The FIA ‘analysis’ of Ecclestone’s medals proposal is flawed and irrelevant

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The FIA thought it worth mentioning that Ecclestone used to own Brabham

Bernie Ecclestone’s plan to replace the F1 points system with the awarding of ‘medals’ for winners has been widely received as a bad idea.

Today the FIA waded into the argument by publishing some research. Their effort shows much the same lack of care and consideration that Ecclestone put his idea forward with.

Titled "The ‘F1 medals’ proposal – a historical perspective", it appears to be the product of about five minutes’ work, is founded on an utterly spurious premise, and provides no little worthwhile contribution to the medals debate at all.

False premise

In a ten-page document the results of every F1 championship are laid out, and compared to what might have happened had Ecclestone’s scheme been in place (drivers are ranked in the championship in accordance with who has won the most races, then who has the most second places, and so on).

These are the report’s findings:

Only 22 of the 59 World Championships to date would have the same top 3. The other 37 World Championships would be different. The World Champion would be altered on 13 occasions. The medal system would create three "new" World Champions who did not win the title using the various points systems.

What does this tell us? Nothing.

The report is based on the assumption that the championship system has no bearing at all on how a driver approaches each race. This is clearly nonsense. Think of how often we hear drivers who have finished second or third in a race contenting themselves with thought that they’ve ‘scored good points for the championship’?

Ecclestone’s point is that drivers change their approach to championships depending on how the title is won. If they need to accumulate points, then they settle for safe second and third places. If they need wins, they take more risks. The FIA has missed the point by miles with this research.

Politically motivated?

There is something odd about the FIA choosing to respond to Ecclestone’s idea in such an inadequate fashion. And this quote suggests there is a degree of baiting going on:

Brabham under the ownership of Bernie Ecclestone would have won no Drivers’ Championships.

The FIA’s notes make extensive references to the number of titles won or lost by different drivers. This is plainly designed to incite opposition to the idea among fans who will object to, say, Nelson Piquet being notionally stripped of his three world championships. Ecclestone’s idea means nothing of the sort, and intelligent F1 fans are quite capable of seeing that for themselves.

A good idea badly sold

I know well enough from reading the comments on the site that a lot of people aren’t convinced by the ‘medals’ system. Nonetheless I think that had it been thought out properly and presented to fans more clearly it would have been received better.

A championship scoring system that rewards drivers who get the most of the best results is, to me, the fair and correct one.

Ecclestone has made this concept terribly confused by only talking about ranking the top three finishers (when there is no need to exclude drivers who finish fourth or lower in this system), Olympic-style medals, and keeping the old points system for constructors. This is all needless complication.

But the core idea – ranking drivers in accordance with who has got the best results – is utterly sound and much simpler than any arbitrary points system that promotes conservatism over the pursuit of victory. I argued for it on several occasions before the ‘medals’ argument blew up:

I still haven’t heard a convincing argument against ranking drivers in order of their best finishes to decide the championship. This laughably spurious statement from the FIA certainly isn’t it.

You can find "The ‘F1 medals’ proposal – a historical perspective" on the F1Fanatic

Author information

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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93 comments on “The FIA ‘analysis’ of Ecclestone’s medals proposal is flawed and irrelevant”

  1. Here is my idea :

    the points system now is : 10,8,6,5,4,3,2,1 with all races counting — I think

    Instead I propose : 11,8,6,5,4,3,2,1 with each driver discounting the two worst races of the year

    this I believe could be a simple step forward that would reward bolder driving, and at the same time not penalise too much a driver that has had bad luck in first – lap incidents, etc

    1. Yes, but it fits more for the winner to take 10 points and not an akward number of points like 11 or 25(motogp)

    2. OK, so it could be then :
      10,7,5,4,3,2,1 and two races discounted ?

    30th January 2009, 19:08

    great article Keith !!! summed it up nicely, and dont forget the last 2 championships have been decided in the last race by only 1 point!!! How close do you want a title fight to be then toxic midget Bernieboy??? hes such a ******* at times! :)

  3. I don’t like the medals idea at all, if it aint broke don’t fix it!!!

  4. This report looks purely like the FIA saying some things that don’t matter. Saying what WOULD have happened IF the medals system is implemented is pointless.
    Surely the FIA should be doing more important things than printing stupid little reports on ideas that no-one likes (despite how good or bad it may be). I know it’s the off-season but this is a joke.

