Bernie Ecclestone is right: ‘Gold medals’ would make F1 more exciting

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Lewis Hamilton would have a harder job at Interlagos if I was in charge...

It’s that time of year when we look ahead to the final round try to figure out who needs to finish where to win which championship.

Long-time readers of this site know I don’t think very much of points systems and think they should be scrapped.

Bernie Ecclestone thinks so too, and when you look at how close this year’s championship would be if we did I think it’s hard not to agree.

Here’s the championship situation as it currently stands:

Lewis Hamilton 94
Felipe Massa 87

Explaining all the permutations by which the drivers’ title might be resolved next week is rather complicated. And if you want a real headache, try doing the same for the constructors’ championship. And when there’s more than two drivers or teams involved it gets quite painful.

Bernie Ecclestone recently repeated as suggestion of his (which he first brought up years ago) that the F1 championships should do away with points and mimic the Olympics’ medals leaderboard instead. So the drivers’ championship would instead look like this:

Lewis Hamilton523
Felipe Massa522

Now that would make things a lot more straightforward: whichever driver wins the final race wins the title. Were Massa to finish third with Hamilton outside the top three, then fourth places could be used to determine the champion, then fifths and so on.

This isn’t as radical a proposal as you might think. In fact this exact system would be used to determine the champion were the two to end the year tied on points. So why not just dump points to begin with and make the whole thing easier?

One of the usual responses to this suggestion is that prioritising wins in this way would do too little to reward consistency.

But do we really want to reward consistency as much as we do now? I found watching Lewis Hamilton site behind David Coulthard for lap after lap at Singapore because he didn’t want to risk a safe six points rather tedious. In my scenario he’d have been 4-5 down to Massa on wins and I bet he’d have been pushing rather harder to pass Coulthard.

We need to give drivers the maximum incentive to push for wins. Simply boosting the winners’ points haul to 12 or more isn’t enough. Racing to win is the essence of F1 and the championship structure should reflected that.

That’s my opinion anyway, and I’ll continue to hold it until someone convinces me otherwise. Over to you…

Here are some earlier articles where I’ve made the same argument, with examples from past F1 seasons and other championships:

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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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72 comments on “Bernie Ecclestone is right: ‘Gold medals’ would make F1 more exciting”

  1. schumi the greatest
    22nd October 2008, 13:20

    would be intresting to see what the top 6 of the championship would be like if f1 used your system.

    presumably alonso would be ahead of kubica, and vettel ahead of heidfeld??

  2. Cameron aka. SkinBintin
    22nd October 2008, 13:21

    I agree with you on this one. A medal tally, rather than points, would make things so much more interesting. Perhaps this really is something F1 management need to look into. Are/have there been any Motorsport championships that work with a medal style tally rather than points?

  3. The problem is that to alter the system so radically would represent a serious break with the history of the sport. Yes, the present system can be complex at times, especially at this time of the year, but the system proposed here would not really make it any simpler to the casual observer. F1 is a complex sport – and we should beware of dumbing it down too much. Whilst there is something about the simplicity of the ‘medal table’ concept that is appealing, it also devalues any position outside of the top three – which is not right. I actually do think that in these days of high reliability it was the right decision to aware points down to eighth place – it gives the smaller teams something to fight for and something ‘tangible’ to show for their efforts.

    I think that generally the right driver becomes champion, it would be hard to say that any driver who has won the championship is undeserving – though there are isolated cases (’58 and ’87 spring to mind) where a driver who genuinely deserved the title failed to secure it.

    Fact is, once again we have a close championship – being fought out at the last race of the season. I’m not complaining.

  4. Once again we have a close championship – being fought out at the last race of the season. I’m not complaining.

    But is that because of or in spite of the current system? Under ’91-02 points Massa would only be five points behind Hamilton. I think the ‘gold medal’ system would keep some championship battles alive longer – it would have in ’05, for example – and be fairer.

  5. How will the Constructors Championship work in this case? I assume the points system in use now would still apply?

    The big issue here is rewarding drivers who don’t have cars that can contend for podiums, never mind wins. How do we reward good performances from them? While we can look at the number of 4ths, 5ths, 6ths, and so on, it’s much more difficult to look at it than a consolidated points system.

    Also, if a driver is dominant in the first half of the season and wins the first 9 out of 17 races, then the title race is over by round 9. But what if a completely different guy dominates and wins the next 8 races? It wouldn’t mean anything anymore: he can’t be champion because he can’t beat the other guy’s win total.

    I say: continue using a points system. Add more points for a win (from 10 to 12 in the current system), but that’s it, no other changes.

  6. How will the Constructors Championship work in this case? I assume the points system in use now would still apply?

    No reason why it would have to – just use the same system.

    The big issue here is rewarding drivers who don’t have cars that can contend for podiums, never mind wins. How do we reward good performances from them?

    The current system doesn’t do that very well either – look at the Force India drivers for example.

  7. The current system doesn’t do that very well either – look at the Force India drivers for example.

    But at least the current system rewards the Williamses and Hondas (and before their recent renaissance, the Toro Rossos) of the world; the gold medal system wouldn’t do that anywhere near as well.

