Dorna Must Resist The Urge
by staff
Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The ruling robber barons of Formula One shocked fans and competitors of the self-proclaimed "pinnacle of motorsport" Tuesday by announcing numerous changes to the rules for the 2014, with the most prominent the addition of double points for drivers and teams at the season-ending race at Abu Dhabi.

Call it the Sebastian Vettel Rule. The German has won four consecutive World Championships, and it's clear Bernie Ecclestone and his minions think Young Seb is stinking up the show.

Problem is, double points in the final race are a gimmick that don't reward consistent excellence throughout the season and turn the finale into too much of a lottery. Fans and drivers, including Vettel, wasted no time shredding the double-points rule in traditional and social media.

In several ways Dorna has followed F1 in terms of procedures and practices. While there is no indication that Dorna will follow F1 down the double points path, there are fears this is being considered.

So even though MotoGP hasn't changed its point system since 1993, there's no need for Grand Prix motorcycle racing to follow this foolish trend toward "ginning up" season-long points races with parlor tricks such as double points or "showdowns" or "chases."

The winner of the World Championship should be the rider who was the most consistent and dominant for the entire calendar, not just one or a few races. Period.

Critics always will counter that many North American pro and college stick-and-ball sports and NASCAR use postseason tournaments or playoffs to decide season champions.

Well, guess what kids? Grand Prix motorcycle racing ain't baseball. And thank God for that.

Soccer remains the world's most popular sport, and none of the top-flight European domestic leagues use playoffs to determine title winners. The team that accrues the most points during the season is champion. And in the World Cup, the winner of the final game in the group stages receives the same number of points as the winner in the first two group-stage games.

Simplicity works. Were MotoGP fans not entertained by the title battle this season between Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo, settled by just four points? Did anyone consider Marquez an unworthy champion? Would it have been a bit unsavory to anyone that Marquez would have lost the title by five points to Lorenzo if double points were awarded at Valencia?

There's incredible hypocrisy in F1's decision to award double points in its season finale. Formula One Management - the commercial arm of the sport, run by Ecclestone - strains every fiber of its being to ensure that all aspects of every Grand Prix are homogenized and identical in every country the championship visits.

Manuals the width of an old Funk and Wagnalls encyclopedia volume are sent to every department of facilities that host F1 races, with explicit instructions to follow about every aspect of staging the event. The FOM manual even includes at what temperature the media center must be maintained - to the exact degree. No joke. Dorna exerts almost nearly as much control over MotoGP races.

So how does Abu Dhabi get elevated in importance over other F1 races, especially the series' crown jewel and high-glitz showcase at Monaco?

Should MotoGP ordain Valencia as more important than Assen or Mugello? Of course not.

Some years one rider dominates and coasts to the championship in a brilliant meteor shower. Other years feature a barroom brawl title race decided at the finale, such as this season or the 2006 battle between Nick Hayden and Valentino Rossi.

The Moto3 championship race came down to the final corner among three riders this season, without the adult diapers of double points or a "chase." But Pol Espargaro wrapped up the Moto2 title with a race to spare.

That's life. But no one can say the current points system produces an unworthy champion based on the merits of a season, not just one weekend.

Dorna and the FIM must resist becoming the latest domino to fall in this trend of artificial competition in global motor racing. Watching guys hang off prototype motorcycles at 210 mph with no roll cage or seat belt is the ultimate form of motorsport on the planet. It needs no confetti or "LOOK AT ME!" neon.

MotoGP's point system is just fine as is. Leave it alone.


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