Double points not all bad, says Andretti

Sat Nov 1, 2014 12:00pm EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

AUSTIN Texas (Reuters) - Awarding double points for the final race of the Formula One season is a gimmick but one that American fans may understand more than most, according to the country's last world champion Mario Andretti.

With an unprecedented 50 points available to the winner in Abu Dhabi on Nov. 23, the title battle between Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg looks set to go down to the wire with possibly a shock outcome.

It could be that 2008 champion Hamilton ends the season with 11 wins (currently nine) to Rosberg's five (four at present) but still walks away without the second crown he covets.

Andretti, the 1978 champion with Lotus, shrugged at the possibility.

"(American fans) are probably the only ones that can understand that because of NASCAR," the 74-year-old told Reuters at the U.S. Grand Prix, the 17th of the season's 19 races.

"You talk about gimmicks and look at the way the NASCAR championship is going," he smiled. "It's almost ridiculous."

NASCAR has changed its Chase format this year from 10 rounds to decide the title to a series of three-race groupings with four drivers eliminated from contention after each and the points reset.

The final four drivers will then fight it out for the title at Miami's Homestead track on Nov. 16 with the highest finisher winning.   Continued...

Red Bull Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany (L) talks to racing legend Mario Andretti after winning the U.S. F1 Grand Prix final at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas November 17, 2013.    REUTERS/Adrees Latif