Recently, motorsport analyst and V8 Sleuth Aaron Noonan wrote a discussion piece about Bathurst, and whether or not it should be worth double points in the Supercars Championship. Given Noonz was recently married, we can forgive him for having more important activities in his life than working out what the results of recent championships would have been, with Bathurst given the extra weighting.
So, out of interest, I’ve done the calculations, doubling each driver’s points for Bathurst every season since 2008 when the current points system was introduced to the Supercars Championship.
You can look at the full spreadsheet here but in summary:
- Only one season would have resulted in a different champion – 2011, when Craig Lowndes would have beaten Jamie Whincup to the title.
- Some seasons would have had closer finishes, others would have been won by a greater margin.
- Last year, it would have been Fabian Coulthard rather than Scott McLaughlin who lost the title to Whincup in the last race of the season.
I’m actually not opposed to the idea of making Bathurst worth double the points of regular rounds, but I think the other endurance events should be worth more as well – maybe 1.5 times the points of regular rounds. So make the Sandown 500 and Gold Coast 600 worth 450 points for the winners, and Bathurst worth 600 points.
But there’s a broader issue at play here, something I felt the need to, ahem, point out. And that is the absurd array of points systems for motorsport categories in this country. In researching this article, I conducted a quick survey of Australian national series and discovered that almost every single one of them has a different points system.
Key differences included the spread of points for the major place-getters (some systems have a larger spread of points at the upper end of the field), how far down the field points are awarded, weighting of rounds, weighting of races within rounds, points awarded for qualifying, points awarded for fastest laps, dropping worst rounds, and on it goes.
While I understand that some categories have different formats and may need to tweak their points structures accordingly, the notion that every single category has to have a different points system is ridiculous.
And while some points systems work well, there are others that are either unnecessarily complicated or have the potential to produce a championship outcome that is unrepresentative of the best-performing driver/team across a season.
So, here are my pet points peeves, and after that, I’ve attempted to come up with a universal points system that addresses these issues and that I’d like to see adopted far and wide.
Too little reward for high achievers
This is something I see frequently with state-level categories. In aiming for simplicity, they come up with a points system that awards say, 30 points for the winner of each race, going down in one-point increments. The problem here is that DNF results are severely punishing and drivers who win races are not adequately rewarded, so the eventual champion is often someone who has had a lack of poor results rather than any outstanding ones.
Using the example above, a driver can score the same number of points with a trio of 11th-place finishes as they can with two race wins and a DNF; as a result, the beneficiaries of systems like these are drivers who stay out of trouble. The unintended consequence can be processional racing – drivers are more likely to settle for a solid points-haul rather than going for a risky pass, when the reward is minimal but the consequences of getting it wrong are potentially severe. The most famous beneficiaries of consistency-biased points systems like these were Russell Ingall and Rick Kelly, who won V8 Supercars championships under these types of systems in the mid-2000s.
Also tied to this is having points awarded too far down the field; if the average grid size is 20 cars but points are awarded all the way down to 40th position, the pain of a DNF becomes more acute.
Not taking into account different numbers of races per event
Again, something I see in state-level categories that might have two, three or four races on any given weekend. The aim should be to have events weighted evenly, rather than individual races, because the effort to attend a meeting is greater than the effort for participating in races once already at a race meeting.
Unnecessarily different weighting of races within rounds
For years, Races 1 and 2 at each round of the Victorian Formula Ford Championship were worth 20 points while Race 3 was worth 60 points. Given Race 3 was generally much the same length as Races 1 and 2, it made no sense for it to be worth such a disproportionately high value. It meant a driver could win the first two races, DNF the third and suffer an excessively costly points blow. Fortunately, the system has now been rectified.
There’s a similar situation in the national Sports Sedans where Race 1 is worth 30 points, Race 2 is worth 45 and Race 3 is worth 60. Again, given the races are roughly the same distance and the format is a normal progressive grid, it raises the question: what exactly are the series organisers trying to achieve with this system?
Sometimes, it may make sense to award more or less points for some races – for example, making reverse-grid races worth less points or longer feature races worth more. But if there’s no good reason, all it does is unfairly distorts championship outcomes.
Points awarded to a limited number of positions
Awarding points too far down the field is one problem, but not awarding points to all finishers is also not the fairest system, in my view – and I say this knowing that the world’s top level of car racing, Formula 1, only awards points to the top 10. At least they’re gradually improving – up until the end of 2002, it was only the top six who received points, and from 2003-09 it was the top eight.
The problem is that there is no difference between finishing 11th, and not finishing at all. Even if all finishers below a certain position are awarded a single point for seeing the chequered flag, at least it encourages drivers and teams to keep their car on the track.
The Mansell System
With all this in mind, I’ve attempted to come up with a universal points system, something that could be adopted by categories all around Australia (or the world). If categories were to adopt this system across the board, it would streamline a lot of processes – championship points would be much easier to calculate on the fly, and this would make it easier for the media to communicate points standings to the fans.
In putting this points system together, I came up with what I considered to be a fair weighting of points for each position, and multiplied it by 12. This means it can be divisible by 2, 3, 4 or 6, to suit events with different numbers of races or events where it is necessary to have a different points weighting for some races.
- This system can also be adapted for different weightings – e.g. in an event with two sprint races and a feature race, you would award 75 points for the sprints and 150 for the feature.
- Points can be awarded for pole and fastest laps as required
- The system assumes an average grid size of 20 cars but can easily be expanded or contracted – e.g. for an expected field size of 30 cars, an event would become worth 420 points in total, for an expected field size of 15 cars an event would become worth 240 points in total.