    Which also explains why a WCC will not work with a medal system. If, as has happened in 2000, only Ferrari and McLaren win, it would be pretty hard to track who’s 3rd on down in the WCC.

  8. I guess to work that out we’d have to go back through the results of previous seasons and work out how the championships would have wound up! While I’d have loved to see the ’05 championship go on for longer, Kimi and McLaren did conspire to throw away an awful lot of big points – for which the championship standings punished them. I’m not sure that’s unfair. What I do think is unfair at the present moment is that without a ridiculous penalty at Spa Massa wouldn’t be going into the last race with a sniff of the title. Lewis would be 11 points clear – with six wins to Massa’s five. And all of this would be academic.

    I normally agree with you Keith – so I’m not being difficult for the sake of it! I just think of all the things that need addressing in F1 this is probably one of the last on the list. I also think that in the last few years we have enjoyed some fantastically exciting races and championships and that all of this talk over a lack of entertainment is rather overblown.

  9. the medal table system is surely a much better and clearer way of settling the upper echelons of the championship, however it does little to encourage the lower teams for whom picking up a point or two from 7th or 8th is a big deal – was this not the reason that post-’02 the points sytem was changed to include 7th and 8th?
    if you extend the ‘medals’ table down to 8th to counter this you simply end up re-complicating your system with the added factor of working out who has what 6ths/7ths/8ths etc.

    it also opens a whole kettle of fish regarding the constructors championship which is a measure of reliabilty and consistency as well as all out pace.

    i have to say, i think the current system is working well for the sport.

  10. Why is this not a points system?

    If you consider only 3 places (assuming no more than 9 races in the reason).

    1. First place gets 100 points.
    2. Second place gets 10 points.
    3. Third place gets 1 point.

    If you consider up to 20 places.
    1. First place gets 10^20 points (10^20 is 10 to the power 20).
    2. Second place gets 10^19 points
    20. Last place gets 1 point.

    They are all points system. The question is how you distribute the points.

  11. I think it should be like golf.

    Come the end of the year, you add up your race-finishing positions.

    Lowest score wins.

  12. I like the idea, it definitely gives more incentive for a driver to push for the win. However at the moment only 3 or 4 teams are actually able to win races on a regular basis so as others have said, it seems a little unfair on the lower teams.
    If next years regs make it easier to over-take (which would give the lower-down teams a more realistic chance of getting near the front) then your medal system could work, but if it’s the same as this year then it would only work for the top teams.

  13. keepF1technical
    22nd October 2008, 14:30

    it would be easy enough, and still simply to follow, to have a table with top 8 places. Medals for the top three… peanuts for 4th-8th but atleast they are on the table (a top 8 place currently is only relevant to get your transport costs paid for by FOM i belive).
    Also i think Bernie has shown previously that it wouldnt change any of the recent champions. I would love to see the retrospective medals table… Keith, one for your stats pages…
    The last driver to settle for consistent 2nds was Alain ‘the professor’ Prost because he didnt want to risk anything. Meanwhile Mansell went kamikaze for everything and was amazing to watch.
    I know which i prefer… so bring on the medals and lets see no-holds-barred racing.

  14. It’s a very neat idea Keith. Would certainly remove any tendency among top drivers and teams to play the numbers game….but….

    In the harsh economic situation we are heading into at the moment ( and today’s news is even more scary ! ) many of the current teams will be operating on the edge of a financial abyss over the next several years. Some are not going to be able to avoid falling to destruction. It’s going to get very nasty out there.

    And to remove even the slim rewards of an occasional win or podium finish from these vital components of what F1 is supposed to be about will often be just enough to tip some very worthwhile and potential first-class teams over the edge. Like refusing dried crusts to a starving man.

    It’s a very dangerous premise in late 2008.

  15. Aj, as I’m bored I worked out what the championship would look like with the “golf” scoring from the results on Wikipedia. With a retirement being 20th position. Here’s the top 5 (as long as I haven’t made any mistakes):

    1.Hamilton 90
    2.Heidfeld 107
    3.Kubica 107
    4.Massa 116
    5.Alonso 141

    That would mean Hamilton would have pretty much wrapped up the championship, only having to finish 18th or higher to take it.
    Kubica is below Heidfeld because he’s had more retirements.

  16. I think the gap points difference between the positions should be greater… Something Like in MOTO GP. Cause now you can come First for 5 races and then Lose one race and lose your 10 point Advantage you had..

  17. Now you have explained the thinking I can see that the ‘medal’ approach would be quite a sensible and simple idea to work with.
    The positions do reflect all the way down the scale too, but you would need to cut off at 5th or 6th place or it would get too confusing for the press etc…
    So you could end up with a driver having:
    First 3, Second 2 Third 2 Fourth 0 Fifth 5 Sixth 2 Not Classified 1 DNF 2
    And it would just carry over into the Constructors Championship too, since no team can have two Firsts at the same race.
    I can see this as a way to make the drivers want to get a position and not just settle for points, which is what I want to see in a race, after all….

