Formula One is to award double points for the last race of the season in a controversial attempt to keep championships undecided to the very end after four years of Red Bull domination.
The novelty, immediately dismissed by some angry fans as a needless gimmick, was the most eye-catching of several rule changes announced by the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) on Monday.
The FIA said double points would “maximise focus on the championship until the end of the campaign” and had been unanimously approved at a meeting in Paris of teams in the F1 Strategy Group and Formula One Commission.
Next year’s season-ender is the day-to-night race in Abu Dhabi on Nov. 23.
With the points haul on offer, that often processional event becomes worth twice as much as Monza or Monaco – the glamour highlight of the season – and the same in scoring terms as classics like Spa and Suzuka combined.
Fans were quick to express dismay and anger on social media, with a snap poll of 100 members on the f1fanatic.com website showing 92 percent opposed to the idea.
Others pointed out that bad luck in the final race would have a far greater impact on the title outcome than at any other point in the season.
Vettel, 26, won the last nine races and wrapped up his fourth title in a row with three rounds to spare this year but he would not have been champion in 2012 had double points been awarded in the last race.
Neither would Britain’s Lewis Hamilton have been champion with McLaren in 2008 nor Michael Schumacher for Ferrari in 2003, when Brazilian Felipe Massa and Finland’s Kimi Raikkonen would have taken the title instead.