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Divided response to FIA new points idea
Divided response to FIA new points idea
Posted By:   |  18 Mar 2009   |  7:03 am GMT  |  55 comments

There has been a mixed response internationally to the new points system agreed by the FIA yesterday. Here on JA on F1, it’s pretty clear from your comments that you are against it. Also we have been running a Polldaddy poll and the results are 80-20 against.

Over in Spain, Marca newspaper has a similar 80-20 against ratio.

Meanwhile in Italy, La Gazzetta dello Sport has been running a poll and – with a huge response – the result is a dead heat 50-50.

What I find interesting in many of your responses is that you had been really looking forward to the new season with the excitement over Brawn, the new rules and new pecking order but yesterdays’ decisions on points and budget caps has given many of you a cold shower.

Most of you seem to prefer the FOTA idea of 12 points for the winner to the system adopted yesterday. Many fear the title will be decided early.

I think we’ll have to see how this one evolves. In an evenly matched season like last one, Massa and Hamilton were only one win apart and the same was true in 2007 with Raikkonen.

However a dominant year is a dominant year and the guy on top wins whatever the points system.

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This really has numbed my enthusiasm for F1 this year. I was already completely against the change, but reading some of these comments is a frightening eye-opener… Daniel’s remarks about teams possibly designing cars and employing race strategies based on winning at specific types of race tracks and conserving their efforts at other events is a worrying thought.

Why wouldn’t they do that? Makes sense. There’s no advantage to being a good all-rounder anymore. Fernando Alonso built a couple of thoroughly well deserved Championships on being there or thereabouts at every single event. He won when he could and made sure he came close otherwise. It was admirable consistency, and nobody could say the 2005 or 2006 Seasons were poor watches for it.

I for one think the 10-8-6 point system has worked brilliantly since it’s inception; the last four seasons have each been brilliant, and each one better than the one before for that matter! That makes the timing of this all the more baffling. I don’t think there’s any need to try and force better racing. It’s been very good at most races as it is, and you’re going to get the odd dull one under any points system.

A change to offer a bigger points gap between 1st and 2nd is something I could have understood (the FOTA’s 12-9-7 proposal probably being about right), but my words and opinions, just like yours, mean nothing to the fools that get to make these decisions.


James you worded it far better than I could have. Barely a week before I fly down to Melbourne I feel like the FIA have given some of us a ‘cold shower’. I preferred the FOTA points system and am skeptical about the FIA system, but it probably won’t change my enjoyment of the weekend though.


Finn (again) – why are people so averse to change or at the very least giving something a trial run?

Where are all the complaints about the new regs? People aren’t averse to change at all. They are averse to unnecessary change, they are averse to the wrong changes being made, they’re averse to changes being made as part of some FIA/Ecclestone power play.

You like the new points system, or seem to – great, good for you. Don’t dismiss those who don’t as nothing more than luddites fearful of change when they are every bit as entitled to a view on the new system as you are and in most cases have constructed strong arguments to back up their view.


Finn – At least be open minded and mature enough to see how the system works out …. it MIGHT be the best thing that has ever happened in F1, but the Luddites are just so scared of change.

What nonsense. No-one is scared of change, I think everyone acknowledged there needed to be a change to the points system. People simply don’t like this one, an overwhelming majority of people, and they are completely entitled to do so.


– One more thing; it will result in more spirited driving, no doubt. But wouldn’t the 12-9-7 system do the same due to the added incentive of more points?


Here’s a quote from Jamie Hibbard on I was thinking about this and couldn’t figure out the math in my head, but he did:

“…should driver A take four first places, and then stay in bed for the rest of the season, and no other driver get the same amount of firsts, then driver A could theoretically win from under his duvet. An extreme example, I know, but still plausible.

So even if driver B gets second place at every race – or 136 points under the old/current system – that counts for nothing. Under this new system, gung-ho driving seems to be rewarded, rather than consistently good driving.”