  5. I am not a fan or advocate of the medal system, but interesting from the FIA analysis I believe that the Word Championship would have had a different conclusion only once in the last 19 years. Interesting it would have been last year – and what a awesome season.

    Despite this becoming a political powerplay now, I feel this document highlights even more so that the medials idea is a bad idea. Either keep as we are or increase the difference between first and second. It feels like taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut!

  6. I’m not opposed to a system that rewards wins and gives motivation to win a race, but the key to it is what will be done for positions 4th and onwards.

    If the system is based on the final race position as Keith suggests, I think it would work and it would be fairly simple to understand. A “medals” system implies that only 1st to 3rd is taken into account – even James Allen is uncertain on his blog about what happens to 4th place on.

    An alternative system would be to give cash prizes for the relative race positions, which would live up to the name “Grand Prix”. Final standings can be based on total winnings like in golf, and 1st place would taken home close to double of second place earnings. Then teams can cut their driver salaries and drivers have to earn their living. We can kill two birds with one stone! (I wouldn’t support this…i’m just saying it’s an alternative)

  7. I don’t like the medal system… Just because i think points are the correct way…

    I do reject the actual point system… That’s the real problem i think…

    Drivers settle for 2nd because winning means much more risks and just 2 points bonus. Why should they opt to fight wheel to wheel if their 8 points score means 80% of the winners reward?… It’s logically pointless…

    the old 10-6-4-3-2-1 meant you had to win to get much more points for a win and if you were 10 points off the championship leader and you win you could (in the worst scenario) shorten the gap by 40%… And that’s A LOT…

    If i remember correctly, the 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 point system was introduced by Bernie himself to avoid drivers (Schumacher at the time) to crown champion as early as in 2002…

    That meaning we had a competitive 2003 season, but let me remind you Schumacher won the title by 1 or 2 points, having won several races, and the runner up (Raikkonen) just won 1 race… It was more packed at the front at the standings, but in fact, the difference should have been much greater…

  8. A well written comment Keith I agree in total. We all know that most things that come out of the FIA are politically motivated. Last year it was Ron this year it is Bernie. Its just Max not forgiving anyone for being caught with his pants down.

  9. The FIA seems to have written an ambiguous document that it can use to say “I agree” whether the medals system is adopted or not (remember it hasn’t completely committed to either direction yet). However, I think the purpose of this document is entirely political.

    I’m still not convinced by the idea of medals, but then again I don’t see how this document will convince anyone who’s been keeping track of the debate this far to switch positions (in either direction).

    1. I must admit to being opposed to the medal system at first, but then not giving it much thought afterward. After all, it was Bernie, it was bluntly put – in essence a typical sound-bite.

      After reading the FIA statement, I have one question. Why? Why did the FIA bother with this at all? It doesn’t say anything. There’s no opinion there. Why make some badly judged (and typically skewed) facts and stats without coming to a conclusion? Nasty and typical, if you ask me.

      The only positive thing I saw in this tripe was the altered order of top Champions. I’ve got to admit that that list looks far more like “how it should have been”, if you listen to opinions fron elder statesman of the sport, ex-drivers, journalists and older fans. Jim Clark with four WDC’s? Seems about right. Prost with five and Senna with four? About right. Stirling Moss with the oneeveryone says he should have had? Yep. I think I’m coming around to the medal system now!

      1. Yep. I think I’m coming around to the medal system now!

        If the FIA are saying it’s a bad idea, it’s got to be good!

  10. Now there are only 9 teams in the grid, It would be a good idea to go back to 10-6-4-3-2-1 point system. It rewards the winner and it’s in the spirit of the pointing system which for so long have been used in F1

  11. Medals are a bad idea. It’s an utterly unfair way to rank a competition. One win is not better than 18 second places. The only proper way to rank drivers in a comptetition is by using a weighed scoring system.

    Is the current weighing incorrect? Yes it is (IIRC it was actually Ecclestone himself who had it messed up a few years agao). Still, that doesn’t mean that the principle of weighed ranking should be abandoned. Simply correct the weights.

    Indeed, maybe medals will cause some drivers to fight a bit more in some rare situations. For instance Hamilton might have fought more when Massa was leading the race only 2 seconds ahead of him.

