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HomeNewsHOW BONUS POINTS WOULD’VE IMPACTED PAST SUPERCARS TITLES

HOW BONUS POINTS WOULD’VE IMPACTED PAST SUPERCARS TITLES

SUPERCARS’ introduction of bonus points for the fastest lap of the race at each SuperSprint event in the 2021 championship is an intriguing prospect.

As has been the case since the fastest lap rule was introduced into Formula 1 in 2019, who has the fastest lap will be another element for fans to watch out for particularly in the waning laps.

Five points will be awarded to the driver who sets the fastest lap in each of the 24 SuperSprint races, meaning a total of 120 points are up for grabs across the season.

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That sounds like a lot, but is it likely to have a significant impact on the final championship standings in 2021?

While applying such rules after the fact is an imperfect science as drivers may have acted differently had the bonus points been in place, the best forecaster is history.

Here’s our rundown of the drivers that posted fastest laps in sprint rounds across the past five seasons and how bonus points would have affected the championship standings in those years.

A quick disclaimer before we begin: the rule itself says ‘five percent of the points scored by the winner’, which for races in 2020-21 have 100 points on offer to the winner.

However, varying points hauls were on offer to the winners of races that would qualify for a fastest lap bonus in 2019 and earlier.

For ease, we’re applying this year’s 5 bonus points to those years.

Chaz Mostert set the most Fastest Laps of 2020’s SuperSprint events. Pic: Supercars

2020
Last year’s king of fastest race laps was Chaz Mostert – he took five of the 24 on offer!

He set one at each of the venues that hosted a SuperSprint round last year, including one at each of the two Sydney Motorsport Park rounds.

However, even his large haul of 25 of the theoretical 120 available bonus points would have made no difference to his fifth-place finish in points; in fact, last year’s championship placings would have been unchanged despite 12 different drivers setting fastest laps.

It’s also worth noting that – more often than not – the fastest lap was set by a driver that stopped later and charged to the finish, rather than a driver that pitted early and had to make their tyres last to the end.

Shane van Gisbergen earnt two of his three fastest laps in races where he ran a long first stint after qualifying down the field.

A late Safety Car prompted SVG’s lap 24 pit stop in Race 24 in Townsville and he passed nine cars in the closing laps to win, while a similar strategy in Race 28 at The Bend vaulted him from 22nd on the grid to fifth at the finish.

Another interesting case study is Jack Le Brocq’s fastest lap with six laps to go in Race 27 at The Bend.

A badly flat-spotted tyre forced him to make a second pit stop; he set the fastest lap of the race on his first flying lap out of the pits on the way to a 21st-place finish as the last car on the lead lap.

However, had his fastest lap earnt him five bonus points, Le Brocq would have scored more points than the car that finished in 19th place (Bryce Fullwood).

That highlights an unusual proposition under the new rules: if a title contender is down the back of the field and can’t pass the car ahead, would the driver and his engineer consider making an extra stop for fresher tyres to try and snag the bonus points?

# of Fastest LapsDriverBonus Points Earned per Driver
5Chaz Mostert25
3Shane van Gisbergen15
2Cameron Waters
Anton De Pasquale
Scott Pye
Jack Le Brocq
Bryce Fullwood
10
1Scott McLaughlin
Fabian Coulthard
David Reynolds
James Courtney
Andre Heimgartner
Jack Smith
5
No prizes for guessing which driver set the most Fastest Laps in 2019…

2019
Applying the bonus points to all SuperSprint-style rounds from 2019 nets just 16 eligible races, and just seven drivers that would have earnt points.

Scott McLaughlin dominated this statistic by taking 30 of the bonus points on offer for six fastest laps.

Once again, the extra points would not have impacted any of the final championship placings.

Interestingly, McLaughlin’s chief championship rival of 2019 – Shane van Gisbergen – didn’t earn a single fastest lap in an eligible event; the Kiwi posted two fastest laps that year, but they came at the Bathurst and Sandown enduros.

# of Fastest LapsDriverBonus Points Earned per Driver
6Scott McLaughlin30
2James Courtney
Chaz Mostert
Cameron Waters
Jamie Whincup
10
1Mark Winterbottom
David Reynolds
5
The #25 car has taken the most Fastest Laps twice in recent years. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

2018
Even fewer races would have been eligible for bonus points in 2018 – just 14 races out of 31 – but eight drivers would have split the 70 available points.

James Courtney set more fastest laps than any other driver; he’d have earnt 15 bonus points for his three fastest race laps at Symmons Plains, Barbagallo, and Queensland Raceway.

The championship battle would have been unaffected by the bonus points – both McLaughlin and van Gisbergen set two fastest laps apiece – and all other positions in the standings also remain unchanged.

# of Fastest LapsDriverBonus Points Earned per Driver
3James Courtney15
2Tim Slade
Shane van Gisbergen
Scott McLaughlin
Jamie Whincup
10
1Scott Pye
Will Davison
Nick Percat
5
McLaughlin’s haul of seven Fastest Laps in 2017 only included three set in SuperSprint races. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

2017
This is the title battle that I was most curious to see how bonus points would have impacted.

A quick reminder: Five drivers entered the final round in mathematical title contention but the final race boiled down to a head-to-head showdown between Whincup and McLaughlin, the former prevailing by just 21 points after a dramatic race for the latter.

The 2017 calendar meant a much higher proportion of races that would have been eligible for bonus points: 14 out of 26, more than half the season.

A total of 10 drivers would have earnt bonus points – including the two title contenders.

However, McLaughlin’s tally of 15 points allied to Whincup’s five – a gain of 10 points – would not have been enough to change the outcome of the championship.

It may, however, have impacted those wild final laps played out at the end of Newcastle’s Sunday race.

That 10 point swing means McLaughlin would have carried an 88-point margin into the Sunday race and needed to finish just 14th – not 11th – to secure the title; he wouldn’t have had to defend against Craig Lowndes on the run up Watt Street on that fateful penultimate lap…

The bonus system nevertheless did deliver a minor change in championship positions: Nick Percat’s two fastest laps at Barbagallo and Sydney Motorsport Park would have elevated him past Todd Kelly for 18th in the final standings.

# of Fastest LapsDriverBonus Points Earned per Driver
3Scott McLaughlin15
2Chaz Mostert
Nick Percat
10
1Craig Lowndes
Fabian Coulthard
David Reynolds
Shane van Gisbergen
James Moffat
James Courtney
Jamie Whincup
5
Whincup didn’t set a fastest lap in a SuperSprint event until Pukekohe – where he set three! Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

2016
The last season we’re looking at had a high percentage (62%) of races eligible for fastest lap bonus points – 18 races out of 29 – with 12 drivers sharing the 90 available points.

Once again, they wouldn’t have impacted the championship showdown between Triple Eight teammates Whincup and van Gisbergen as the former’s 10-point gain would not have been enough to deny the latter’s maiden Supercars title.

As in 2017, the bonus points would deliver a small change in the standings: James Moffat’s fastest lap at Barbagallo would have been enough to move him past Cameron Waters by a solitary point into 19th place in the championship.

# of Fastest LapsDriverBonus Points Earned per Driver
3Jamie Whincup15
2Fabian Coulthard
Scott McLaughliin
Chaz Mostert
Michael Caruso
10
1Will Davison
James Moffat
David Reynolds
Jason Bright
James Courtney
Craig Lowndes
Shane van Gisbergen
5
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