  18. I think its a great idea. Last week I mentioned that I was fed up with drivers being rewarded for mediocre results, and this may go someway to changing that.
    You are absolutely right Keith that the incentive should always be victory. I am embarrassed when I see a driver on the podium celebrating a third place finish as if he has just won the championship. True ‘drivers’ only celebrate winning, second is to be the first of the losers.

  19. In light of “Stewardship Irregularities” as recently experienced by nearly everybody irrespective of which team or driver you support, surely a points system as at present could absorb slightly more of these without adversely affecting the outcome of the season? Changing the motivation of drivers from sailing to safety as cited with Lewis in Singapore to perhaps a more focussed effort to gain a top three position for a medal may invigorate those races that tend to be rather processional. However, certain circuits would not necessarily be able to offer the overtaking opportunities required and the cars would also need an aerodynamic overhaul to be in place (as promised for 2009).

    Sometimes the worthy “Driver of the Day” may well not be one of the top three finishers and if scrapping rewards to the drivers from 4th place down, perhaps kudos could be provided to nominate one of the field for this accolade? Admittedly on some occasions this would fall to one of the top three in addition to their “medal”. Perhaps a tally of these could be considered should there be a tie?

    At the end of the day, the current system does not always provide rewards to the most deserving. Whether you go for points or medals, eight places, three places, fifteen places are all academic. Those with the best car and the best budget to create the best car and have a half decent person to drive it are going to be higher than those that don’t. What would be more entertaining is to have three, four or more manufacturers at that level than just two.

  20. Also, if a driver is dominant in the first half of the season and wins the first 9 out of 17 races, then the title race is over by round 9. But what if a completely different guy dominates and wins the next 8 races? It wouldn’t mean anything anymore: he can’t be champion because he can’t beat the other guy’s win total.

    That’s why I think you can’t have a medal table too.
    Win 9 out of 17 and then you can just stop. Championship over! Even if another driver came 2nd in each of those races and then won the remaining 8 he would never be champion.

    Plus, given the problem with overtaking, pole at Monaco would be even more important. Or are we assuming more riskier moves would be made?

    That leads onto, the current state of the stewards and issues drivers have with overtaking….

    But then Monaco is near the start of the season, so why risk a move then. Taking bigger risks at overtaking would only happen near the end of the season, like it is now.

  21. I fail to see what is so complicated about the present points system. It has worked for decades, almost always providing us with a worthy champion, and only requires one or two points more for a race win to make everyone happy.

    If you insist on an argument to persuade you that the medals system is completely unnecessary, Keith, let me ask you one question:

    Would you take away the championships of John Surtees and Keke Rosberg?

  22. Drivers Championship
    HAM 5 2 3
    MAS 5 2 2
    RAI 2 2 4
    ALO 2 0 0
    KUB 1 3 3
    KOV 1 1 1
    VET 1 0 0
    HEI 0 4 0
    ROS 0 1 1
    PIQ 0 1 0
    GLO 0 1 0
    TRU 0 0 1
    COU 0 0 1
    BAR 0 0 1

    Constructors Championship
    FER 7 4 6
    MCL 6 3 4
    REN 2 1 0
    BMW 1 7 3
    STR 1 0 0
    TOY 0 1 1
    WIL 0 1 1
    RBR 0 0 1
    HON 0 0 1
    FIF 0 0 0

    I hate the idea but that’s how it would look this year. It would throw up silly results like Renault ahead of BMW. STR ahead of Toyota. If Alonso had come home third in every race of the season (102 points) he’d finish behind Piquet (8 points).

  23. I preferred when the second place got 6 instead of 8…

  24. Clive – Drivers fighting for championships will always tailor their efforts to the parameters of the competition – precisely as we saw in Singapore with Hamilton this year. For example, some people complain that Prost ‘should’ have been champion in 1988 because he would have accumulated more points than Senna but for the ‘best 11 results count’ rule. But the fact is that rule was there, Senna knew it, and conducted his approach to the championship accordingly.

    If you ask me if, in principle, the driver with the best results should be champion, then of course I agree with that and the ‘gold medal’ system does a much better job of doing it.

    But should we go back a re-assign championships in accordance to new criteria? Of course not. That would be like the FIA coming up with a new definition of a driving standard and using it to retroactively strip a driver of a race win. Which would be appalling…

    Matt –

    If Alonso had come home third in every race of the season (102 points) he’d finish behind Piquet (8 points).

    You can come up with a ‘potential’ scenario to undermine any system – I think we have to ask ourselves how likely that scenario is.

  25. Keith –

    Of course, but I think the scenario’s afforded by this system are much worse than in the current (or old) points systems. Instead of Alonso finishing 3rd in all 17 races, let’s just say he finished 3rd in Singapore and Japan, which judging from his/Renault’s pace in these grands prix, would have been a reasonably accurate outcome had the races been ordinary. He would currently be 11th in the world championship, still behind his team mate, a team mate he heads in qualifying at a count of 16-0.

  26. I think this medal scoring system is too simplistic. A driver who has come second in all races should not lose to a driver who came first only once and didn’t finish the rest of the time.

    There is some merit to coming second. Less than coming in first, but it should not be overlooked almost entirely (only as a tie breaker when number of first places is the same).

    Points systems are there to rate performance as a whole. Basically just looking at wins is not a fair way to rate performance.