    On the other hand, it will decreasing the will to overtake a whole lot more. Think about Monza (or any situation where drivers were out of contention for the win). Would Hamilton and Raikkonen have taken the effort to overtake all those drivers if only a win would have meant anything? Of course not. They would simply tune the engine down, cruise to the end and hope for a better race next time. The whole race would have been one long boring parade.

    The analysis is flawed, but the idea of using medals is fundamentally flawed so who cares?

    1. One win is not better than 18 second places.

      Under the present system nine second places are worth more than seven wins, which is also ridiculous. The ranking system is better because it works in more realistic examples. When was the last time one driver had a single win and another 18 second places? Neither system is perfect, you have to pick the one which is more like to give the title to the most deserving outcome in the most realistic circumstances. And that is the ranking system.

      Would Hamilton and Raikkonen have taken the effort to overtake all those drivers if only a win would have meant anything? Of course not. They would simply tune the engine down, cruise to the end and hope for a better race next time. The whole race would have been one long boring parade.

      Given that McLaren were convinced it was going to rain again in that race, which would have put Hamilton in a position to win it, I think that argument is wrong.

    2. Under the present system nine second places are worth more than seven wins, which is also ridiculous.

      Yes indeed. So? Why replace one ridiculous option with another ridiculous one?

      Simply fix the scoring and the problem is solved. Fix it back to the way it was before they broke it for all I care.

      The ranking system is better because it works in more realistic examples. When was the last time one driver had a single win and another 18 second places?

      Again, that’s just an extreme example to show how ridiculous the medal ranking really is.

      Still the medals system fails in many more situations. It’s not just 18 second places vs 1 win. In my book two second places are worth more than one win.

      Neither system is perfect

      There is nothing wrong with a weighed scoring system. What’s imperfect about that system in itself?

      you have to pick the one which is more like to give the title to the most deserving outcome in the most realistic circumstances. And that is the ranking system.

      No, medals are unfair to the utter core of ranking competitions. You cannot simply ignore all lesser accomplishments and look only at the best results. It’s ridiculous to suggest that that’s even remotely fair.

      Medals are made up to add entertainment. Not to be fair. The fact that it is unfair is taken as an accepted side effect or it’s simply ignored.

  12. HounslowBusGarage
    30th January 2009, 20:53

    Sorry, the medals concept is irrelevant here. This is Max telling Bernie to eff-off, butt-out or otherwise go away.
    It wouldn’t have mattered if Bernie ha proposed having summer in July, Max would have ruled against it.
    This is Max telling Bernie to look after his side of the ‘triangle’ and not to meddle in Max’s.

  13. Points should most definately be kept. World Champion is an annual title, thus given to the driver that has performed the ‘best’ over the year. By giving the title based on wins, you risk rewarding people for seven good races – out of sixteen.

  14. HounslowBusGarage
    30th January 2009, 21:08

    I love the pic of the Brabham you selected for this article. look at the elegant lines, the lack or complication in the design. it’s simple and superb. Not a blemish visible on the strict midnight blue and white colourscheme.
    Normally, I’d select a JPS Lotus as the most elegant F1 car of all time, but this Parmalat Brabham comes close, very close.

    1. Terry Fabulous
      31st January 2009, 9:29

      You are spot on HBG.
      I love the lines on this car. Other then the front wings, the 09 cars are looking so much better then the messes we saw last year.

  15. I don’t like the medals idea anyway, but with this report, the FIA has insulted my brain. :(

  16. Piquet loses all three of his championships with the medal system!

    1. No he doesn’t, that’s my point.

  17. For the life of me I can’t understand why Bernie, who has to a certain extent flagged up a genuine problem with the scoring system, has not been able to “suggest” a sane fix.

    Quite why it either has to be 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 or gold-silver-bronze medals I really don’t get. What’s with the extremes?

    You will be very hard pushed to find anyone who thinks the 2 point gap between first and second is large enough. Make it 12-8-6 and we’ve fixed it, we’ve done exactly what is needed and asked by rewarding the winner and providing incentive, without going totally barmy and destroying the WDC for everyone but the title protagonists.

    Just flamin’ well do it Bernie.

