F1 Winter Break
Bernie's going for Gold
Bernie's going for Gold
Posted By:   |  26 Nov 2008   |  12:08 pm GMT  |  43 comments

Just back from a press conference at the Landmark Hotel, London, where Bernie Ecclestone said more about the proposed “medals” scheme in F1 and announced that LG the consumer electronics group, will sponsor F1 next year. You as viewers will be very aware of this deal as you watch, because the timing graphics, which appear on screen every 20 seconds of so will be LG branded. I think they will also sponsor the rev counter graphic you see on screen. They will develop F1 branded telies and other products off the back of the deal.

The deal was put together by Just Marketing, who also pulled in Johnnie Walker, Hilton Hotels and Lenovo to F1. Interestingly the event was fronted by BBC’s new F1 anchor Jake Humphreys, with whom I had an enjoyable chat. He’s a decent bloke, from the looks of things and he’s followed the sport for a while, so he’s not without knowledge. And he must be a sharp operator as he got himself a nice little earner today before he’s even hosted an F1 show!

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The whole medals idea has been floating around for a while now. I'm still undecided as to whether it's right though.

On a per race basis it makes sense but then we've always hailed the top three as the best anyway with trophies and podiums.

On a championship basis i'm not sure it makes as much sense. The car and driver that win the championship should be the best of the best. If Driver A and B crash out of half of their races how are they better than driver C who finished second in every race?

Also, as much as the top 3 are important in any race i do care who gets what points all the way down to 1. In the days of Minardi, Super Aguri, etc getting that last point was a celebration! Something i enjoyed celebrating with them too. It seems a shame to remove that aspect.

It's a tough call. One thing i do like about F1 is it's a progressive sport that is willing to try new things, even if it turns out they don't work, it's good to at least try.


Although it might seem a slightly odd way of deciding the championship, you have to love Bernie's bluntness:

"When then asked if it was fair that someone who wins six races but doesn't finish any others, beats someone who had finished every race in second place, Ecclestone replied: "He'll have to try harder next year.""



James, I'd like to ask as you always have very insightful takes on these issues - what do you think of the possible medals system?

Enjoying the blog



What a bloody awful idea. Each race is a race. If you want to win that race, go balls out and win it. But if you want to win a championship then play the long game. It is a SERIES of races after all, and if you want to win outright then you have to make hard-thought, tactical decisions about risking failure.

It is possible, of course, that Bernie has gone off the boil slightly. He is nearly eighty and may well have other things on his mind at the moment, like an expensive and complicated divorce. Why do all the team owners agree with him? Well, if it doesn't affect their team more or less than any other then of course they are going to take the path of least resistance and not upset Yoda.


Medal system for F1. Great. But only for the front runners, and it goes against what I think is essential to F1 - the midfield and backmarker race.

So only the Top 3 finishers will get any sort of acknowledgment, with the rest considered totally equal with each other. I'd hate to see that happening.

Drivers who are stuck in let's say 10th, or maybe even as high as 5th, might as well just retire instead of finishing the race. There would be no point to push hard and race the bloke in front of them anymore. And even if they do decide to, would the driver in front of them put up a fight, with nothing to gain or lose?

But on the upside of course lesser teams will all have that gung-ho, risk everything spirit like we've seen with Renault this year. How that would affect the race against the traditional front-runners, only time will tell.

We will have to wait for further clarifications of the medal system to fully understand the situation though. Hopefully it won't be as simple as we've been led to believe - medals for the top 3 finishers, most gold medals throughout the season wins the championship.
Here's hoping.


F1 has always been a tactical sport and playing for points has been a great part of that. It may create more racing and a more Gung Ho attitude to overtaking but this will inevitably bring more collisions and more penalties.

If winning the race is the be all and end all we will get drivers not being particularly bothered if they collide with a title contender taking them out the race or doing enough to stop them from winning the race. Then what happens which rain affected races? We could end up getting a 4 driver championship all tied on 2 or 3 wins. Do we then go down to how many Silver and Bronze medals they have?

