Formula 1 has gone through a great many points systems since the first World Championship Grand Prix at Silverstone, ranging from being awarded to the top five in the very early days of the Championship, to the top ten now. But sometimes, for whatever reason, the points don’t quite get shared out as intended. This article seeks to explore those anomalies.
Firstly though, a quick look at the sort of things that won’t be included here. Things like half-points races. Occasionally, Formula 1 Grands Prix don’t go to their scheduled distance. Until the end of 2021, falling more than 25% short meant that half points were awarded to drivers. In this instance, points are still awarded, and this provision was part of the system. Thus, it’s not what this article is about. Nor is it about the Championship disqualifications suffered by Tyrrell in 1984 or Michael Schumacher in 1997; in the former case, all points finishes were reassigned to other drivers while in the latter, all of Schumacher’s points were retained, losing only his second placed Championship classification. Finally, this is also not about the 2007 Spygate punishment meted out to McLaren: although their Constructors points were stripped, Alonso and Hamilton retained their tallies.
So with that out of the way we move on to our first case study:
1956 Monaco Grand Prix
After the chaos of shared drives in the 1955 season – particularly the Argentine Grand Prix, when four drivers shared three podium positions, including Farina and Trintignant finishing (and scoring points for) both second and third place – some changes were made to the workings of shared drives. The first example of this change was Monaco 1956.
Juan Manuel Fangio hit the harbour wall on Lap 32 of the race, and when he took his pit stop his damaged car was palmed off on teammate Eugenio Castellotti. He then waited in the pits for Peter Collins’ car, which he would then drive for the last 46 laps of the race. 1950s Formula 1 was the Wild West. Fangio scored four points in this race: three points for half a second place, plus one for the fastest lap. He did not, however, score the 1.5 points for half a fourth place despite Castellotti getting the other half of the points.
Unawarded points: 1.5 points for Juan Manuel Fangio (shared 4th place)
1958 German Grand Prix
The German Grand Prix on the Nurburgring would often see Formula 1 cars race head-to-head with Formula Two machines as a way to ensure action all around the legendary 22-kilometre circuit. These Formula Two entries were not eligible for World Championship points.
Usually this wasn’t an issue, but the 1958 race ended with Bruce McLaren in fifth place, just ten seconds behind the fourth-placed Ferrari of von Trips. The only problem was that McLaren was driving a Cooper Formula Two car. Although it was expected that the points might be inherited by the next Formula 1 car, this proved not to be the case – the next eligible car, tenth-placed Cliff Allison, was given nothing for being the fifth Formula 1 runner, despite that being the bottom points paying position.
Unawarded points: 2 points for either Bruce McLaren or Cliff Allison (5th place)
1958 Italian Grand Prix
By 1958, shared drives were no longer in vogue, and the decision had been made that they would not score points. Despite this, after retiring his Scuderia Centro Sud-entered Maserati very early on, Carroll Shelby still found himself a car to drive. He took over Masten Gregory’s Temple Buell-entered Maserati, and drove it home in fourth place, some seven laps ahead of fifth. (Again, Wild West.)
The pair’s fourth-place finish stood, but they were awarded no points for their troubles.
Unawarded points: 1.5 points each for Masten Gregory and Carroll Shelby (shared 4th place)
1960 Argentine Grand Prix
Yet another Argentine Grand Prix held in the height of the Buenos Aires summer, in which at least three drivers are listed as having retired from the race due to being physically unable to continue. A fourth, Maurice Trintignant, also voluntarily chose not to finish the race, handing over his car to team leader Stirling Moss who drove it to a podium ahead of Carlos Mendetiguy.
Thanks to the aforementioned 1958 rule, they scored no points. This would prove to be the end of shared drives in Formula 1, as ultimately nobody really gained anything from running them. Moss was third in the Championship regardless, but those would have been Trintignant’s only points of the year.