  18. It seems the biggest mistake Bernie has made on this matter is to call it the ‘medals system’. It isn’t that, as you pointed out Keith. And to say that no one will try to overtake because winning is all that counts is wrong – under the current system the 10th place driver wouldn’t be as motivated to overtake the 9th driver as it has no bearing on points. But if it’s positions that count then you may see more motive to overtake all down the grid.
    Also, the argument that 1 win isn’t better than 18 second places isn’t valid either because that simply wouldn’t happen.

    I’m all for it, but lets call it something more representitive of what it actually is.

    Look at Brazil too – granted it was fantastically exciting due to the rain at the end, but other than that Hamilton was content with a finish in the top 5. Under the position system both he and Massa would have been gunning for the win to take the title.

    1. Also, the argument that 1 win isn’t better than 18 second places isn’t valid either because that simply wouldn’t happen.

      Well it’s just an example. But something similar does happen reasonably often. For instance Vettel, Rosberg and Piquet versus Heidfeld and Kubica in the last season.

      You also can think up more reasonable yet unfair examples (even for the protagonists), but the point still remains that the medal system is simply unfair.

    2. I think such a drastic change to the points as the medal system would be just as ridiculous as max’s spec engine idea. A good way to provide extra motivation for drivers at the front of the grid would be to drop the 4 worst races. This would allow drivers to take risks without worrying about losing valuable points in the championship but still reward consistency. I did some quick research and since the current system was introduced it would not have affected who won the championship but in every season the points margin would be closer except 08 because of the huge amounts of points both lewis and felipe through away. In 03-07 the champion had no more than 2 finishes outside of the points (except 05 but only because alonso didnt race at the USGP) which would also encourage the top drivers not to settle for further back points and race for the podium.

      1. A good way to provide extra motivation for drivers at the front of the grid would be to drop the 4 worst races.

        No, they had that in the ’80s, it got horribly complicated at the end of a season. Not a good idea. Plus then you get into tedious arguments like “Prost should’ve won the ’88 championship” etc…

        1. You’re going to get the “so and so should have won the championship” with medals too. There will be times when a driver has had indeed one win more but otherwise severely worse results than the next contender (ie the second place guys has been on the podium all year).

          Every inherently unfair ranking system will give those types of debates. Just as the unfair weighed points ranking system is giving similar discussions now.

          1. There will be times when a driver has had indeed one win more but otherwise severely worse results than the next contender (ie the second place guys has been on the podium all year).

            Maybe, but if that is the way the title is decided, then the drivers will abide by and race with this potential in mind. One example is football. The Premier League Championship is decided by a system that rewards consistency by a most-points-by-end-of-season-wins method, thanks to scoring 1 point for a draw. Is this fair?

            Australian Rules Football is decided in a different way. There are finals between the top 8 teams at the end, until two teams fight off in a Grand Final. Last year one team won 21 out of 22 games in the season, won every final and then “choked” in the Grand Final. They’re not the Premiers, and they accept this. Is this fair?

            My point is that it should be up to the competitors to judge, not the fans or the FIA/FOM bosses. So let’s see what the teams and drivers think before judging whether something is an “inherently unfair ranking system” or not.

          2. Yes I think it’s fair that a draw gives points. No I don’t think it’s fair that at the end of a competition you have finals to determine the champion. Anyway, they don’t do that to be fair, they do that to make more money from the events.

            You act like drivers could in general simply grab a win at will and are not doing so because of lack of motivation. That’s simply not the case.

            In football motivation might play a bigger role, but in Formula 1 the drivers depend on their car (and setup and tires and such).

            Indeed there are rare instances were drivers settle for a lower position, but that’s not the norm.

            Besides, you have 2 drivers per team and often a driver will be forced to settle for a position. Teams will be forced to determine their no 1 driver virtually from the start of the season.

            So the overall result of a season will not change by using medals and the drivers’ motivation has virtually nothing to do with it for the majority of this result.

            Then yes I think it is unfair to count only the wins instead of calculating a weighed ranking based on all results.

            Again, if you want to increase the points for a win then give 12 points for a win. It’s really not that difficult.

  19. I’m not in favour of the medals system.

    I think we should adopt a system in which the back-runners can score points and have a chance- maybe have a separate championship for them? It might not work but i think its a fair point because it will give the slower teams to batlle out for, instead of just trying to finish the race.

    Either that or just stick with the normal points system.

    1. The ranking system would reward drivers at the back of the grid better. At present you only get points if you finish eighth or higher.