I suggest a point system a bit more widespread like used in other formats but one which favours the win. Like 30, 20, 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 down to the 10th place (keeping the constructors of the smaller teams happy as well). A 10 point gain would be enough of a carrot to try and make a rival overtake the other.


So how will the lower placed teams share out the prize money?

I thought the TV revenue etc was divided up amongst the teams depending on how many points they got.

How's that going to work if only the top 3 finishers are going to be rewarded?

Abu Hussain Al-Ingleezi

The whole point of F1 is to become world champion. The question then is how do you 'compare' drivers, either in the current points system which inludes more chances for lower order teams, or the new medal system which aims to promote overtaking and would probably see lower teams die off.

The medal system is purely aimed at making the sport more 'exciting' and less tactical as in currently is. But, you couldn't have got any more exciting than this years championship even though some drivers were just trying to stay in sixth!

Everyone wants to overtake, in fact everyone wants to overtake everyone else, it's not the medals that will help or prevent this but the cars, tyres, rain, fuel or whatever. This is where options are to improve overtaking, but the points system I think still works really well.

One other option is to increase the points for a win to say 12 instead of 10.


food for thought. With the way penalties were given this year, better bernie have a talk with the marshalls to let the boys race from now on. Otherwise this is going to get ridiculous. Even more than this year.
Go bernie.
And good luck with your divorce. You are going to need it. Sadly you do not make divorce laws.


If the medal idea gets passed by the FIA thenit will be the worst thing to happen to F1 in the 18 years i have followed the sport.

It will give no reward for finishing anywhere from 2nd down to 20th. How can someone be a worthy F1 champion if they win 6 races and crash out of the rest? The Gold, Silver, Bronze will devalue the racing.

The better alternative is to increase the gap between 1st, 2nd and 3rd so the guys racing at the front have more incentive to go for the extra 4-6 points.

This new system give no incentive for the slower teams whatsoever.

Bernie seems to be too much in control of F1 and seems only to be interested in what can make him more money. I'm seriously hoping the FIA sees sense and does not pass this through.


I don't like the idea of this points system, it sounds like a bit of a fad. Surely a better solution would be to re-work the points system to 10, 6, 4, and so on, so that you have a bigger advantage points wise by finishing 1st over 2nd. Also, F1 is confusing enough for some newcomers, so try explaining to them championship positions, differences between medals for the drivers chapionship and points for constructors.


I think Bernie is off his rocker, and Mosely will be too if the FIA rubber stamp this proposal. Just a few months ago both Bernie and Max were worried about losig teams from the back of the grid. Surely this proposal isnt gonna make the likes of Williams and Force India want to stick around for much longer if it was to go ahead. Why would any of the drivers want to compete if its possible to claim the championship before the end of July?

Half the reason that the points system was adjusted to reward drivers down to 8th was because of the top two teams locking out 1st to 4th. Isnt this going to effectively do the same?

Bernie is right that the points system needs changing, but not in this manner.


I appreciate Bernie's medal system could provide more incentive to try and get 1st place rather than settle for second. But it seems unfair that to come second would be the equivelant of a non-points finish as far as the championship is concerned.

Could they not just change the scoring system so first place had more than the 2 point advantage it currently has. That way there would be even more incentive to win a Grand Prix, but would still keep the championship battle alive.


If the championship is decided much before the season ends, more likely under Bernie's medals scheme, the commercial value of races that are meaningless to the championship diminishes. I don't get it.


It's a ridiculous idea and quite obviously biased in favour of teams like Ferrari.

It would make Grand Prix a farce if the only cars that bother to 'race' are the ones at the front. The backmarkers become nothing more than mobile advertising hoardings if they stand no chance of getting some points. At least with the old system, they had a chance of getting some glory if there was a crash or a change in the weather. But there's no point in pushing, if the front runners are the only ones to walk away with the prizes.

Anything to let the red car win the Championship!!!


