The FIA World Council made some very significant decisions today and the one which is leading the news bulletins is the decision to ensure that the driver who wins the most races becomes world champion regardless of how many points he has scored.
The more significant move is the one to introduce a £30 million budget cap, which is a red rag to FOTA teams and which would effectively create a two class F1, but I’ll deal with that point in a later post.
I got the sense from responses to my blog when Bernie Ecclestone suggested medals as a way to decide the champion, that this was not a popular idea, but that the concept of rewarding the driver who wins most races was acceptable to many fans.
I have to say I agree with that.
The Teams’ association (FOTA) put forward a different suggestion, which stuck closer to the current system, but awarded the winner more points.
The FIA has adopted neither, but has essentially adopted the medals idea, just without the medals themselves! So Bernie has got what he wants, racers going for the lead come what may, even if the Melbourne winner will not be bowing his head on the podium to the premier of Victoria to get a big gold medal.
I think that using the existing points structure as the back up system in the event of a tied number of wins – which let’s face it is quite likely – is sensible. You may well end up with a championship table which shows the loser above the winner on points, but you had that in the old days when driver deducted scores from their tally and so on. There has never truly been one system since the start of the sport, so it’s not messing around with something sacrosanct.
I think this makes the role of the stewards even more acute, as Lewis Hamilton was docked a win in Spa last year and it went to Massa, which under this system would have given Massa the title. The stewarding process is to be more open and transparent this year, so that should help that situation a bit.
People will have many arguments against, I am sure, but this is quite a simple system which will have the desired effect of giving driver more incentive to make a pass for the lead of a race.
And it generates a LOT of publicity for the sport a week before the first race…