  20. I’m not that much against medals idea because it does promote more aggresive driving and more risk-taking then the present system. If the drivers wouldn’t settle for second or third to score valuable points. It should promote battles for first beyond the first few corners (unless the rain falls). Can anybody remember last time we saw an overtake for a leading position in race? Lets discount wet races, that is a completely different story… If I’m not mistaken there were only a handfull of attacks, let alone overtakes in dieing laps of the race. Remember the astonishing Alonso-Schumacher battle in Imola a few seasons ago? I think medal system (or a similar one) would promote such behaviour on track.

    Maybe I’m biased as I love the drivers who have guts and I would love to see moments like this again in F1. And don’t forget that was a battle for 2nd place…

    1. But then think how many situations there were where the two leaders were close enough together to actually overtake. It simply doesn’t happen that often.

      Yet if there is a chance than they DO go for it. Spa is an obvious case. Granted there was rain, but these guys were fighting to the death over first spot.

      I’d say the only other example would be Valencia where Hamilton might have pushed Massa a bit more, but he really never would have had a chance to overtake on that track anyway. So even with medals he would have settled for a silver medal.

      There are dozens of instances where I’m sure drivers would have stopped overtaking though. There were lots of botched up pit stops or qualifications which rendered the driver out of contention for the win (and even a podium unlikely). With medals in that situation the best option is to give up and save the engine so you can push it harder for the next race.

      So what would the end result be? One race where there was a guy pushing a tad harder and dozens of times where great overtaking races were stranded from the get go.

  21. I think this was intended as a bit of light entertainment and not a political move at all.

    I saw a race from the late eightees (i think) a while back and Murray Walker mentioned the medals idea then, how long has Bernie wanted this?

    If Bernie wants more overtaking maybe the points should be given for overtakings, not for finishing first ;) Qualifying might be a bit odd though, everyone fighting for last place.

  22. I’m with the vast majority of people who believe that the best solution is to increase the points differential.

    The medal system is a bad idea, and no-one will make me believe otherwise.

    1. The medal system is a bad idea


  23. nothing new to say:

    medals are a crap idea – cheesey and counter-productive. as was said before, 1 first place is not better than 18 second places.

    keep the current system, but award first place with 12 to 15 points.

    what about the possibility of extending points farther down the order? before you poo-poo the idea, know that it has worked very well for decades in north america.

    1. what about the possibility of extending points farther down the order?

      With a ranking system, you wouldn’t have to, because every finishing position would be ranked.

    2. The current ranking system is in the first place based on score, but when that’s equal it transfers to a position based ranking type (like with the madal ranking).

      So all postitons do already count in the current ranking system.

      It’s difficult to account for all positions fairly in a score weighed system. Or rather you’d need to use really large numbers for first place to be able to keep a progressive scoring all the way down. For instance if you want to give each position two thirds the points of the position before it, you’d need to start with 3000 points for first place to keep that up.

      So either you take out the progressive scheme, but that would make it unfair (not enough difference in points between gaining places) or you stop giving points.

  24. Hear hear! The research means nothing because the drivers reaction to the rules isn’t taken into account.

    (still don’t like the medals idea tho)

  25. Bernie has gone off the boil. Medals are a bad idea. Consider the 2008 season – Hamilton losses a win from a bad steward decision; Massa takes out Hamilton perhaps prevent another win…the point being that the stakes would be too high to prevent the FIA from interfering or from a driver or teammate from taking drastic action.

    1. Consider the 2008 season – Hamilton losses a win from a bad steward decision

      That’s not an argument against medals, that’s an argument against bad stewarding decisions (and I’m with you on that one!).

  26. eccelstone is way past it… 78?? surely someone younger with more life in them, a fresh perspective and less self interest can deal with things better!

  27. Nothing to do with who would’ve lost what or who would’ve won what in the past years with the proposed medal system: as Massa has pointed out, you work out your strategy and work according to the current system – if you don’t win, you don’t win.

    I agree the winner doesn’t get much for a win – but it ends at that. The points system needs revision, that is all. No medals, no trophys, no nothing else needs anymore weight. If they revised the points system (rather rashly, I may add) because the season could be wrapped up by sheer dominance, then why should they do any different when nobody is clearly dominating?

