Double points may be axed by next month, says Ecclestone

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The much-maligned double points award for Formula One season finales may not be long for this world according to Formula One kingpin Bernie Ecclestone.

The British billionaire has told the UK’s Telegraph newspaper that the controversial rule could be scrapped as soon as next month’s meeting of the F1 Strategy Group.

But in doing so, he also revealed his own inclination for the rule.

“Personally, my preference would be for the final three races to be worth double points,” he said to the Telegraph. “But it may well be that the rule is cancelled altogether at the next [Strategy Group] meeting in January.

“I think it should be the final three races or nothing. The final three races would mean the championship is kept interesting for everyone – fans, press and television – right until the end.”

The Telegraph also says that such a rule was actually considered by the FIA in Paris before getting soundly rejected in favor of simply making the season finale only worth double points.

From the moment it got out of Paris, the scenario has triggered a negative response across almost all of Formula One with reigning four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel calling it “absurd” and former Ferrari driver Eddie Irvine dubbing it “insanity”.

Today, it was Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo’s turn. In a meeting with Italian reporters, Montezemolo said the rule “seems rather artificial and not very sporting.”

He then proceeded to call for a summit of all F1 squads at Maranello in late January.

“I think the time has come to all sit around the table with the other teams to discuss the overall approach to Formula One,” he said. “I want to talk constructively, without discussing anything to do with competitiveness but putting forward proposals in a transparent manner, without any under the table agreements.

“There should be more dialogue between the teams when it comes to discussing the problems affecting Formula One.”

Fernando Alonso completes first test with United Autosports

Photo: United Autosports
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Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.

The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.

“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.

Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”

Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.

“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.

Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.