So Brawn could have Button win 6 races in his fast car in the first half of the season and then due to their limited budget and inability to keep developing have an “engine failure” for the rest of the races. And win the championship.

As I said earlier on this site, Bernie needs to hurry up and die.


I think I can understand Ecclestone’s reasoning: these changes might well introduce more exciting racing at the front of the pack. But what will the effect be upon drivers who aren’t in contention for winning places? Granted, they will still be ranked upon the points they win, but without 1st place finishes they will effectively be racing in their own league. Although we can’t really tell who the major players will be this season (or how many of them there will be), these measures seem to disenfranchise solid, dependable yet unexceptional drivers; figures like Glock, Trulli, Piquet, Kovalainen and Heidfeld, if they continue true to their previous form, will be racing solely for constructors points (or in the case of the latter two, perhaps acting as wingmen for their team-mates).

Obviously it is unlikely that drivers such as these stand little to no chance of winning a title under any system, but these changes seem to raise this barrier to a far greater height. Furthermore, I am sure that many will agree that some of the tactical nuances of F1 make it what it is; the twist of finding Kubica at the head of the standings mid-season last year was really enjoyable, even if his series of result prior to his victory weren’t actually that interesting.

Also: why now? Five years of Schumacher dominance saw an alteration to the points system and a movement to V8 engines. The past two seasons have arguably been the best this century, and as a consequence it has been deemed necessary to change everything! The anti-Ferrari conspiracy theorists must be having a fit right now…


Finn – I completely agree- let’s see what happens. Bit annoyed they introduced it this year as it’s already looking tasty, and has the potential to ruin things…but when and if it flops, we’ll go back.

I like totally points systems in motorsport in general – for instance Nicky Hayden’s 2006 MotoGP champ win wouldn’t have happened under this a similar system, and Kimi wouldn’t have come so close in 2003 ….

…and I’m certain this will yield adverse results as others have described where pretty early we’ll have teams subtley imposing team orders to ensure the chap who’s already 2 ahead of his teammate on wins wins again. Intriguing that its Ferrari who this will in all probablity be hit most really, when everyone things it helps them just because of last years (now irrelevant as the system was different) result.

For now, sit back and see what happens. Everyone has to change their mindset so we’ll see how they all react.


What about reliability? Teams may built engine to work for one race only. On the other hand I would not respect champion who collected 61 points while second driver earned 75 points. The new rule benefits the clear leader teams like McLaren or Renault. What about the rest teams with equal drivers? It is a fair sport from now on?


To be honest I quite like this idea, especially considering that Brawn will be potentially very strong in the first three flyaway races. Go Jens! He deserves to be champion, and this system will make the most of their intial advantage over the other teams (if that advantage of a second a lap quicker is real in race conditions) Jens could get the title wrapped up nice and early. ooh I can’t wait!! only a week away now!!


I find it very interesting that the FIA propose system that will encourage aggressive overtaking (which we all want at the end of the day) yet offer little or no explanation as to how the stewards feel about all this. After all of their controversial race changing decisions in the last couple of years, I thought they were trying to cut down their workload by scaring the drivers that if their maneuver isnt 100% perfect, error free (and they are not driving a red car) then they WILL get penalised!
In all seriousness, the stewards will now have unbelievably dangerous and influential powers unless we have clear, concise, consistent rulings. Losing 1st to a ten second penalty was bad enough,now it could instantly lose you a championship.
(As a side note I am sure the stewards wont want this responsibility so it should be in their interests to get down some sort of code of practice?)

Martin Hathaway

I don’t like the decision, but what really bugs me is the way it was made. Bernie needs to be more honest about what most people want and not simply bulldoze through his own ideas, and Max just the same!


Possibly the best thing about the FIA adopted system is that it will adequately reward race wins that are achieved through a head-to-head battle.

In my view these are the most meaningful, think of:
Mansell at France/Silverstone 87 and Hungary 89, Senna at Suzuka 89 (forget the DQ) and Hungary 91, or else Damon Hill at Suzuka 94.