    As with one of Keiths previous posts, I still stand by a revision of the 12, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 scoring (should 8 places be points awarded). Otherwise, given the demise of Honda making the grid 18, I’m in favour of the old 10, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1 system.

    In the end, the winner DOES need to be rewarded – why should having to settle for second be there? And I welcome proposals that do so, but I don’t agree with the medal system whatsoever. If it’s not the points system, then please figure out some other way – bearing in mind there are teams that struggle to get into the points as it is without top teams having to field a 3rd car, or whatnot.

  28. There seems to be a contradiction here in what the f.i.a want in making engines last longer and saving money and bernie wanting the medals system. Drivers need to save their engines so cannot always push for a win. And extending the gap in points between 1st and second cannot work i do not think. The reason for the current points system was to stop the likes of Schumacher winning the championship too early with the 4 point gap between 1st and second, so increasing the gap would make it worse. Maybe if they gave out points to everyone on the grid that would help. Perhaps someone could do research into that to see if it would make a difference?

  29. Points system should be: 20-15-10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1-1-1. Thats the top 12 finishers getting points, so teams like force india can get rewarded more for better races. And the system I propose has double the points for finishing 1st over 3rd, a huge difference that we all want to see so we see drivers battling more. I think thats the best way!

    1. I like that idea, but why not make it 20-15-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1. I don’t like the idea of 3 finishers all getting the same points, just doesn’t seem right.

  30. I think the medal system is a bad idea but I see the way Bernie is thinking too. Adjusting the point system is one way to look at it with either 12-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 or 10-6-5-4-3-2-1. The other way would be to reward good qualifying and point the top 6 for qualyfying too it would make the stratergists lives a little more interesting. I would propose 10-8-6-4-2-1 for qualifying too or even just a top 3 – 5-3-1 This would make people think even more about race stratergy and qualifying performance!

  31. Keith:
    “points system that promotes conservatism over the pursuit of victory”

    – I wouldn’t be so sure that with the medal system it wouldn’t be that as well – and even to a greater degree.

    The advocates of the medal system claim that the drivers would always feel the urge to fight for the win in a race. Ok… but there are 20 drivers on the track, and the fight for the win is not the only thing happening on the track. In most races the leader leads by 20sec. and it is only the fight for the 2nd, the 5th or the 8th place that makes the show.

    Why would Massa or Alonso bother to fight for the third place in a season’s 14th race knowing that only a win can eventually give them the championship?
    It’d be “either you win or don’t bother racing at all”.

    That’s a lot worse kind of conservatism.

    1. Why would Massa or Alonso bother to fight for the third place in a season’s 14th race knowing that only a win can eventually give them the championship?

      Because someone else with as many wins as them might sneak a 3rd at the next race, dropping them down the final standings if they don’t get that extra win. And because the team would be within their rights to sack them.

      One point I haven’t read here yet is that the main argument against medals is the potential skewing of Championship position due to a “lucky” result. Rosberg and Piquet’s podiums, for example. But with any points system, this is already the case. If a driver consistently finishes 9th, but never gets a point for the season, he could be pipped in the Championship standings by a Force India (eg.) driver who scores 1 point due to a safety car or weather, but finishes every other race in 20th. The case being made against medals is a case against points, too.

    2. The case being made against medals is a case against points, too.

      Sure with points there will be skewed results, but not to the same extent as with medals.

      If someone scores a lucky win and doesn’t perform the rest of the year, the result in the standings will marginally different. With medals the driver can easily win 4 or 5 places.

  32. Bernie’s central argument for the medals system is that the driver who wins the most races should also win the world championship, i.e. that drivers who go all out to win races should be rewarded over those who cruise and collect.

    So, is the cruise and collect model of winning world championships actually a worthwhile one for the likes of Hamilton, Massa or Kubica to pursue in the absence of a medal system? It may seem so, but I don’t think it is.

    One useful thing the FIA analysis does show is the number of races won by the champion and runners up. Since 1990, only one world title has been won by a driver who won fewer races than the runner up – Lewis Hamilton in 2008, who won five races compared to Felipe Massa’s six. And even that is contentious given the Spa row. Discount that, and the previous champion who won fewer races than the runner up was Alain Prost beating Ayrton Senna in 1989.

    So, in every year except one since Prost’s 1989 title the driver who has won the most races has also won the title. Where is the incentive to cruise and collect? Bernie has come up with an interesting solution but I think the problem is more perceived than actual.

