Why F1 may change its points system, Lance Stroll v. Daniel Ricciardo: Prime Tire

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Welcome back to Prime Tire, where we’re wondering what any of the words mean in this F1 Instagram post about Daniel Ricciardo playing basketball. Am I old now? Don’t answer that.

Anyway, we’ve got some things to settle from the Chinese Grand Prix. I’m Patrick, and Luke Smith will be along shortly. Let’s dive in.

F1 blame court

Before Max Verstappen pulled away for another dominant win at the Chinese GP, an early safety car bunched up the field and created a pretty heated moment between Daniel Ricciardo and Lance Stroll. It’s time to settle this in F1 Blame Court™️. Let’s convene the jury, which consists of me. I am also the judge.

Plaintiff: Daniel Joseph “Honey Badger” Ricciardo (RB)

Defendant: Lance “The Interrupter” Stroll (Aston Martin)

The IncidentAs the pack approached the restart into the hairpin, the cars bunched up and slowed down right before Verstappen took off at the front. The concertina effect sent Stroll hard into the back of Ricciardo.

What The Plaintiff Said: “It’s a restart, you know, so we don’t know what the leader is going to do,” Ricciardo told Sky Sports. “So you have to be as kind of vigilant as ever. And yeah, just be prepared for any situation.

“I could see it was obviously bunching up into the hairpin, so everyone is backing up. But then obviously how hard he’s hit me, and pretty much put half his car under mine, it wasn’t a small lack of judgement. He was miles off. So yeah, for that for me, it’s not an excuse … I don’t know why he’s not looking at the car in front, unless his eyes are doing something funny.”

Lance Stroll Daniel Ricciardo collision Chinese GP 2024

What The Defendant Said: “Someone braked in front and I think it was like everyone kinda braked,” Stroll told F1TV. “The car in front of me just stopped right in front of me, I had nowhere to go. It was just one of those really weird racing incidents.”

What The Stewards Said“We determined that Car 18 (Stroll) ought to have anticipated the pace of the cars in front, particularly Car 3 (Ricciardo) and should have prepared to brake accordingly. Had it done that, it would have avoided the collision.”

Prime Tire Verdict: Ricciardo and the stewards are right – Stroll was at fault. When you’re in the middle of a stack-up like that, still under the safety car heading into a restart, it’s imperative that you pay attention to the car in front of you. Instead, you can see Stroll was looking at the apex of the corner heading into the turn. By the time he looks back and brakes, he’s already rolling into the back of the RB. It was an attention lapse that cost both drivers their race.

He’d be found at fault if this happened in a drive-thru at Tim Horton’s. Guilty. *gavel sound* Court adjourned.

Was the Chinese GP a good race?

It’s that time again – I want to hear what my lovely subscribers thought about the Chinese GP. I’m also curious when you watched it. You don’t get any bonus points for staying up all night to watch it live, since this isn’t a competition and I don’t like arbitrary points systems (lol you know I do) but you do have my respect.

Follow this link to weigh in on the race! I’ll share results and responses on Friday.

Inside the paddock with Luke Smith: F1 mulls a points expansion

One story coming out of the China weekend was a possible change to F1’s points system from 2025, which could extend to the top 12 instead of the top 10. The motion has been brought forward by the teams, with those towards the back of the grid, understandably, being very much in favor. It’s set to be discussed on Thursday at the next F1 Commission meeting (the regular summit between the 10 teams, F1 and the FIA), and would need to be voted through to become the new rules from next year.

The proposal would only change the points from P8 to P12. Currently, the payout is 4-2-1 for P8 to P10, and nothing for P11 and P12. The teams pushing for change want it to become 5-4-3-2-1 for P8 through P12. It would mean there’s more to play for in the backfield, ensuring over half the grid comes away with points from each race. It’d also give a small financial boost to the FIA, given each driver and team sees their entry fee increase for every point they pick up.

Such a change would be the latest in a long line of evolutions for F1 points system. Until 2003, only the top six scored points, then the top eight until 2010, when the current system of points for the top 10 and 25 for the winner was adopted. If there is a desire to make the battle for each position count, might F1 someday consider a more radical shake-up and go to an IndyCar-style system, where every single driver scores points? Maybe it’s a step too far, particularly given how much it would skew historical statistics. Won’t somebody please think of the record books? Nevertheless, we could be about to get another step toward points for all, and making those top-10 fringe battles a whole lot more valuable.

Toto Wolff talking on a cell phone


Toto Wolff is on the hunt for a new F1 driver. (Clive Rose/Getty Images)

What is Toto Wolff up to?

It makes zero sense that Verstappen would want to leave Red Bull. Right? Look at what he’s done over the last almost 50 races – unparalleled dominance. If he stays with Red Bull, chances are good he retires as the greatest F1 driver of all time. And yet, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff keeps bringing up the big “What If?” What if driving in the fastest car isn’t enough to keep Verstappen at Red Bull?

It’s not the first time Wolff has brought up the idea of Verstappen leaving Red Bull and sending a shockwave through the driver’s market, which is drying up faster than Wolff probably expected after Alonso re-signed with Aston Martin recently. Wolff needs a replacement for Hamilton in 2025 when he leaves for Ferrari.

But why does Wolff keep poking the Red Bull bear with these Verstappen comments? Luke dove into the situation today – give it a read here.

Outside the points

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our post-race takeaways from the Chinese GP. Madeline has a good breakdown in there of McLaren’s surprising weekend in Shanghai.

Finally, if you missed it last weekend, 2023 F2 champion Theo Pourchaire stepped in for injured Arrow McLaren driver David Malukas at the IndyCar race in Long Beach. And what a drive! The Frenchman started P22 and finished P11 – good enough to get the drive again for McLaren this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park.

(Lead photo of the Chinese GP: Hector RETAMAL / AFP)

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