In most of these cases the championship reward was the difference between first and second in the points (ie. 3 or 4). Yet these wins were more meaningful than simply when one championship rival won and the other had mechanical breakdowns. I’ll cherish that victories won eyeball-to-eyeball will count as much this year!


Why can’t people move on?

They want the BBC back. They want Murray Walker back (in an ideal world). The want The Chain back. They don’t want the points system to change, etc, etc, etc ….. why are people so averse to change or at the very least giving something a trial run?

Why are people so against the winner actually winning?

Why are people so keen to have a second rate but consistent driver crowned WDC?

Change happens people. Sometimes its good and sometimes its bad. But at least it is worth trying – or you’re just going to end up with an F1 that is stale and boring and dead and stuck forever in 1982.

Give it a season and if it is a total flop, then change it back or change it to something else. But at least have an open mind and see how teams/drivers actually adapt to the rules. You never know, you might actually like what you see!


I totally agree with Tim! However, I see a Silver lining for McLaren if they aren’t going to be competitive at the start of the season with the new points system. The wins system will allow them time to get the car up to winning speed then still win the championship with lower points but more wins than anyone else! COME ON LEWIS & MACCA!!


Not really a comment on this story but two things: one, to say again, James this blog is absolutely fabulous. There really is no other stream of up-to-date, “insider”, intelligent, non-sensational F1 info out there. Thanks.

Second, I genuinely hope you can find a way to get paid for this otherwise I am worried this blog will slowly wither as you put energies towards other (paid) occupations.


I am not a fan of the ‘most wins is champion’ idea. In a very open season a driver could be brilliant for 2 or 3 races and then dreadful for the remaining 14 and yet end up champion. A nonsense.

I think the FIA are missing the point here – however they decide who is champion, as long as refuelling and tyre change strategies remain in F1 then overtaking will still largely happen in pit lane rather than on the track. If they are serious about improving the racing then strategic pit stops must be banned.


Points systems are just systems and the drivers will drive to them. However, what I’d like to know is if the FIA are intending to change the appeals procedure to account for this change. We cannot have a situation like we did after Spa were a team is not allowed to appeal a stewards decision when it cost a driver the win – it is no longer just a time penalty as it’s tantamount to disqualification under the new system.


A dominant year is a dominant year, but they are fortunately relatively [rare].

Yes, in the last two years, the championship would have gone to the wire, but the races themselves would have been much less interesting. The most exciting aspect of those finales in Brazil was Lewis’s position. It was a foregone conclusion on both occasions that Raikkonen and Massa respectively were going to win those races. In my view, this rule change will actually encourage less overtaking – why should Lewis have bothered to have gothimself up to that fifth place when the championship was a lost cause. There are plenty of classic season finales that would never have gone to the wire – off the top of my head I can think of 2003, 1996 and 1994.

In any case, why should a driver on a day when his car is not the best on that particular day, when he has the best car at half the other races, bother to get up to second? I think you will find that this will produce a lot less overtaking.


So in a sense consistency no longer matters – a team could optimize the design of their car for a limited number of tracks (high downforce for example), score 4 runaway wins at those circuits & score nothing everywhere else & still pick up the driver’s crown..

I suppose this also plays into Mclaren’s hands to a degree as it gives them much more time to sort their car. If Felipe wins the first race & Kimi the second, they’re still very much in the championship. It’s like we’re going back to the days of only the best 11 scores count.


In december or so did put a vote on the medals system and the results are still not public i like to see the result of that vote!


Is there anyone at the FIA that we, the fans, can email about this change expressing our unhappiness with the decision James?


One of the reasons given for changing the points system is to give drivers a better incentive to win races, rather than settle for a safe second or third. But is this actually an enormous problem? Since the end of the turbo era, only twice has the driver who has won the most races in any given year but not also won the title. Those were Ayrton Senna (beaten by Alain Prost) in 1989 and Felipe Massa (beaten by Lewis Hamilton) in 2008 – but Prost and Hamilton would surely have played things differently had the title been decided by who won the most races.