    I disagree with the idea of a medals system because I don’t agree that there’s a problem that needs to be solved. And if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    My other concern is season where a single driver/car combination dominates utterly – Mansell/Williams in 1992, Schumacher/Ferrari in 2002 and 2004 – the medals system makes the title easier to wrap up by half way. The gap between first and second was reduced for that very reason.

  33. Lets not forget that the last pointscoring system change was motivated mostly by the superiority of Schumacher-Ferrari, because otherwise the championships would be over by july or august…

    So, pointscoring will change everytime the circunstances suggest a change is needed. There’s no ideal system. I think that, for the present circunstances, we clearly need to institute a bigger difference between first and second places, but not necessarly with the ranking system. Talking about extremes, those absurd wins like Fisichella in Brazil 2003 and Panis in Monaco 1996 would place them much
    higher in the championship standings than they deserved.

    And about the drivers at the back of the grid, correct me if I’m wrong, but they’re already classified by the ranking system, if they score no points, or if they’re tied in points…

  34. Now listen, the ranking system is already in place, from 9th downwards, and has been for decades!
    The reason why, from 8th (6th, and 5th before that) to 1st, the ranking positions receive points is indeed a mathematical way to devalue the best positions: instead of 8th place meaning 1/[infinite] of 7th, it means 1/2. It INCREASES the value of 8th place, and every position above except first.
    Now, in my opinion, it WAS a very clever way to emphasize the importance of finishing 2nd-8th, without taking too much from the Great Prize (got it?) of victory.
    Our current problems are two: lack of overtaking incentive and the possibility of, as Keith put it, a driver being champion in a 9x2nd vs. 7x1st situation. Which, of course, are related, but not necessarily always together.
    The 2nd problem is promptly fixed by the ranking system, but it definitely messes up the competition from 2nd-8th, because the positions LOOSE so much value that going one better gets exponentially difficult.
    My solution? The old systems: 10-6-4…; 9-6-4…; 8-5-3… anyone would do. If a car is so competitive it can wrap the title in this system by mid-year, then he will win with the points system anyway. If there is a lot of competition, as in 2008, 1989, and many times before, then I can’t say the medals system would’ve been fairer. The FIA study makes you think that, in the possibility of another WDC like 1986, for example, where it was fair that Prost won, we’d have a different kind of winner.
    My conclusion: rankings system could artificially spice up the show, at the cost of fairness.
    thanks for reading so far :)

  35. Why did my post go up in the middle of the others??

    1. Erm, no idea. I’ll have a look into it…

  36. I think the problem here seems to be getting the right balance of winning v. consistency: 10, 8, 6 etc rewards consistency too much whereas the medals seems to ignore it too much in favour of ‘just’ winning. Neither seems to reward those further down the order.

    So why not try and find some middle ground? With that in mind I’d like to suggest a system used in Indycars. Here, the whole field would get points in the following order:

    50, 40, 35, 32, 30, 28, 26, 24, 22, 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 12, (3 bonus points for leading most laps – change to pole?)

    Whats good about it? I think the 10 point difference for winning is a decent reward for the win – its 25% more than 2nd place whilst at the same time the amounts for 2nd – 5th do allow for someone with consistant results to stay contention – though not for the whole season. It also allows points for those further down.

    Any thoughts on this alternative? It’d be nice to hear if anyone else likes it.

    1. 50-40-35 for the first three places is the same as 10-8-7 (simply divide everything by 5). That’s even worse (more in favoring of conservatism) than the current scores in formula 1.

    2. Hmmm… the ratio is the same when divided by 5, yes, but you don’t – therefore when two people are nose-to-tail in 1st and 2nd the driver in 2nd sees a 20 point swing if he overtakes (gain 10 over other driver rather than lose 10) rather than a 4 point swing and that should provide the incentive, at least thats the way I view it.

      Anyways, it seems to do a good job in the IRL Indycars…

    3. Since everyone gets 5 times as many points, the points are in reality only worth a fifth of what they are worth in F1. It’s all relative. getting 10 points more when a win is 50 gets you only 20% closer. That’s how it works.

      It’s not the absolute number of points, but the realtive value that matters.

  37. The medal system is a great idea.

    The FIA publication is undoubtedly moronic, and I don’t understand why so many people would be upset that under such system past results would have been different. Of course they would.

