Home > Features > Archived Feature Articles: Ecclestone and the F1 scoring system

Archived Feature Articles: Ecclestone and the F1 scoring system

Following on from my previous posts, please find below one of the previous features I wrote very early on. More to follow :

Formula one racing turns to Olympic scoring for inspiration

Bernard Ecclestone, commercial rights owner to the Formula One racing brand, has announced his plans to challenge F1 scoring from its current points-based system to an Olympic-style system which would see rivals competing for Gold, silver and bronze medals, or first, second and third place respectively. The individual with the most wins at the end of the season would be awarded with the F1 ‘World Champion’ title.

The F1 Supremo, nicknamed as such by tabloid papers, appears to be confident that his suggestion would be backed by the powers that be, as highlighted by his statement to press on 26th November 2008: “It’s going to happen. All the teams are happy. The whole reason for this is I am fed up with people talking about there being no overtaking. The reason there is no overtaking is nothing to do with circuits or their cars”, commented Ecclestone, citing instead that the drivers wouldn’t attempt “going to take the risk of falling off the circuit” or do “something stupid to get two points” but that if a team “need a gold to win the championship” then they would be more prone to overtaking. Ecclestone is confident that the governing body of Formula One racing, FIA, as well as the World Motor Sport Council will accept his proposal on the grounds that it will be more exciting for the championship when it is presented as an agenda item in forthcoming meetings.

Edmund Jordan, founder of the Jordan Grand Prix, begs to differ, branding Ecclestone’s suggestions “a nonsense” in his statement: “He is tinkering with something on which he has lost the understanding,” and that “for him to say that it comes with the full approval of all the teams – I’m sorry, I just don’t believe it…He thinks only wins matter. The points are necessary. I was one of the team principals who advocated the points should go down to eighth place because one point is as important to those teams as a win is to McLaren and Ferrari.”
Jordan is not alone in his criticism against the move and it is believed the plan will place unnecessarily risk to the drivers. Professor Steffen Huck, Economics lead at UCL, commented on 30th November 2008 that whilst the plan may make for a more exciting competition, the change would almost certainly create unnecessary risk to drivers as result, running up costs to vehicles and involving higher levels of maintenance: “We have already seen this incentive operating in the opposite direction when the new points system was introduced in 2003.” Professor Huck is referring to 2003, when a new points system was introduced to prolong the championship as the Governing body were concerned that Michael Schumacher and Ferrari were ‘dominating the sport’.

Additionally, if the plan is to go ahead, winners may be determinable without competing the season, so Eccestone’s ‘excitement incentive’ as reason for governing bodies to accept the proposal appears to be false. After all, what could be more exciting than not knowing who could possibly win up until the very last moment of a season. Take this last season, for instance. Had it been operating under the proposed system, Brazilian driver, Felipe Massa would have been crowned ‘champion’, having won six races to Lewis Hamilton’s five. In fact, go back in racing history and many drivers who had won the title would not have been so fruitful, had Ecclestone’s proposal been in place at that time. The biggest loser of all would have been Nelson Piquet who would not have won any of his titles.

However, speculation suggests the proposal will likely be vetoed by FIA and the World Motor Sport Council.

FIA and the World Motor Sport Council will be making their deliberations in the near future.

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