The argument against championship points (III)

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Bruno Spengler, Heinz-Harald Frentzen, DTM, 2006I’ve twice written about why I think championship points should be dropped, and the championship winner decided simply by who has the most wins.

For a few more examples of why this is a good idea let’s take a look at two other championships from last year that use the same 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 scoring system as F1. They are the World Touring Car Championship and German Touring Car Championship (DTM).

The DTM would have had a different champion had the title been awarded to the driver who had scored the most wins.

Let’s start off by looking at the top three finishers in the DTM arranged by the quality of their results rather than the number of points they scored.

2006 German Touring Car Championship (DTM)

DriverNew rank123Real rankPoints
Bruno Spengler1410263
Bernd Schneider2241171
Tom Kristensen3222356

Bruno Spengler, DTM, Mercedes, 2006Bruno Spengler lost the championship to Bernd Schneider by eight points – despite winning twice as many races as his rival.

Had the title been awarded to the driver who had won the most races we could well have seen a more exciting season. Schneider, instead of settling for second place and a safe eight points in four races, would have been forced to keep charging for wins to beat Spengler.

2006 World Touring Car Championship (WTCC)

DriverNew rank123Real rankPoints
Andy Priaulx1510173
Jorg Muller2420272
Augusto Farfus3321364
Yvan Muller4133462

Andy Priaulx, BMW, WTCC, Macau, 2006Although our new ranking system would not have changed the order of the top four, it would have made Andy Priaulx a more emphatic champion.

Instead of only winning the title by a single point, a poor reflection of how well he drove compared to his rivals in 2006, he would have been champion directly because he won more races than anyone else.

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These two examples show very clearly the problems with using points systems to award race finishes in a championship situation: it encourages drivers to race conservatively and back off from taking wins in favour of ‘safe points’, and it under-rewards drivers who win races.

Throughout motor sport a myriad of different points systems are used to reward race finishes in different championships.

I’m not convinced that any of them are better than the simple solution of awarding the championship to the driver who has the most best finishes. But I’ll look at this area of discussion later on.

And, of course, I’m very interested to know what you think…

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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7 comments on “The argument against championship points (III)”

  1. I’ve said before that I don’t think this system would punish a failure to finish enough, but I do see your point that wins are not valued enough. I think the problem would be more effectively solved by making a win worth more points. A gap of only two between 1st and 2nd is just not enough. Even back when the gap was 4 in F1 I wondered whether it was enough (although then only the top 6 got points anyway). What do you think of making a win worth, say, 14 points instead of 10?

    Also, I don’t think that the point system is always fair in the constructors championship because right now having your cars finish 2-3 is more valuable than one car winning. The win should be worth at least as much as the 2-3 finish.

  2. It’s a tough subject, but as jtm said you need to increase the gaps between first and second. However I don’t think the team that wins the race should automatically get the most points. A soccer team with a great attack but horrible defence won’t always beat a team with decent attack and defence.

    F1 is a team sport and having both cars at the pointy end should be rewarded.

    This is roughly the system I would go with: 20-15-11-8-4-3-2-1 with a point for pole and fastest lap. Theres enough gaps between the top places that theres a big incentive to have a go, atm the gap between 1 and 2 is two points, so passing him isn’t that important if you’re fighting for the championship (a 4 point turn around) but this way it’s 10 points up for grabs!

    A point for pole is good as it makes qualifying more interesting, but you’d have to drop the ‘carry race fuel’ mode from qually 3. A point for fastest laps means theres incentive to push even after the final stops!

  3. I’m not keen on the complexity of having a point for pole and fastest lap.

    With getting a point for pole you could end up having a championship decided in a qualifying session, which wouldn’t be very good. (But I definitely agree with getting rid of race fuel qualifying!)

    And by giving a point for fastest lap you could end up with the situation you had in GP2 this year where lewis Hamilton won the title after Giorgio Pantano has his fastest lap taken off him.

    In terms of ‘having both cars at the pointy end’ I think the ‘most best wins’ system works perfectly. In fact it would have made Ferrari Constructors’ Champions instead of Renault last year precisely because they scored more wins and second places (see here http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2006/10/12/places-not-points-revisited/).

  4. Why is that good though? Renault were more consistant through the year, their highs weren’t as high but their lows weren’t nearly as low. Isn’t that the point of the championship? Being consistant all year long? Points reflect that.

  5. I’m not too sure about that. If we had a driver or team that dominated the races then the lesser competitors might give up. That would not do the sport any good at all.

  6. Has a point for pole been tried before or am I dreaming?

  7. Remember Formula One 2002 season? Schumacher won ALMOST ALL races. Like @Psychic said, if there’s a dominant driver who wins much more often than others, then the championship is mathematically decided many races before the end. In fact that did happen anyway, due to a scoring system that privileged excessively the winning driver. If that season had had a more equalitarian system, Schumacher would have still mathematically won before the end, but at least that would have occurred a bit later. So THAT is what we need: points for the maximum amount of drivers and a small difference of points between positions. In fact I would do it the following way: if there are 20 cars, I would give 20-19-18-17-16… and so on, so even the last one gets at least one point. If there are 22 cars, 22-21-20-19-18 etc. This would be based on the number of cars per season, not per race, so if one particular race has fewer cars (for example 18) due to any reason (mechanical failure, disqualification or whatever), the scoring system would be kept unaltered and still give 20 or 22 points to the winner and the rest in a linear descending order one by one.

    Some people who defend giving victory a great reward say that this way the driver in second position will fight harder for the victory rather than sitting in a “safe” second position, but this is just bullshit because we all know that F1 races aren’t close duels in which two drivers fight hand to hand for the first position, but just parades in which cars are dozens of seconds away from each other, and if you are in second position with the first one half a minute ahead of you, then no matter how hard you try and how big the reward for winning will be, you won’t be able to do anything but just hope that something happens to the first one (like breakdown or going off the track). There’s a difference between stimulating fights and just making the strong one stronger, and clearly this is the second case.

    And @Keith and your complaint about Andy Priaulx winning WTCC by only one point: isn’t it exciting when there’s such equality and you don’t know who will win the championship until the very end?

    @LoudHoward I would NEVER give points to pole position: starting the race from the first position is already a big privilege so we shouldn’t increase it even more.

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