Someone winning the championship well before the season ends is more likely under Bernie's medal scheme. If that happens, the subsequent races are meaningless to the championship. Fewer viewers and commercial broadcasters who don't think F1 is worth what they've paid in the past. Who could blame them if they come to the same conclusion as ITV?


Surely if medals are introduced, everything below the top 3 becomes pretty much irrelevant to the championship. Didn't Bernie decide to award more points for the lower positions a few years ago to stop a cartain someone running away with the championship? And surely, if you believe the hype, Lewis Hamilton is going to end up being just as dominant (Not that I believe that he will).

I think there should be points given to everyone on the lead lap at the end of the race, as that would enourage everyone on the grid to at least keep pace with the leaders, and if the disparity in points is large enough, it will encourage overtaking at the top end of the grid.


It's a terrible idea surely? A massive over-reaction to a very small problem. Surely it’s a radical idea which forces the teams to come up with alternatives or accept a comprimise (just like the idea of a single F1 engine supplier). Why do they have to play these games so publically? This is just embarrasing!


Here's a thought. Should be it be highest number of gold medals wins or maybe total number of medals?

No doubt if golds are equal then it'll go down to total silvers anyway but maybe the medal tally is more telling of who is "best".

Should the guy who won 5 golds and 3 silvers be the champion over somebody who won 6 golds and 0 silvers? I still think finishing 18 races is better than winning 6 and not finishing any of the others!!

Brazil is a case in point. I've never been so happy to see a driver finish 5th in my life!

As Martin Brundle said in the commentary after the Brazil race had finished, "Lewis deserves to win the championship, the best man won" even though Massa won more races in 2008.


This idea will reduce challenges within the top three - the consequences of losing a medal will be too great. The excitement will be for the 3rd and 4th placed drivers. One with everything to lose and one with nothing to lose.

Personally, I think Bernie is starting to do more harm than good to F1. These decisions should be made by the FIA and his power should be limited to "sales and marketing".


I think it is a ridiculous idea but I am slightly warming to it, probably because it is going to happen but it is a bit far-fetched though. I just think the scoring needs a slight tweak to it by increasing the gap between 1st and 2nd, say give the winner 12 points.


What about races where one car has a clear advantage? Surely they will become incredibly tedious because there will be no interest further down the field.
If a front runner has a bad qualifying, he may as well go home? There is nothing to be gained by battling back to 5th, 4th etc and bagging a few crucial points.
I don't understanding where this is coming from? The fact that the championship was settled by Lewis finishing 5th in Brazil? That was one of, if not the, most exciting races I've ever seen!
The race would only have been compelling with the medals system if Lewis and Massa were fighting for the lead. Even if McLaren hadn't gone conservative the Ferrari would surely still have been quicker, putting Lewis third, at best, and out of contention.
The last two seasons have been the most exciting for years, and with the new technical regulations next year, why change the points as well? Surely those in F1 know that you should make changes in isolation, otherwise you can't tell works and what doesn't!


It's funny how Bernie reveals that the teams and the FIA are happy about it - but what about the fans - why do we not get a chance to voice our opinions?

The same goes for quali - I think that they've finally hit on a format that not only works, but is exciting, and then they start talking about changing it - why?

If they made changes after it is clear that they are either unpopular or in desperate need, then I would have no problems accepting them - but I think it is ignorant to say that as long as the teams and the FIA are happy, then the fans have to make do!

Ahwell, just got to grin and bear it I suppose...

...on another note, it is nice to get an insider's view of these things, and I look forward to getting updates across the Winter - thanks James!


Why, Why, Why does Bernie insist on tinkering with things!
This is a really bad idea and should never have seen the light of day.
Bernie has stated that "All the teams are happy" - I really don't see how the likes of Force India would be happy with this scenario at all. The chances are they would end up with nothing to show for the season.
The best solution would be to increase the number of points that the race winner receives, that way the points system will favour the driver that wins the most races, while also giving the rest of the teams further down the grid the chance to fight for some reward.
This is one idea that will really spoil things, NOT improve!!

The sooner that Bernie leaves the scene the better!


I've got mixed feelings about it.

