South Korea returns, double points binned

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 03, 2014 11:35 AM

By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One scrapped its unloved double points experiment on Wednesday while provisionally reinstating the South Korean Grand Prix to a 2015 calendar bulging with a record 21 races.

The governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) listed Korea as the fifth round of the season on May 3, with the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona scheduled for the following weekend.

Korea's return after being dropped in 2014 was a surprise. The tight turnaround, and the teams' previous reluctance to have more than 20 races, immediately raised doubts about the likelihood of it happening.

The season will start in Australia on March 15.

Mexico will also return to the calendar after a 23-year absence, with a race scheduled for Nov. 1 in Mexico City.

China becomes the third race of the season on April 12, taking the slot initially assigned to Bahrain on a previous draft. Bahrain is now on April 19.

Changes to the sporting regulations included the decision to abandon the controversial experiment with double points introduced this year for the final race in Abu Dhabi.

The format was unpopular with fans and risked making a mockery of the season, with eventual champion Lewis Hamilton in danger of losing out to Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg despite winning 10 races to the German's five.

A plan to introduce standing re-starts after the introduction of a safety car was also jettisoned after teams raised safety concerns, but a 'virtual safety car' system was agreed.

"It will normally be used when double waved yellow flags are needed on any section of track and competitors or officials may be in danger, but the circumstances are not such as to warrant use of the safety car itself," the FIA said.

From 2016, the super license rules will be changed to ensure drivers are at least 18 years old before they can make their debuts.

The change would have kept out Dutch teenager Max Verstappen, who will become the youngest ever driver at 17 when he makes his debut with Toro Rosso next March, if introduced for next year.

On the technical side, the rules on exceeding the allocation of power units and components were changed with the replacement of a complete unit no longer incurring a penalty.

The FIA said a meeting of the sport's strategy group had been called for Dec. 18 to focus on ways of reducing costs.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris and Toby Davis)