    I do think there should be more points difference between 1st and 2nd and then to third than there is now. Maybe back to how it was before?

    I also liked that drivers could drop one result in the nineties. This meant they can take more risk and if they spun, they could remove that score (or lack of score)

  27. It has just occurred to me that this would also be able to rate the ‘Fastest Laps’ and ‘Pole Position’ criteria as well, since a car which gets Pole doesn’t always win the race, or even finish, and a car which finishes 10th may have set the Fastest Lap. I for one want to see kudos given to those drivers as much as the top three finishers – otherwise it does not reflect the outcome of the race, and may add a little to the ‘Pedigree’ of the drivers. So a Drivers ‘Scorecard’ would have:
    1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th N/C DNF FL PP
    Which you see now I know, but it would mean more to everyone (including the driver)

  28. noo…
    it wud mean that only the winner takes it all…
    after the 3rd place what happens? wud be a little
    unjustified… from my pov

  29. I’m just going to paste my forum discussion post, minus the constructors championship as thats been discussed, as my opinion on this hasn’t changed. I’d rather see the win bolstered to 12 points or more than see the medal system awarded – that being said, I do want to see winners being awarded their due, and more fights for the lead where it actually matters:

    You could win a lot of races, but screw up quite often. Lets say you won the first 9 races out of 17 (entirely theoretical!), making it mathematically impossible for anyone else to get more wins, but royally screw up the rest of the 8 races, not even getting a Silver or Bronze. Is that the marque of someone we want to call champion? We do want some degree of consistency, right? I would still like to see someone, who has it all to lose, have that sort of pressure where they still need to get the job done. Nobody wants to see the championship wrapped up by the time Spa comes round, right?

    I’m still in favour of the points system, alot of sports work this way, and that there’s nothing wrong with it – it’s just F1 might not have it right. I’m in big favour of the old 6 points paying positions awarding 10-6-4-3-2-1.

    Bearing in mind a big reason why we have 8 points paying positions instead of 6 nowadays was because Schumacher and Ferrari were dominating too much, and this helped closed the deficit. Indeed, thanks to this points system the championship went down to Brazil last year, and at one point there were 4 Championship contenders at nearly half way through the season. However, it also meant there was much less incentive for being P1 – which is similar to the issue Bernie is talking about.

    What it does encourage is consistency, and this is perhaps what the medal system discourages – going for the most wins is certainly the goal everyone has, but on the days you can’t win sometimes it shows up a drivers abilities and psyche that they don’t really deserve to be champion?

    I think the points should be reverted back to 10-6-4-3-2-1, or if they were to keep the 8 points paying positions, then 12-8-6-5-4-3-2-1. I’m sure I’ve written this on one of the blog posts before as well. But I hate how someone can come first, and gain such little from he who came 2nd.

    F1 needs to address on awarding the winner their due. But not make it easy for them to wrap up a championship, at the same time.

  30. I dont mind the point system.
    I dont like the point system in motoGP or australian v8 supercars where u get a billion points for winning a race. It devalues the importance of a single point. And because of that i dont think the medals would work. Some of the great moments in f1 were when struggling teams grabbed a point. What are the rest of the teams racing for when medals are only rewarded to 1st 2nd and 3rd??

  31. Mussolini's pet cat
    22nd October 2008, 16:27

    the trouble with the medals system, is that if say Hamilton won every race up to the German GP (using this season as an example) & Massa fininshed 2nd in those first 10 races, then the season would effectively be over in July!

  32. I think it’s a bad idea keith. What about the other teams like Williams, Honda, Force India??

    And for someone who finish 4th or 5th it is very ‘cruel’ not to give him any points

    Also the point system and the trophies is a tradition , you cannot just replace it.It’s one of the few things which remain still good enaugh in F1

    *It would be better if the winner gains more points

  33. @10 It’s not a points system because in a medal system the number of nth places is only relevant if the number of n-1th places is tied. In a points system all ‘counted’ places are relevant, just with various weightings.

    I strongly prefer points. Most of the challenges listed by people can be solved by varying the weightings, I always liked the 10, 6, 4…. system and would prefer to see our current system changed to reflect the fact that finishing first over second should be worth more than finishing second over third.

    People sit on either side of this depending on how they answer this question:

    If a driver, A, wins one race and DNFs the other 17 and Driver B finishes second 18 times, who would you like to see become champion?

    If you answer A then you prefer the medal system, B, you prefer points.

    I think we have way too much emphasis on consistency but to say that we should go to the other extreme and reward Driver A (in my admittedly extreme example above) wouldn’t improve things.

    As I’ve said elsewhere on this site: 20, 15, 13, 12, 11….. would be OK by me, or double each one if you want to reward the winner even more but leave it as a points system, please.

    (One other advantage of the points system: It makes the championship table a lot easier smaller and and a lot smaller)

  34. I’m not saying people who finish below third should not be ranked, I just listed the top three places in the table above as an example.

    So for the drivers who have no firsts, seconds or thirds we look to who has the most fourths, then who has the most fifths and so on.

