a thirty car field that offering points to only the top ten finishers was perhaps not the best and that points should potentially be extended, like in MotoGP, down to fifteenth place.Embed from Getty Images
To add to this debate they also talked about the current competitiveness of the three Prema Racing drivers within the series, creating a Formula 1 lite type problem of effectively ‘locking out’ three of the available point scoring places.
The current points system
The current system that is used in the championship consists of points for feature race pole position, the top ten in the feature race score points as well as points being given to the driver who achieves the fastest lap. In the sprint race, there are no points for pole position due to there being a reversed grid, only the top eight score points but there is still points for fastest lap.
Like Formula 1, the fastest lap points are only awarded if the driver has finished in the top ten.
Other series on the FIA ladder
The system used in Formula 3 is the same that is used in FIA Formula 2 and with the FIA wishing to establish a clear ladder for drivers to go up in their pursuit of landing a Formula 1 drive, it makes sense that Formula 3 adopts the same system as Formula 2.
Although adopting Formula 2’s system doesn’t mean it is perfect for Formula 3 considering that Formula 2 has a twenty car grid compared to the slightly bigger grid of Formula 3.
The grid size is one of the main discussion points about Formula 3’s system as if it was a twenty car grid, there would be little to no debate. However it is not uncommon for racing series to increase the number of point scoring places when a grid begins to get bigger. You only need to look at Formula 1 which increased to a top ten system in 2010 when it welcomed three new teams onto the grid, increasing the grid to twenty four cars, having previously moved from a top six to top eight system in 2003.Embed from Getty Images
Despite Formula 1’s grid size having reduced to twenty cars, there hasn’t been felt any need to go back to a top eight or top six system.
The art of the point scoring system
Currently, excluding points given for pole position and fastest lap, thirty three percent of the Formula 3 grid can score points, if you take the ten places available in the feature race. This percentage can increase with the pole position points and including the eight places available during the sprint race.
By comparison, fifty percent of the current Formula 1 grid are able to score points during a race weekend, while in MotoGP its approximately sixty eight percent of the grid, excluding wildcard riders. To add to this comparison, over in the Japanese Super Formula they award forty percent of the grid points during a race weekend, although this does exclude the points available for claiming pole position.
This percentage is important as it was one of the reasons why Formula 1 went from a top six system to adopting a top eight system in 2003. It can also help guide as to whether the current points system in a series is either too generous or too stringent. Imagine if Formula 1 had a top six scoring system in the current Class A/Class B era championship it has had from 2017 to this season.
The point of Formula 3
Which percentage sounds too much or too little is a matter of opinion and therefore a better way of determining whether the current system is suitable for Formula 3 is by keeping in mind what the point of the championship is. Considering it is to help drivers learn their craft as well as hopefully grab the attention of teams in other series to further and consolidate their racing career, it would make sense for the championship to move towards awarding points to all competitors.Embed from Getty Images
This idea opens up all sorts of technicalities that would need to be sorted out considering that Formula 3 holds two races over a weekend, not one, and has a reverse grid element to its championship, not to forget the points for pole position and fastest lap. Would these features be carried over or could the championship move towards a fully reversed grid for the sprint race with no points for pole position or fastest lap.
Awarding points to all drivers would help those further down the grid receive a little more attention as it is more visible to see when they have had a particularly strong weekend. To apply this to a premier racing series, it would be like allowing all cars in Formula 1 to score points therefore helping to better illustrate which of the two Williams drivers of George Russell and Robert Kubica are having the better season. To extend this example, it would also make the Formula 1 midfield battle even more intense and fluid.
The FIA Formula 3 Championship may be confined to European circuits and may not garner a lot of attention, but the debate about its point scoring system is an interesting one and something that every sport, let alone racing series, has to consider from time to time in order to make sure it still works for the sport and whether it requires changing.Embed from Getty Images