Unawarded points: 2 points each to Maurice Trintignant and Stirling Moss (shared 3rd place)
1966 Monaco Grand Prix
The opening race of the 1966 Formula 1 season was a chaotic one. Only four cars were classified by the time the chequered flag fell after 100 laps, including (bizarrely) all three BRMs, the last time this would happen until 1970 as the team would struggle with their new H16 and V12 engines.
There were also ten retirements and two cars that spent far too long in the pits to ever challenge for points: Guy Ligier and Jo Bonnier strolling around 25 and 27 laps down respectively. This meant that they were still listed behind the retired Richie Ginther, who was a mere 20 laps down.
Unawarded points: 2 points to Richie Ginther (5th place) and 1 point to Guy Ligier (6th place)
1966 Belgian Grand Prix
Just a few weeks later and the same kind of thing happened again. After a catastrophic cavalcade of lap one nonsense left just seven cars to circulate the 14-kilometre Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, the cars mostly held position and did not generally drive flat out. The sixth and seventh placed cars of Guy Ligier and Dan Gurney (four and five laps down respectively) were not classified, as they were more than 10% down on the leader in what was only a 28-lap race.
This was Ligier’s second unawarded point in two races, although this would later somewhat balance itself out as he inherited a point at the 1967 German Grand Prix for finishing in 8th place, thanks to managing to finish behind the two non-scoring Formula Two cars of Jackie Oliver and Alan Rees.
Unawarded points: 1 point to Guy Ligier (6th place)
1968 Spanish Grand Prix
Taking place in the shadow of Jim Clark’s recent death at Hockenheim, the Spanish Grand Prix at Jarama attracted only 13 starters. With such a small field, there was always a chance that the points positions would not be completely filled, and so it proved. Only five cars would finish, including the Matra of Beltoise that was nine laps down in fifth place.
The longest-running non-finisher was Bruce McLaren; the owner-driver suffered an oil leak with 13 laps to go which ultimately robbed him of guaranteed points.
Unawarded points: 1 point to Bruce McLaren (5th)
1968 Monaco Grand Prix
Monaco always used to be restricted to a 16-car grid, and sometimes that did have hilarious results. One such example was the 1968 Grand Prix, where the cars spent the first 16 laps dropping like flies to a variety of mechanical faults and skill issues. This left only five cars to run the remaining 64 laps, which Hill, Attwood, Bianchi, Scarfiotti and Hulme successfully did without any further retirements.
This one may be a record though, as the sixth-best car – the Honda of Surtees – was a spectacular 64 laps down on the winner after a Lap 16 gearbox failure.
Unawarded points: 1 point to John Surtees (6th place)
1970 Spanish Grand Prix
This race had all kinds of chaos going on as the Grand Prix organisers, the Formula 1 teams and the Commission Sportive Internationale all had different ideas about who had actually qualified for the race. This resulted in the nonsense of Rolf Stommelen setting the 12th fastest time and DNQing (before being allowed to start from 16th after Courage’s practice accident left his De Tomaso irreparable) while Mario Andretti set the 20th fastest time and started 15th.
It is probably not a surprise then that this race did not finish with as many as six cars still running: instead, the points ran down to Johnny Servoz-Gavin in fifth and last, while McLaren’s John Surtees missed out after a gearbox failure. Only one top-10 qualifier actually finished the race, and a majority of points-scorers qualified below a car that didn’t qualify.
Unawarded points: 1 point to John Surtees (6th place)
1980 Spanish Grand Prix
Yet another Jarama fiasco here, this weekend began with a spate of withdrawals with Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Renault all bailing on the event on the basis of the squabbling between FISA and FOCA, this time regarding fines for missing pre-race driver briefings.
With the FISA cars out of the way, the race looked likely to be a battle between Ligier and Williams, with Piquet’s Brabham always poised to pick up the pieces. However, this was a race that would be littered with crashes and accidents. On Lap 37, Laffite was battling the two Williams cars for the lead: Laffite attempted to dive up the inside of second-place Jones but caught the left rear wheel of the Williams. This broke his front right suspension and sent him careering into race leader Reutemann in what may stand as one of Formula 1’s more stupid accidents.