    Again, this is all allowed for in the current rules in circumstances were two drivers have the same number of points. For example, look at Vettel and Button’s positions in the championship last year: both had the same points, Vettel ranked ahead because his best finish was fourth, Button’s was fifth.

  35. @33 last line should read:

    championship table a lot easier TO READ and a lot smaller.

  36. Keith,

    I think a hybrid system would be best. In other words, count 1st, 2nd and 3 places only but assign weights. In my mind it is a lot more difficult to win a race than simply taking 2nd place. A race win is the altimate goal and as such, a 1st-place finish should be rewarded accordingly, as compared to a 2nd and 3rd place finish. This is precisely what I suggested in my letter to the FIA last year. It is true that in certain years it won’t really make a difference as to which system is used, but I would like F1 to stay on principle, and that is that a race win should carry a lot of weight towards winning the title. For example, with the current system, we almost had Lewis win the title last year w/ one less race win than Kimi, and if that happened I would have an issue w/ it, regardless of which driver stood to benefit or be on the other end of the deal.

  37. If they did switch to a medals system, does that mean McLaren will want to keep all those won by their drivers as well?

    They’ll be saving a hell of a lot of space storing medals.

  38. How about returning to the “best 11 results only” system? Under a 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 system with best 11 results only, I believe the pre-Interlagos table would be:

    LH: 88 points
    FM: 85 points

    Lewis has already had 11 finishes at 5th or better, so another 5th place or below would be worthless as it wouldn’t be one of his best 11 results. For him, 4th place in Brazil would gain him 1 point, 3rd – 2, 2nd – 4, and win 6 points. For Felipe, 5th in Brazil would gain him 1 point, 4th – 2, 3rd – 3, 2nd – 5, and a win 7 points.

    The only downside i see is that this is a slightly complicated for Joe Public. But the positives are that it makes the championship more exciting, incentivises drivers to push for higher places, and maintains a points system – thus reducing anomalies such as Renault beating BMW and STR beating Toyota.

    Under this system, if Massa were to win in Brazil, Lewis would need to finish second (as opposed to the 5th he currently needs) to be WDC.

    (I realise that if this had been the points system in place, drivers would have behaved differently all year and thus would probably not be on the same points as they are now, but the three advantages I specified remain valid.)

  39. I don’t know, the ‘medal’ system means that safety car produced results (step forward Renault) have an even bigger impact. Also the scrap for lower points would largely disappear.

  40. 21 – Clive – the voice of sanity. I couldn’t agree more.

  41. This medal table would be ideal for next year when presumably all vehicles are suppose to be running with similar engines.

    This points system was favoured because of the wild cards it produces esp those with inferior vehicles.

  42. I think it would be interesting to see how the metal system would have played out over the last 5-10 years in a points vs. medals chart of some type. Drivers actual racing for the WIN that’s a concept I can really appreciate. I for one am tried of seeing mediocrity rewarded day after day. Brazil has the potential to be a truly boring race where Hamilton can ride around the track listening to his ipod for 70 odd laps and take the title home. Assuming he doesn’t get punted off the track.

  43. i dont think there will ever be a points system that caters to all the aspects in racing without being overly confusing.

    i think this system is ok maybe they should add points for qualifying although some may argue that championships should not be won through qualifying points.

    very hard to please everyone. this current system is ok

  44. – bananaman’s system sounds interesting as well and would in theory promote more action on track as well.

  45. 12-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 sounds fine to me. And possibly a point for fastest lap, as in the 50s.

    I think a four point advantage for the winner, as used to be the case, is enough of an incentive to go for victory.

    Formula 1 fans – perhaps more than fans of any other sport – love statistics, comparing drivers/teams from different eras using a points system that has changed little in the 58 years of the championship. I think it would be a real shame to see any drastic changes to the championship system.

  46. “The problem is that to alter the system so radically would represent a serious break with the history of the sport.”

    Like dumping the Canadian GP? Or showing obvious favortisim towards Ferrari? Or playing “who bids the most” for events? Or fining a team 100M without actually proving wrongdoing?


  47. I usually agree with your ideas (banning re-fuelling etc.), but this doesn’t look like a good one to me, mainly because it would completely disregard anyone outside the top 3. Just looking of it from the perspective of someone who’s a fan of several drivers who haven’t had many chances to be on the podium this year, rewarding only first, second and third would seriously take the the joy out of watching what goes on beyond that. Of course there can be exciting battle outside the points as well, but where would be the motivation for drivers to fight for 5th instead of 9th let’s say, if neither position would give them any points?

  48. Keith’s system would not disregard anyone outside the top three. Drivers would be ranked in terms of their best finish – whatever that might be. If two drivers have the same best finishing position, then the number of times they finish in that finishing position would be the differentiator. If both finished in that position the same number of times, the second-best finishes of each driver would be used.

    So someone whose best finish in the year was fifth would rank ahead of all those who failed to finish fifth or better. So that fifth place would be worth something.

  49. Bananaman:

    So someone whose best finish in the year was fifth would rank ahead of all those who failed to finish fifth or better. So that fifth place would be worth something.

    So, in this year, Coulthard (who’s having what’s probably his worst season ever) would be ahead of Webber, or Piquet ahead of Alonso, had Singapore and Japan not occured. Or in last year Wurz would be ahead of Rosberg. It awards fluke results.