Another reason for the change (given on the news this morning by Bernie) is that it’s possible for a driver to win the championship without winning a single race. This is true, but in nearly 60 years of F1 it has never happened. The closest we’ve ever come (to the best of my knowledge) was Keke Rosberg in 1982, who won only once on route to the title – but ’82 was an extraordinary year and no one won more than two races. There have been some instances (Piquet in 1987) of drivers who have been happy to cruise and collect to win championships. But the last twenty years haven’t yielded a single occasion where that approach has succeeded – even in 2005 Fernando Alonso won as many races as Kimi Raikkonen and would still have won under the new system. However, we have seen several years where one driver or team has dominated – Mansell in 1992, Prost in 1993, Schumacher in 1994-95, Williams in 1996, Schumacher and Ferrari from 2001-04. The new system would probably have seen the title being decided even earlier in those years.

One other big disadvantage of the new system will be that drivers who maximise their results in a car that isn’t the best won’t have a hope in hell of challenging for the title. Last year Robert Kubica was in contention until the penultimate race. Kubica delivered a season-long campaign that was arguably than Hamilton or Massa by getting the most from his equipment at every opportunity. Anyone who thinks that Kubica could have simply upped his game to win a few more races is fooling themselves. A driver doing a similarly good job in 2009 won’t have a chance of taking the title, no matter how many points he scores. Kimi Raikkonen in 2003 and Heinz-Harald Frentzen in 1999 are other memorable examples of drivers who have shone despite their equipment. The new system means that a Kubica-style title challenge is now impossible.

In a way, the new system for deciding which driver becomes world champion won’t have much of an impact – recent history shows that the best way to be sure of winning the title is to win more races than anyone else. But we do lose the possibility of a title charge by a dark horse and there’s a greater risk that one driver will secure the title earlier in the season. Essentially, we appear to be trying to solve a theoretical or perceived problem rather than an actual one and losing some of the best aspects of F1 in the process.


Now that the points system is geared more towards the top finishers and with the ban on testing. Are the back portion of the field, going to abandon racing sometime about race mid point and just get in some track testing time? If you’re not in contention for some points, why not just use the time to test new parts?
That’s really going to help the show if a third of the field aren’t racing.


So what you’re saying James, is that most of the fans that have participated in the polls you’ve looked at are against the decision.

What I would like is for Bernie’s team to put this poll up on the official F1 website, then we can see what the fans really want.

The FOTA did their homework on this one, the FIA and FOM did their homework as well, but have got it all wrong and need to go back to class.


A positions table like this is going to be a nightmare:

After 10 races:

1st Raikonnen (4 wins) 43 points
2nd Hamilton (3 wins) 48 points
3rd Alonso (2 wins) 68 points


this is a pathetic attempt by the FIA to show FOTA who is in charge. the extended points are all that’s needed.

this dumbing down of F1 is typical of the short term plan of misguided tyrants desperately hanging on. it’s dumbing down to a level totally fitting to max mosely. trying to bring in the one-off casual viewer and ignoring the hardcore following.

so now consistency and finishing every race, pulling an uncompetitive car into third place, the midfield battle – none of this matters? they are worried about not fielding enough cars, but now only 3 teams matter anyway!! the must-win approach is totally at odds with 3 race engines and 4-race gearboxes, and it adds unecessary complication to a system that worked well in the first place. who complained about the points system of last year, during the final laps of Brazil? not even massa.

(as for italians deciding on politics – enough said).


Why oh WHY is everyone going on about if the new points/medal system had been used last season then Massa would have won!? What a STUPID thing to say, who could say who would have one as McLaren and Lewis would have raced according to the points system to win the championship! All teams adopt tactics depending upon what is needed to win the championship based on the points system, hence the reason the FIA have changed it as they think it will ensure teams/drivers go for the win. The points FOTA idea would have resulted in the same though.

