(Please note strong language in paragraph two.)
By Alan Baldwin
JEREZ, Spain (Reuters) - Formula One may have to ‘revisit’ a controversial rule change awarding double points for the final race of the season because of the backlash from fans, according to Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff.
“I think obviously the shitstorm we got afterwards was something which was not expected,” the Austrian told reporters at pre-season testing in southern Spain when asked about the decision.
”We discussed it up and down and the reason (for the decision) was that for the last years we have seen the dominance of a driver and team and the (television) audiences were not as expected.
“Was it the right move or not? Ninety nine percent of our fans and spectators, and this is what counts, told us it was the wrong move. So perhaps it is something to revisit.”
Social media has been abuzz with opposition to what many see as a needless gimmick ever since the sport’s rulers announced the change in December as a means of keeping the title battle open for longer.
Red Bull have won four drivers’ and constructors’ titles in a row, with Sebastian Vettel wrapping up his fourth straight championship with three races to spare last year.
Vettel has called the rule change ‘absurd’, Caterham team owner Tony Fernandes dubbed it a ‘fake fix’ and Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemolo finds it too artificial for his liking.
However, a meeting of Formula One’s strategy group in Switzerland this month failed to overturn it and the change remains in the 2014 regulations.
”We decided to keep it for the moment,“ said Wolff. ”There are discussions ongoing.
“There are some arguments (in favor),” added the Austrian, whose team finished runners-up last year and could dethrone Red Bull this season if their new V6 power unit proves to be the pick of the field.
“If for whatever reason we have the same kind of power situation with one of the teams, you add a little spice towards the end of the season,” said Wolff.
“Things need to be done, and when you see TV audiences generally dropping then you need to try out things. This maybe wasn’t the right thing, but maybe we need to find out.”
Red Bull principal Christian Horner said the fans had to be listened to.
“I don’t think that it’s any secret that I wasn’t particularly in favor of it (double points),” he added.
”I can understand why the governing body and the promoter are keen to keep the championship alive, or hope in the championship alive, until the last race but two out of the last four years it’s gone to the last race under the previous points scoring system.
“It would probably be better... to look at three races to take away an element of lottery over that last race.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris