F1 champion Vettel slams rule changes

Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany holds up the trophy after winning the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Interlagos racetrack in Brazil. Photo / AP
Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany holds up the trophy after winning the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Interlagos racetrack in Brazil. Photo / AP

Four-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel has ridiculed a decision to give double points in the final race of the upcoming seasons, calling it "absurd."

The German driver said the decision by the sport's governing body "punishes those who have worked hard for a whole season."

The idea behind the decision is to add more suspense to the season's finale. Vettel dominated this season like few drivers before him and won the title with three races to spare.

"I respect old traditions in the Formula One and I don't understand the new rule," Vettel told Sport-Bild magazine Wednesday.

"Imagine if there were suddenly double points in the final round of the Bundesliga," he said.

"This is absurd and punishes those who have worked hard for a whole season," Vettel said.

At the same time, Vettel's management confirmed German media reports that the 26-year-old driver and his 25-year-old girlfriend were expecting their first child. No details were given.

The doubling of points was one of the rule changes announced by the FIA, motor sports' governing body.

The FIA said in a statement that doubling the points for drivers and teams in the last race on the calendar will "maximize focus on the Championship until the end of the campaign."

Next year, a win at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be worth 50 points instead of the normal 25, making it less likely that the title will already be decided.

Drivers will also be allowed to choose a number to put on their cars for their entire career, unlike the current system where last year's team placings determine the numbers. The reigning champion will still be given No. 1.

The FIA said drivers will be able to pick any number between 2 and 99. If several drivers want the same number, it goes to the one who had the highest finish the previous season. The defending champion can choose whether to use No. 1 or his permanent number.

Other changes approved unanimously Monday at a meeting of the F1 Strategy Group and Formula One Commission in Paris included a cost cap for teams that will be introduced from 2015, and new five-second penalties for minor infringements during races.

A cost cap has long been discussed in F1 to make the sport more affordable, although teams have been at odds for how it should be implemented. The FIA said "the principle of a global cost cap" has now been adopted, but that the specifics will be worked out by June 2014.

-AP

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