When Eddie Cheever’s gearbox gave up the ghost, costing Osella an almost guaranteed podium finish, that left only six cars still running: Jones, Mass’s Arrows, de Angelis’ Lotus, Jarier’s Tyrrell, Fittipaldi’s Fittipaldi and Gaillard’s Ensign a few laps behind them all. Pleasingly, all six would make the finish line, and Gaillard scored his first World Championship point.
For one day. Until FISA opted to declare the entire race a non-Championship event on the grounds that it was “absolutely illegal” – containing over a dozen drivers from whom FISA had stripped their racing licences on the basis of an unpaid c. $2,000 fine that was at the time being legally appealed.
Unawarded points: 9 points for Alan Jones (1st place), 6 points for Jochen Mass (2nd place), 4 points for Elio de Angelis (3rd place), 3 points for Jean-Pierre Jarier (4th place), 2 points for Emerson Fittipaldi (5th place) and 1 point for Patrick Gaillard (6th place)
1982 San Marino Grand Prix
In the thick of the FISA-FOCA War, the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix took place without the vast majority of FOCA-aligned teams. This was due to a boycott being called in response to the disqualification of Keke Rosberg and Nelson Piquet from the Brazilian Grand Prix due to running underweight with empty “water cooling” tanks. Only ATS, Osella, Toleman and Tyrrell crossed the picket line and raced anyway.
Thus, the San Marino race was held with a mere 14 runners, of whom seven saw the chequered flag. Unfortunately for Toleman, Teo Fabi was eight laps down and therefore not classified. Winkelhock’s sixth-placed ATS would ultimately be subject to the most ironic disqualification of all time: in a race boycotted by FOCA teams over disqualifications for underweight cars, one of the FOCA teams who broke the boycott found themselves disqualified for running an underweight car.
Unawarded points: 1 point to Teo Fabi (6th place)
1983 Brazilian Grand Prix
Much like at the 1982 Brazilian Grand Prix, Keke Rosberg would be disqualified from second place. This time it was due to receiving a push start in the pits. Very strangely though, the cars that finished the race behind him were not promoted, which left second place and its six associated points vacant, but which caused no fewer than five drivers to miss out.
Even more strangely, there seems to be no sign of the five teams that would have benefited ever appealing this anomaly. Formula 1’s official archive shows that further down the field, the three cars that finished behind de Angelis’ disqualified Lotus were promoted.
Unawarded points: 6 points to Niki Lauda (2nd place)*
* Lauda missed out on two points, then Laffite, Tambay, Surer and Prost missed out on one each – this would have brought Prost’s Championship deficit down to just one point by the end of the season.
1984 Detroit Grand Prix
The Detroit Street Circuit was a renowned car-breaker, and so it proved as the 26-car grid was subjected to 20 retirements. The rarefied group of finishers thus all received points, all the way down to the Williams-Honda of Jacques Laffite in sixth place. However, the Tyrrell team would subsequently be disqualified from the Championship as punishment for running the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix cheating weight limits using lead shot.
As a result, there were now only five classified finishers, with the next-best retiree being Michele Alboreto, whose Ferrari blew up 14 laps from the end.
Unawarded points: 1 point to Michele Alboreto (6th place)
1984 Italian Grand Prix
The early 1980s were also the period that marked the sport’s transition from the World Championship of Drivers to the Formula 1 World Championship. It is fair to say that there were some teething issues, one of which was how the Championship handled second entries by teams that had previously committed only to running one car for the season.
At Monza, two such cars emerged from the mess of their competitors running out of fuel to round off the points positions: Jo Gartner, who claimed fifth place in the second Osella, and Gerhard Berger, who claimed sixth place in the second ATS. This is where the FIA’s genius came into play: they scored no points for their trouble. The points were not passed down the field, they just ceased to exist – and thus, they make this list.
