F1’s big decision: Should the F1 points system change to include the top 12?

Sam Cooper

F1 will reportedly discuss changes to the points system this week but what do our writers think of the proposed move?

Since 2010, drivers have received points for finishing within the top 10 and from 2019, an extra point has been given out for the fastest lap. That could change in the near future though…

What is the current F1 points system?

When F1 first debuted in 1950, scoring points was reserved for the first five drivers only with the winner getting eight and fifth place scoring two.

In 1960, an extra point was given to sixth before 2003 saw the points given all the way down to eighth.

But the biggest overhaul came in 2010 when not only were more places rewarded but the number of points also massively increased.

First place went from being worth 10 points to 25 while finishing sixth in the current era will score you the same points as winning a race in 1950 would have done.

It is this reason, along with more races per season, why the top eight drivers in the all-time top points scorers list have all driven within the last 10 years.

Michael Schumacher meanwhile, despite his seven world titles, is ninth behind the likes of Sergio Perez and Valtteri Bottas.

What are the proposed F1 points system changes?

According to reports, Formula 1 bosses will meet this week to discuss a further alteration to the points system which will benefit the smaller teams on the grid.

The suggestion is for the top 12 to receive points with P12 getting one point, P11 getting two and P10 getting three. They would also be eligible for the fastest lap point.

The top seven places would remain unchanged in terms of the points scoring.

Why would they change it?

As to why they would change it, that likely comes from pressure from smaller teams who are lucky to fight for a single point as it stands.

If both drivers from Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes and Aston Martin finish, there is a good chance they will occupy all 10 points-paying spots so even if P11 is miles ahead of P20, they will both come away with nothing.

The new rules would reward those at the top end of the midfield and create more competition further down the grid.

Our verdict

Sam Cooper: Of the 546 points so far handed out this season, just 2% have been given to teams other than Red Bull, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Mercedes and McLaren.

It is Aston Martin’s ascension to one of the top five teams on the grid that has seemingly caused this log jam, meaning despite Haas being a step ahead of Stake, they only have five more points to show for it.

For that reason, I think extending the points to 12th would be a smart idea if only to make the bottom half more exciting. As it stands now, a lucky result can have a huge impact on a team’s season and it would make more sense for the teams consistently in P11 and P12 to be rewarded over the ones finishing dead last every week.

I would however draw a line at 12 and do not believe points should be given for everyone who finishes. In the modern era of reliability, just finishing a race is not as big of an achievement as it was decades ago.

Henry Valantine: I’m minded to think of the last revamp in the points system in the mid-2000s, at the height of Michael Schumacher’s dominance, which not only increased the points paid out to the top eight instead of the top six, but also decreased the points difference between first and second places from four to two.

I wonder if Formula 1 might be tempted to do something similar at the top end as well, if only to make Max Verstappen’s dominance at the front look less, for want of a better word, complete? The margin with which he won each of his last two titles has not been a good reflection on the sport as a whole, when it arguably hasn’t been in ruder health in terms of the closeness of the rest of the field.

Gone are the days of cars finishing multiple laps down, and I think expanding points to P12 would do no harm – even more so if there is an 11th team on the grid eventually…

Having run the numbers, the reported system would pay out an extra eight points per race and, at the current pay-by-point rate of entry fees for the teams, it would also net the FIA an extra $1.26m in annual income if the system did change to this.

So, the midfield teams would have more to fight for, the governing body would benefit and fans would see more consequential racing further down the pack. I’m yet to see a down side.

Michelle Foster: Nope, leave it as the top ten. I mean really, if you make it top 12 then next is top 14, then 16 and before you know it Formula 1 is awarding a point to anyone and everyone who finishes a Grand Prix – even Logan Sargeant!

Formula 1 is supposed to be the pinnacle of motorsport, no team or driver should ever score a point just before turning up on a Sunday but if the sport starts giving points for the top 12, it will in time trickle down to an Oprah situation of “you get a point, you get a point, everyone gets a point!”

The reason for that is the teams wanting F1 to change the system, ie those fighting for the minor points, claim that if they can score a point or three then fans will know where they are in the pecking order in the championship instead of having three teams, as we have today, on zero points. But then it could come down to P13s separating the teams near the bottom of the standings, maybe even P14s, so why not give points for those?

F1 fans are not stupid, they know a P11 puts a team ahead of another rival. Williams being ahead of Alpine is still worth fighting in a Grand Prix as that means more prize money for the team at the end of the season. F1 does not need to dumb it down.

Jamie Woodhouse: With Formula 1 insistent on a 10-team, 20-driver grid remaining, points for the top 10 feels neat compared to a top 12. But more importantly, extending the points-paying positions would almost be an admittance of defeat on the key objective of a tighter pack full of overtaking.

That was the whole point of the budget cap and new regulations introduced in 2022, to bring the teams closer together and create real variety in the pecking order from race to race. Progress was being made, but 2024 has created this almost two-tier championship, and now there is seemingly pressure from those in the bottom-half to change the rules on points scoring…

I really do not think it would be a good look for F1 to appear like they are extending the points-scoring positions in reaction to this group of teams struggling in what had been billed as the era of unprecedented opportunity. Surely it is on them to do better, not for F1 to move the goalposts? I say leave the points system as it is.

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