Overall, I don’t like it! It was shaping up to be a classic season and now if one team is more dominant they can wrap up the title early, like in the bad old Schmi days! I’d much prefer the FOTA points system as this is more fair, rewarding drivers with more points for winning but enabling teams to have a better opportunity to catch up if they are behind in the championship. It feels like the FIA have just crushed all FOTA and the fans ideas in one fell swoop, Mosley exerting his authority in a robust way again over the sport!


Forget the dominant year senario because the championship is done and dusted under any system in that case.

However, podiums (historically viewed as a good achievement) become nearly worthless. This means all the brilliant 2nd place drives we’ve seen in the past (e.g. Schumacher when he was stuck in 5th gear) go unrewarded. Also, penalties like an engine change will ruin someone’s weekend when in the past it was still possible to recover a decent points scoring position, now there is little incentive. Also, heaven forbid, we might see a repeat of Austria 02 because its definitely not in a teams interest for no.2 drivers to take wins off no.1 drivers.


If Massa or Raikkonnen for example wins two early races to his team mates’ two, or even three second place finishes, the team will throw their weight behind one driver much much earlier than they other might have done, this has to be bad for racing.

Do you think Piquet or Kovi will be allowed to go for wins this season? Not a chance.

Do you think a Championship chasing driver who has a bad quali or an early problem in a race will bust a gut to battle back from the back of the field in the hope of picking up a few precious world championship points? Or will they cruise round or even park it in the garage to save their engine for the next race?

I think this new system could have the opposite effect to what is intended.


Should teams now design cars to guarantee wins at a smaller number of tracks, and just turn up at the rest?

Rather than make an excellent all-round car, teams could, for example, create an amazing low-downforce car that will win on five tracks and be utterly rubbish at the others: it wouldn’t matter as the five wins would get the championship. They would literally just have to turn up at the other races and drive around in last place, saving their engines for the fast races.


It’s interesting that the FIA said they would only adopt Bernie’s medals system on the basis of positive fan feedback, yet despite what I understand was an overwhelmingly negative response they’ve gone ahead and adopted what is essentially the same system anyway.


I’m not in favour of the new system (I think 12-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 is much more sensible), but as Finn says, there have been a lot of toys thrown out of a lot of prams since the announcement was made!

Many have said that drivers not in with a chance for the win will pull into the garage to save engines and gearboxes for the next race. This is obviously tosh – points are still points, and every single one will still count if the championship leaders are tied for wins at the end of the season, not to mention the Constructor’s Championship. And it will potentially promote the kind of wheel banging racing we saw Hamilton and Raikkonen engage in at Spa.

I remain to be convinced however – it seems like an artifice to improve the ‘show’ to me, like re-fueling – but I’m happy to be converted if the racing improves.


Finn, do you think that the titles of Piquet and Keke Rosberg are undeserved? I don’t. I think that consistency should be as important as winning.


The big worry is that, if there is no dominant team this season, we could have the wins divided between 6 or more drivers.

This means that we could have a WDC champion with as few as 3 wins!


The results of that Gazzetta poll feel more odd every time I think about them. Fact is, I just don’t believe that Italians see the world quite so differently from the rest of the world. One might expect a variance of 10%-15% at best between their respondents and those of Marca, but not the chasm presented by these numbers.

And I take into consideration the Italian fans’ passion for Ferrari, their annoyance at losing last year’s title so dramatically, and their fear that anything that might bruise Ferrari-Fiat will eventually translate into lost jobs around the land.

So, is it the way they ask their questions or the way they count the numbers? Perhaps you could get one of their correspondents to explain, James.


Have you seen any examples of how the Drivers’ Championship table will be displayed? It was very easy to understand the existing method of a league table with your Schumachers and Hakkinens at the top and your Baumgartners and Friesachers at the bottom.

