FIA considering pole trophy and permanent numbers

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The FIA is considering a couple of changes to the sporting regulations in Formula One for next season, notably a trophy for pole position and drivers having permanent numbers.

According to Autosport, both ideas were raised during the sport’s strategy group meeting that is made up of Ferrari, Red Bull, Williams, Lotus, McLaren and Mercedes, with the decision for a ‘pole trophy’ being borne out of a proposal to give the pole-sitter a point as found in many other racing categories.

The idea of a point for pole has been banded about in Formula One for many years as a way of placing extra importance on qualifying and encouraging drivers to push for first place on the grid. Although the changes made to the points system in 2010 addressed this issue in the races, it has been felt that potentially having championships decided on a Saturday before a race could be damaging for the sport’s reputation. Under this system, Lewis Hamilton would have won the 2007 world championship whilst Mika Hakkinen would have enjoyed a more comfortable gap to Eddie Irvine in 1999.

Instead, it has been proposed that the driver who attains the most pole positions across the course of a season is awarded a trophy at the end of year FIA prizegiving. This will spark extra interest among the fans as the battle to win this trophy could outlast that of the main championships.

However, don’t go thinking this will stop Sebastian Vettel from winning everything. He would have won the award in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013, with Lewis Hamilton claiming the most poles last year.

Further to that, the FIA is considering the introduction of permanent numbers in Formula One next season. Currently, the world champion receives the number one car with his teammate number two. Following that, teams are allocated numbers depending on their position in the constructors’ championship. In 2014, Vettel will be number one, new teammate Daniel Ricciardo is number two, Mercedes follow suit with three and four, then Ferrari and so on.

This system was introduced in 1996, but the FIA is now considering a completely new system whereby drivers have a number for their career and keep that number, regardless of the team that they drive for or their position in the championship. The only time that they would change number is if they won the drivers’ champioship when they would receive the number one car.

Such a system is used in many other top level motorsports including Moto GP, where drivers such as Valentino Rossi (46) and Marc Marquez (93) use their numbers are part of their marketing efforts. It is thought that a similar system would work in Formula One, and this number would be carried by the driver throughout their racing career. However, teams have said that the regulations would need to be changed in the event of no times being set in qualifying, where currently the results are decided on car number order.

The World Motor Sport Council is set to meet in two weeks’ time where it is thought these ideas will be debated as well as the release of the final draft of the 2014 F1 calendar.

Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images
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Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.