Unawarded points: 2 points to Jo Gartner (5th place) and 1 point to Gerhard Berger (6th place)
1987 Australian Grand Prix
It has so far been very unusual for the same quirky rule to appear twice on this list, but this one does: Yannick Dalmas emerged from a chaotic Australian Grand Prix in fifth place driving the second Larrousse, promoted from sixth place after Senna’s disqualification. Larrousse (running customer Lolas) were entered as a one-car team though, and we know what happens in that situation: no points for Dalmas, and no extra points for anyone else.
Unawarded points: 2 points to Yannick Dalmas (5th place)
2005 United States Grand Prix
The Indianapolis road course made weird things happen, none weirder than the infamous six-car Grand Prix in 2005. Of course, since 2003 the points went down to eighth place, the six-car race left two points positions unclaimed.
The FIA listed the non-starters in order of their grid positions, meaning that Trulli and Raikkonen are the seventh and eighth listed drivers. But even in this reality-stretching exercise it would be unreasonable to award points to cars that didn’t start the race.
Unawarded points: 2 points and 1 point to nobody (vacant 7th and 8th place)
2019-present: The Fastest Lap point
Just as it seemed like modern reliability had consigned unawarded points to the past, the introduction of a fastest lap point that was conditional to a driver’s finishing position has breathed life into it. That said, examples of this particular phenomenon will be grouped together to save needless repetition.
- Kevin Magnussen, Singapore 2019, fastest lap while finishing 17th
- Max Verstappen, Azerbaijan 2021, fastest lap as a non-finisher
- Sergio Perez, Great Britain 2021, fastest lap while finishing 16th
- nobody, Belgium 2021, fastest lap not credited to any driver (not even Mazepin)
- Valtteri Bottas, Mexico 2021, fastest lap while finishing 15th
This shows yet another way that 2021 was a weird year. No doubt this list will continue to grow from time to time, and there will of course be further additions to the 65.5 points that have so far slipped through the cracks of Formula 1 history. For now though, a graph:
But would any of these lost points made a tangible difference to Formula 1? Alan Jones winning one more Grand Prix in his Championship-winning year would have mattered little, but Jochen Mass’s second place would have been a much bigger deal: his Arrows team managed only eleven points all season, and those extra six points would have taken his team from seventh to fifth in the Championship.
Similarly, Osella’s two lost points in 1984 would have lifted them from 12th and last of the points scorers all the way up to ninth place – ahead of Ligier and Arrows twice (with two different engine manufacturers). This would have been both the team’s highest-ever finish and their highest-scoring season. Instead, the team continued to run on one of the lowest budgets in Formula 1 history until 1990, but they would never score another point.
ATS, the other team to not score in that race, would not carry on until 1990, nor even 1985. They were unclassified in the World Constructors Championship and ran out of money for good despite the D7 being arguably their best ever F1 car: it was the only one that went an entire season without once failing to qualify. Had the team collected that point and both the money and respectability that went with it, the Rial team and attached wheel rim business (operated by former ATS owner Gunter Schmid before it too ran out of money) may never have existed at all.
Most of the time though, the missing points had little to no obvious effect. No real consequences, no Championships won or lost. And that’s what makes them so perfect to write 3,000 words about.
- At the 1967 German Grand Prix, Jackie Oliver was not awarded two points due to being in a Formula Two car. However, these were reallocated to Formula 1 cars further down the field.
- At the 1969 German Grand Prix, Henri Pescarolo and Dickie Attwood were not awarded two and one point(s) respectively due to being in Formula Two cars. These too were reallocated further down the field – to non-finishers Siffert and Beltoise, who were classified 11th and 12th.
- Despite only four finishers, all points were awarded at the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix because the last few retirees had completed more than 90% of the race distance and were therefore classified.
- The 2008 Australian Grand Prix was one lap short of having an unawarded point: only seven cars finished, including the disqualified Barrichello (jumped a red light in the pits), but the last two retirements were classified.
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