In the 58 years of the championship, the driver with the most wins has won the driver's title on all but 13 occasions. And when you look closely at those 13 seasons, you could certainly argue that Bernie's medals idea might well have given us a more deserving champion. I'm thinking of seasons like 1987 - Mansell won 6, Piquet won 3 - Piquet gets the crown but was he the dominant force that year?

On the other hand, surely Bernie could achieve much the same result by just giving 15 points for a win.


I think maybe Bernie is off his rocker, If you have a nice piece of cake and you think "that's the best piece of cake I've had for years" you don't go and change the recipe!!


Not a good idea at all!! Of course, the fact that the first 8 get points is too much, but reducing it to just the first 3 is outrageous! what can be done, is to go back to the old format, that is, the first 6 to be awarded the points....or maybe 5. That would spark things up, I think!


If I wanted medals, I'd watch tiddlywinks or do cross country. In F1, I want to see trophies and points victories! Some things in life should go - spandex, 80's haircuts and slinkies. Other things are so sacred that they shouldn't be messed with - no, I don't want jam in my hobnob biscuit thank you very much.

If Bernie wants to have a little tinkle, why doesnt he just increase the number of points for victory to 12/14? When the last few championships have come down to single digit point differences, I think this would be a better solution than a 'Going for Gold' scenerio.

But alas.... Lewis winning after all those penalties no doubt has ruined the 'only the red car shall win' rule... Why don't we just ban every other team from the championship and have a US GP every race and get it over with.


If F1 goes with this medal system, I for one will give up supporting the series and watching it on TV, what a farce


I think the points system needs to stay but has anyone thought that this could be Bernie's way of realigning the sport with the 2012 Olympics.

After all, he has stated that Silverstone will not hold the British Grand Prix if Donnington falls through, could this be paving the way for a 2012 Olympic Grand Prix at Silverstone, or dare I say it, London?


I am all for the idea of gold medals - especailly if payment for them comes out of Bernies own pocket - in addition to a points system, but replacing the points one with effectively rewards thru third is is just plain daft. Year after year the same four or five faces are at the front of the field. What incentive or encouragement will there be for all the other runners if they never get any reward for their efforts? Is a race for 7th place still not potentially as exciting as one for the lead? What will the lower echelon teams actually be racing for? Also does the current points system not impact on the revenues each team will receive for the following season? This year Lewis Hamilton won at Spa one of the most brilliant F1 races I have ever seen - a race that was instead given to Felipe Massa (a victory for Massa whom I like well enough which I will NEVER acknowledge). So Massa should have won the Championship this year basically because of a cock-eyed stewards decision?

I have watched F1 for 40 years and for various reasons each year find it less satisfactory - primarily perhaps because it is now all about commercialism and the poseur factor. The points system has sufficed for years. To improve the racing put all the cars on 6 inch wide tires and then sit back and watch the spectacle!


It won't happen, and I imagine Bernie knows it won't.

Time after time after time he'll threaten to introduce something the teams will hate so they feel they've got a good deal when they take a moderate option.

A recent example of this was the proposition to have one engine in the sport was used to bully the teams in to accepting cost-cutting amendment to the current rules.

If this goes ahead we'll need a different set of stewards for '09. I really hope it doesn't... I envisage seeing teams adopt spoiling strategies from the off, so say a #2 driver makes a farce of Monaco by bunching the whole pack behind him whilst his team-mate waltzes into the distance. ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzz


Just another thought. Bernie says that everyone he has spoken to agrees with the idea. He claims that the teams and drivers are behind him on this one. But what about the most important people in this sport? What about the fans? It's clear that very few are for this idea.


The idea is a farce. I have always said the person who wins the most Gp's should be champion, but medals arent the answer.

Extending the points gap between 1st and 2nd is and its simple.

Give the winner 12 or 15 points.


Medals Is not.

Ive also herd reports of a new qualifying format.

Just leave things as they are.


Massa won more races this year than Hamilton.
But this does count the Belgian result, which everyone will remember, was taken from Hamilton and given to Massa by the stewards. For what? Overtaking! The very thing this rule change is supposed to promote.