  50. It would be handy to compare the actual tables with a medals system table for each season to see how it would have changed things.

    I’m warming to the idea myself. One of my reservations was the “what if someone wins the first 9?” question, but in history when has this happening not meant the championship was over half way through the season albeit not officially? In the cases where there has been one driver dominating, how far into the season were they officially confirmed as champions? And when would they have been if you ignored their team mates points (Patrese in 92, or Barrichello)? Latterly, I’d suspect not too much after the half way point.

    Also, I don’t see why the lower place finishers are being left out. How about if you only rank 1-8 finishes and anyone outside of that are considered level? Hence 8th would be something worth fighting for.

    Why does it matter that if X fluked a result then he’d finish 6th above Y even though Y had 3 more 8th places? When do we ever remember who finished outside the top 2 or 3 in the championship?

    The points allocation has changed many times over the years. I don’t see how doing it this way would mess around with the ‘history’ of F1.

  51. I think that “exciting” is a different thing from “fair”.

    This year’s championship will be decided in the last race, and I find it really exciting, compared to the schumacher era, when the last five or six races where completely insignificant.

    Hence I think this point system is fine, as a way to produce the outcome in an exciting way.

    If it produces a “fair” outcome (based on merit, talent, bravery, etc.) is an entirely subjective matter, and based on personal taste on driving style a different point system may suite the purpose.

  52. Personally, I prefer keeping some sort of points system, although one that only gives points to the top six is probably preferable as that would inevitably mean a greater difference between the points given to first and second. The old system of 10 for a win, 6 for 2nd, etc, etc had its merits.

    Sticking with the ‘medals’ idea for a minute though, a quick trawl through the archives has brought up some interesting information with regard to what would’ve happened if F1 had used this to determine the championship in the past. For example, Mike Hawthorn and John Surtees would never have been crowned champion – in 1958, Stirling Moss won four GPs to Hawthorn’s one, whereas in 1964 Jim Clark (three wins) would have beaten Surtees (two). Clark would’ve won it in 1967 as well. Plus, Nigel Mansell would’ve been a triple world champion – winning the title in 1986 and 1987 as well as 1992.

  53. Top four in 2007:

    RAI 6 2 4 (110 points)
    HAM 4 5 3 (109 points)
    ALO 4 4 4 (109 points)
    MAS 3 4 3 (94 points)

    No Change

    Raikkonen would have led coming in to the final race with both Hamilton and Alonso each knowing that only a victory could secure them the title on countback. How would Ron have played that situation?!

    Ferrari would probably have been able to prevent that from happening thanks to Massa’s liking of Interlagos.

  54. In 2006 only a victory in Brazil could have won the title for Michael since they were tied for wins but Fernando had Michael well covered for second places.

    Fernando’s only objective would have been to prevent Michael winning.

  55. I’ve thought a lot about this (well…aside from working, and doing other things, such as yard work, reading books, watching football, ALMS & NASCAR, tending my stocks (ouch), etc.) and I believe Bernie is right.

    The point system has seen five different iterations (this being the fifth) since its inception in 1950. Increasing the points for first place and adding points for seventh and eight, while reducing the gap between points, as I recall, was to spread the wealth and reward consistency and reliability. That was adopted in 2003. This was brought about as much because of the Concorde Agreement as anything else, and the way that teams would share money at the end of the year.

    Before that, only the first six finishers were given points. First place won 9 points. That was used from 1960 to 1966, and then put in use again in 81. Between those periods, from 1967 to 1980, first to sixth were awarded points, with first winning 9 points, but ‘the worst’ finish from the first and second half of the season were tossed. And in the beginning, from ’50 to ’59, first to fifth were awarded points, with another point awarded for fastest lap. First place was rewarded 8 points.

    Formula 1 is supposed to be the pinnacle of speed and technology, human and machine dancing together as fast as possible in an all out two hour drama. A win becomes more meaningful and failure becomes more significant. It does punish failure to finish; if you don’t finish, you don’t win.

    Formula 1 drivers strike me as hugely competitive. Are they as competitive, as driven, as Olympic athletes? Probably. A win is a win; that’s what they seek in every race, until they start playing it safe, ‘racing for the championship’.

    As far as points for lower finishes go, the system for the Constructor’s Championship should continue as it is. Thus, a driver can still get fifth place and win points for his team, even if he can’t achieve the gold medal awarded on the podium’s top step.


  56. I don’t like the idea of medal system for the drivers. I do like the idea for the Constructor’s Championship, though. This in itself would have teams analysing and pushing their drivers more than they perhaps do now, and might increase the turnover of drivers in top cars, giving more guys an opportunity to shine or flop.

    I guess my main problems at the moment with something like a medal system for drivers are the current safety car rules, aero rules and probably the qualifying format, or should I say, the sensitivity of tyres, cars and drivers to the current qualifying format.

  57. 46 – Donwatters – which is precisely what I went on to say… in the context of the actual problems inherent in F1 now, this would be a needless attempt to fix one of the few bits of it that isn’t broken!