I suppose if Bernie’s new method is the success he hopes it will soon be adopted by other racing series like NASCAR and the IRL….

Tommy Karamintzas

I would like to agree with the new point system for all the reasons other people have stated! But, I think we have to wait and see, because FIA have shown all these years that they are Ferrari-friendly. This means that all the punishments will go Ferari’s way! And I Think we’re gonna have enough incidents this year….drivers will go for the win no matter what. I fear that the championship will be decided by the FIA and not the drivers on circuit.


I think many people are getting in a tizzy about the winner wins policy and are just being plain silly by saying that the sport has been ruined and that they are no longer looking forward to the season. That’s just people behaving like little kids who are rolling around on the supermarket floor screaming and crying and having an almighty self-destructive tantrum because their mummies won’t buy them a bar of chocolate.

At least be open minded and mature enough to see how the system works out …. it MIGHT be the best thing that has ever happened in F1, but the Luddites are just so scared of change.

Hamilton racing for fifth in Brazil was a mockery …. and the change in the rule would put an end to such shams in the future.

Open you minds and at least be prepared to see what the new system can bring.



That Italian poll is a waste of time.

‘We asked 100 Tifosi if they’d welcome a scoring system which would have given Ferrari a 2008 WDC (dodgy stewarding aside), and 50% said “yes” ‘

I’m surprised it’s as low as 50%.

I remain opposed to this change, but IF it heralds the end of processional 1-2s I reserve the right to be converted. 😉


Having had a night to think about it, I’m starting to change my mind about this winner-takes-all points system.

There have been a number of races over the last few years where drivers have collected the 8 pts or the 6 pts instead of going for the win – I seem to remember Alonso driving fairly steady to his first championship, when you had McLaren really going for the win (remember that tyre failure on the last lap in Germany?!).

You will still get drivers playing for points – if they’re 2nd, their rival is 3rd and the guy in 1st is not in the championship race then they may take the points – especially if they already have more wins and/or less points than their rival. BUT when it will make a difference is 1) early on in the championship and 2) when the main guys are 1st and 2nd… I would love to see 2nd place running his car up the inside in a ‘dan dare’ style move and either pulling it off or taking him out! N.B. The FIA are going to have to be more relaxed about contact/crashes etc.

It may make the championship less likely to go to the wire, but it should make the races much better! I’m with JA… we’ll have to wait and see!


Please explain why the teams don’t form their own series?

Presumably because they know that killed of thing annihilated open-wheel racing in America and they don’t want to do the same to F1.


“However a dominant year is a dominant year and the guy on top wins whatever the points system.”

This is so true. I like the new system, a bit “hybrid” of FOM and FOTA ideas. Would prefer FOTA idea, but still this ain;t that bad.

Drivers will not count points now, and drive safe in 5th place. They must fight for wins, and this is what this sport is about, right?

My only concern: eg,: now with this new system, driver A will be 2nd in general with 3 wins and 60 points, and driver B will be 3rd with 5 wins and 50 points. That’s not promoting winners, right?

Ofc in this case champion will have let’s say 5 wins and no points counts. But in further positions it might be a bit unfair.

All in all, i like the new system.


Please explain why the teams don’t form their own series?

In reality Bernie and Max are two over-grown children who care little for F1 and far too much about themselves. Staying with Bernie and Max results in constant and arbitrary upheaval, unprofessional management of just about everything (stewarding a prime example) and significantly LESS MONEY for the teams!

Why on Gods green earth are the FOTA subjecting themselves to this? The teams and the drivers ARE the show! They have it ALL in their own hands at any given moment! There are dozens of tracks and facilities around the world that would jump to host an FOTA organised race, so what do they want Bernie and Max for, who only bring this sport down and utterly waste the revenue (into Berni’s pocket) generated that could be spent on improving the show and making it profitable for the teams!

I really would like a sane answer to this question and I am sure I am not the only one!

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