With a new season of Formula 1 about to get underway, the FIA, the governing body of Formula 1, has given a green light to new changes which will be enforced when the 2019 season unfolds in Melbourne.

Starting in the 2019 season, drivers who register a fastest lap in the race will be awarded an additional point which will be credited to both drivers’ and constructors’ championship total. Approved by the F1 Commission and ratified by the World Motor Sports Council, the awarding of a bonus point will be implemented at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

There is a catch to the new rule, however. According to The Guardian, for the driver and his team to get the bonus point, he has to be classified in the top 10 at the end of the race. If the driver who registers the fastest lap finishes outside of the Top 10, the additional point will not be given.

We have often seen drivers registering fastest laps late in the race when their fuel loads have dropped considerably and they no longer have something to fight for. With the new system in place, drivers who are outside of the top 10 can still fight for something extra. They can prevent their rivals from getting the bonus point even if the point does not pass to them as well.

The introduction of the bonus point means that there is an additional 21 points that can be scored during the season.

With seven fastest laps during the 2018 season, Mercedes driver Finn Valtteri Bottas won the DHL Fastest Lap Award for securing the most fastest laps during the season.

Added interest in the races

According to F1 sporting boss Ross Brawn, this new incentive is designed to arouse interest to the races. He said that the new rule was the result of research that the commission has carried out with thousands of F1 fans around the world for several months already.

The last few years has been dominated by Team Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton. According to Brawn, such a move will make the latter part of a race even more interesting as drivers will try to keep other drivers from getting the bonus point.

Blast from the past

This is not the first time that the FIA has awarded bonus points for fastest laps.

From 1950 – 1959, a bonus point was awarded for the fastest lap. During the 1954 season at the British GP, Stirling Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio were just two of seven drivers who shared fastest laps. Each of the drivers were awarded a seventh of a point each. In 1960, the point was awarded to sixth place instead. During the 1958 season, this rule allowed Mike Hawthorn to become world champion.