  58. I’m not sure I go along with your opinion just yet. Furthermore I think there are issues to consider for example the money distribution is tied into the points. Out of curiosity, how would this be resolved?

  59. I like the idea very much. I don’t understand the claim that 4th o 5th place would not be rewarded. It’s exactly the opposite. With this system every position, even 19th over 20th, would count. With the current system instead you get 0 points either you are 9th or 20th. And in the same way a driver knows that a win is better than 10 second places, he knows that a 11th is better than 10 12th, he will be always encouraged to fight with the guy in front, be it for the lead or for 15th. There would be a great reduction of cruising home for safe points and a DNF wuold not be a disaster any more.

  60. Alianora La Canta
    23rd October 2008, 11:17

    I’m a little uneasy about the idea of making the championship a medal system, even though it has the benefit of making victory considerably more attractive to a championship-fighting team. Less because of the risk of teams getting unfair positions (though I would cite Jordan in 2003*) but because of the reasoning implied by the resulting tables.

    Should Ferrari have finished 3rd in 2005 because they had consistency all season, or because they happened to come 1-2 in the US Grand Prix due to 14 of their competitors ending their races before they started them?

    Should McLaren have come second in the same season because their cars kept breaking down, or won because when Raikkonen had a functional car he was virtually unbeatable?

    This year, should Alonso have Heidfeld separating him from Raikkonen because of his (and his car’s) greater inconsistency or should Alonso and Raikkonen be regarded as more-or-less equal because they both have two wins? And for that matter, should Kubica be above both because he has attained several skilful podiums whereas neither Alonso nor Raikkonen has done much on the podium apart from their wins?

    It’s worth noting that Andrea’s theory that it will encourage more attempts at overtaking will work if – and only if – the probability of a driver making an overtake stick without losing the place again (either through being overtaken again or breaking his car in the attempt to overtake) is at least 50%. Otherwise the opposite effect will happen (at least among the sort of drivers who are influenced by the points/medal system).

    But mostly this is irrelevant until the FIA get their act together and actually judge races properly. Until then every scoring system is going to be largely arbitrary.

    * – Jordan in 2003 had 15 retirements out of 32 starts, and only scored points on three occasions. Two of these were a seventh and an eighth. As a result they were given ninth place, with only Minardi (who scored no points at all) behind them. However, Jordan would have been 5th under the medal system – because the other point score was a win…

  61. i really dont understand why there is so much discussion over the current system. this is the 3rd season in a row that the championship has gone down to the last race. how is that not working?

    teams are always going to play numbers games and drivers are always going to hedge their bets and avoid taking what they consider to be unnecessary risks.

    it is fairer to not ‘meddle’ (pun intended) with the system and let the teams know what they are racing for season after season.

  62. Pedro – I was only clarifying Keith’s suggestion, not advocating it myself. So yes, under a medals system, Coulthard would be ahead of Webber because of the former’s Montreal podium.

    I was suggesting a best 11 results only system (post 38), which in my opinion is just better than the medals system where good luck could result in a driver being far higher up the table than he deserved to be.

  63. Full medal points for 2007 and changes in position of each driver from where they finished in the 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 table along with their points.

    1) Raikkonen 6 2 4 (110 points, NO CHANGE)

    2) Hamilton 4 5 4 (109 points, NO CHANGE)

    3) Alonso 4 4 4 (109 points, NO CHANGE)

    4) Massa 3 4 4 (94 points, NO CHANGE)

    5) Heidfeld 0 1 1 (61 points, NO CHANGE)

    6) Kovaleinen 0 1 0 (30 points, +1)

    7) Wurz 0 0 1, 4th (13 points, +4)

    8) Webber 0 0 1, 7th (10 points, +4)

    9) Kubica 4th x3 (36 points, -3)

    10) Fisichella 4th, 5th x2, 6th x2 (21 points -2)

    11) Coulthard 4th, 5th x2, 8th (14 points, -1)

    12) Rosberg 4th, 6th x3 (20 points, -3)

    13) Vettel 4th, 8th (6 points,+1)

    14) Button 5th (6 points, +1)

    15) Trulli 6th, 7th x2 (8 points, -2)

    16) Schumacher 6th, 8th x2 (5 points, NO CHANGE)

    17) Sato 6th, 8th, 12th (4 points, NO CHANGE)

    18) Liuzzi 6th, 9th (3 points, NO CHANGE)

    19) Sutil 8th (1 point, NO CHANGE)

    20) Barrichello 9th, 10th x4 (0 points, NO CHANGE)

    21) Speed 9th, 13th (0 points, NO CHANGE)

    22) Nakajima 10th (0 points, NO CHANGE)

    23) Davidson 11th x3 (0 points, NO CHANGE)

    24) Yamamoto 12th (0 points, NO CHANGE)

    25) Albers 14th x2 (0 points, NO CHANGE)