Without that decision Hamilton wins the championship earlier by both systems. Is this new plan just a way for the stewards to be able to more easily decide the outcome of the championship, without letting issues like who is actually the best driver getting in the way?


I think it's clear that Bernie Ecclestone gets his kicks from annoying as many people as he can. That's the only reasonable explanation for his behavior these last few years. He goes against almost all the wishes of the fans as expressed in the FIA surveys and elsewhere, and against most of the wishes of the teams as well.

This system will do nothing to improve the spor in any way whatsoever. It'll make an early WDC more likely than before and create great disincentives to racing for anything but the top three positions.
[ moderated ]


James, just out of curiosity I was wondering if anyone has produced a table of teams and how well their season has been financially and championship wise.

By this i mean how much they spent compared to how many points they scored. The most successful being most points and lowest budget.

Maybe the results would be skewed somewhat due to the amount of money the teams made from F1 in 2008. The bigger more successful teams being able to spend more as they win more.

This may be something Formula Money have done in the 08/09 book. Alas I don't have a spare £150 to find out!


This means that only the top 3 or 4 teams need bother turning up, if there is no way that mid and back end teams can gain any points.

Points are important to give the teams their share of the money pot for transport expenses. It makes a hug difference to the small teams having their air fares paid.

Maybe Bernie has solved this by simply keeping it all for himself, remember we will be paying for his divorce soon so every penny ...!


Surely the biggest barrier to overtaking in the last few years has not been anything to do with points, but the simple fact that it's become almost impossible to get a decent tow from the guy you're chasing? Overtaking is all about being measurably faster than the guy in front, and most of the cars are too close in performance to be able to overtake without being able to slipstream, and since it's so difficult to slipstream they can't get fast enough to put a move on. It's always going to be a problem until they either find some way of changing the rules to ensure cars leave a clean wake, or until someone finds the Next Big Breakthrough.


I've been debating the merits of this with friends for a couple of days and there are so many reasons why this is a bad idea:
1) The championship could in theory be decided by the halfway point if 1 driver wins every race in the 1st half of the season (seems unlikely but think back to Schuey a few years ago).
2) We'll see more races decided in the courts rather than on track because Gold is so much more valuable than Silver so teams will be more inclined to appeal the race result.
3) Why would the midfield and backmarker teams agree to this? It basically means the medals would get divided between Ferrari and McLaren an nobody else would get a look in.
4) How is the prize money divided amongst the lower teams?

If anything, they need to extend the points beyond 8th and stop penalising drivers who attempt an overtake.

On a side note, I was surprised to read recently (and haven't checked the maths) that this is the first season where the 10,8,6,5,4,3,2,1 scoring system has changed the championship result. Under the older 10,6,4,3,2,1 system Massa would have won by something like 3 points.


If you want close racing, introduce a success ballast like in WTCC. That will close the field up. Although I cant see the teams going for it.

To give the drivers incentive to go for the win make the points weighting different. At the moment getting 1st rather than 2nd only means 25% more points( 8 vs 10). Under the older scoring system you got 66% more points for the win (6 vs 10).
Maybe a system like 40, 20, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 would work better as the front teams would always want to o for the win, but you would get really close tactical stuff in the midfield and back of the pack.

Having said all of this, the whole idea of going outright for the win is in direct conflict with all the cost cutting measures the fia are trying to introduce. If you give the win two many points, then it may become worth while trashing your car and thrashing your engine to an inch of its life to get the win, even if you get a penalty in the next race


This is daft.
Its going to create chaos. Continual kamikaze passing attempts resulting in more crashes, sort of like Saturday nights at the local dirt track.
And many, many more Safety Car periods.
And, btw, no incentive whatsoever for the slowest 15 or 20 drivers to give a damn.



What is Bernie's problem? He is just introducing this because he did not want Hamilton to win the championship. If Massa won would he have come up with this? He just says this coz Massa won 1 race more then Hamliton by default. Come on.

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