    26) Winkeljock No Finishes

  64. Yosef Bassiouni
    23rd October 2008, 18:50

    Hi just come across this site, really impressive, all i need to know f1 related in one place ;) i’m an avid McLaren fan, b4 lewis as well, i like what you’re saying here, and as mclaren and lewis are racers i think this would be good for us, i always think the drivers that wins the most gp deserves the title, by and large this happens, but i don’t like the way people get high placings on just finishing, like someone said you can win five build a 10 pt lead and then see that go in one dnf! also this would be easier for joe public to understand and that would be f1 to a new audince! the only down side is you do get those results like toro rosso being up in the championship instaead of toyota, but every system has faults, any system that means the driver that has won the most is good news imo

  65. 2008 Championship Standings (as for post 63)

    1) Hamilton 5 2 3 (94 points, NO CHANGE)
    2) Massa 5 2 2 (87 points, NO CHANGE)
    3) Raikkonen 2 2 4 (69 points, +1)
    4) Alonso 2 0 0 (53 points, +2)
    5) Kubica 1 3 3 (75 points, -2)
    6) Kovalainen 1 1 0 (51 points, +1)
    7) Vettel 1 0 0 (30 points, +1)
    8) Heidfeld 0 4 0 (60 points, -3)
    9) Rosberg 0 1 1 (17 points, +4)
    10) Glock 0 1 0 4th x2 (22 points, NO CHANGE)
    11) Piquet 0 1 0 4th x1 (19 points, +1)
    12) Trulli 0 0 1 4th (30 points, -3)
    13) Barrichello 0 0 1 6th (11 points, +1)
    14) Coulthard 0 0 1 7th (8 points, +2)
    15) Webber 4th (21 points, -4)
    16) Nakajima 6th, 7th (9 points, -1)
    17) Button 6th, 9th (3 points, +1)
    18) Bourdais 7th (4 points, -1)

    No change, of course, with any of the drivers without points

  66. Who can honestly say that Coulthard has had a better 2008 than Webber?!

  67. #66 Thanks for the tables. While I agree that it’d be hard to argue that Coulthard has been better than Webber this season we’re talking about positions outside the top 10. And who’s to say that under a medal system, Webber wouldn’t have raced harder and got a higher finish?

    What about Kubica, Alonso and Raikkonen? My opinion is that the medal system is a better reflection of their seasons/ability.

    How much more exciting would this season be if we were going into Brazil with a ‘winner takes all’ situation?

  68. Mattclinch – “this is the 3rd season in a row that the championship has gone down to the last race. how is that not working?”
    The test of whether a system is working is not whether it’s producing close championship-deciders. You could easily introduce a NASCAR-style ‘Chase for the Cup’ system to fulfil your criteria, and it would be terrible.

    The test is whether it fairly rewards the best driver over the course of a season with the championship, and how it affects a driver’s tactics in order to do that. The current system encourages title rivals to be ultra-conservative in final races; the ‘gold medal’ system is more likely to force them to keep pushing.

    Thanks to everyone who’s posted the charts by the way – they make interesting reading!

    I do agree with the sentiment that, of F1’s various problems, this is not a top priority. But still, it’s something I think would make the sport better and easier to understand.

    I think there’s another argument in favour of it: F1 cars are extremely reliable now, to the point where a championship-contending driver can expect to have as few as two, one or even no failures per season. That makes the impact of these failures far greater under the points system – but the ‘gold medal’ method potentially lessens their impact.

  69. michael counsell
    24th October 2008, 0:34

    Ridiculous why would anyone ever fight for position if it meant nothing… Who care what the fans think its not their job, its a pleasurable experience. Let teams and drivers fight for minor points, for honour. They work hard enough. Have some respect.

  70. This is the system from A1GP, isn’t it?

    The main difference is that it would decide the driver’s championship (only) because I don’t think medal counting would work well for the constructors (teams). In A1, all wins are for the countries (teams) but the teams only have one car each.

  71. William Wilgus
    25th October 2008, 14:55

    This is exactly what I’ve been arguing for all along: whoever wins the most races is champ.

  72. I think they need to leave well enough alone. They did everything in their power this year to make sure Ferrari won both championships and against the odds, McLaren took one away. But under a medal system, Ferrari would have had both. As soon as another team (notably McLaren) were to claim the same fortune under a medal system, they would want to change the rules again. Leave well enough alone. It has worked for years and is just fine the way it is, though a first place finish could have a little more oomph to it over second, I suppose.

    There are already enough changes for 2009 that we don’t need to muck it up even more with something like this. For all we know, the new aero regulations generating BUTT UGLY cars will give us the closer racing we would like to see and the need for a different points system wouldn’t really mean much. There is way more potential for abstract results with a medal system than there are with the points. So freaking what if other sports use medals? Who cares? F1 is racing. RACING leagues by and large are points driven. Its not the Olympics here people.

    IMO, Bernie needs to close his mouth and just rake in the cash now. He has done enough and its time to pass it on to someone else who can keep F1 at the pinnacle of technology. Its going down the tubes and with the desire for spec engines and smaller budgets. At this rate of intervention, it will soon be the likes of the IRL only on a grander stage. Don’t get me wrong, my advice isn’t to stop ALL the changes, change CAN be good. But it needs to be gauged, weighed and measured to see if its having the desired result. Concentrate on one change at a time, make sure it has the desired effect and then scrap it, or move on to something else. Changing everything all at once leaves everyone unable to gauge what changes are working and which ones aren’t.

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