    Keith’s point is precisely that such a system would reward more the drivers willing to take bigger risks, try more daring strategies and, dear lord, overtake more often. Hence it is pointless and silly to say stuff like ‘Piquet would not have been a champion’… He was a pretty smart fellow, I think we can assume he (and every other driver, for that matter) would have driven differently under a different point system…

    That’s the whole idea: to get drivers to go for gold! :)

  38. the fact is the 10-6-4-3-2-1 system worked (an almost perfect systme in my view), the new system is stupid because it only gives the winner 2 more points than the winner (we all know that..). but then our sport is run by cretins… we should go back to the old system – i have to point out there is a historical perspective here as well, in that the world championship has always been decided by a roughly similar points system and i think it’d be a short-sighted mistake to throw that away! if they have to award points for positions lower than 6th then how about a 20-15-12-10-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 for the construtors championship and 10-6-4-3-2-1 for the drivers championship…

  39. One vote for the “medals” system here.

    Is it fair that a nondescript, mediocre drive to 4th place in a very strong car will put you half a GP win ahead of someone who drove a heroic race only to be let down by his engine?

    In the medals system, both misfortune and mediocrity would increase your chances of winning a championship by the same amount: zero.

    Lackluster performances shouldn’t help any driver edge closer to being acknowledged as the best of the best — but points systems (no matter how they are weighted) allow just that.

    1. What’s unfair about that? What does the quality of the car have to do with fair? The scores reflect both the quality of the driver and that of the car (team). hence they are used in both championships. It would be virtually impossible to separate those two. You’d need a set of jurors awarding points for “performance, style and panache” or something.

      What makes it fair is that a lackluster performance is better than an even crappier one. Something the medals system will not take into account. Or that a lucky high classification (Vettel, Piquet and Rosberg) will put drivers much further up the ranking than they should be.

      Besides how is a second place a lackluster performance?

      What makes giving points for a 4th place good for overtaking is that a top driver when finding himself at the back of the grid, will at least try to go for 4th place. If the no 1 spot is the only useful position for the championship contenders, why even bother racing? Better just cruise to the end with a detuned engine and hope for better the next race?

      So the point really is that these heroic battles from last to 4th (etc) would no longe occur with medal ranking.

    2. In support of a modified point system, that drive to 4 th. place could be the result of the race leader having a misfortune at the pits or being knocked out of the track by another driver, going back to 8th. place and then driving heroically up to 4th.

      Another problem I see, and this has been pointed out previously, is that with having to save your engine for future races, if you are in say 5th. place and a contender for the WDC, why continue driving ? just go into the pits and go home and save the engine for some other day.

  40. The simplest solution I’ve seen, and one which makes most sense to me, is to simply boost the points tally for a win from 10 to 12 pts.
    That may we get a bigger differential between 1st and 2nd, plus we keep all the current points for 2nd to 8th for the other teams to hoover up.

  41. I appreciate the discussion and the sentiment but I’m still not won over by the medals idea.

    I wonder what fans will think if we have another dominant team, like Schumacher and Ferrari, running away with wins. This raises a further question as to whether viewers be more inclined to tune out because a team has technically taken the most golds and won the championship earlier in the season, or will viewers hang in there if others drivers still have a mathematical chance of attaining the championship? I suspect that if a runaway gold medal championship was won to early in the season, the gold medal idea would be promptly scrapped.

    Until a better idea surfaces, I think we should stick with the ‘best of the worst’ as they say for now…

  42. Has no one noticed what an insult it is to suggest that those who had to fight hardest for their championships (Surtees, Piquet, Rosberg) did not try their utmost to win every race? There is too little difference in the points gap between first and second under the present system, agreed, but that is easily fixed by awarding a couple more points to the winner. If Bernie thinks that F1 drivers do not strive to finish every race as high as possible, it is only the sort of crass and idiotic thinking that is typical of the man.

  43. So Bernie wants wins rewarded over consistency.

    Which is what the old 12-6-4-3-2-1 system did, except Schumacher won too many races and won the title too early – so the system was changed to reward consistency and make it so it wasnt necessarily the guy with most wins who took the title.

    Now the guys who are scoring consistently are actually fighting for the title, a la Kubica, or winning the title without the most number of wins ie Hamilton, the system apparantly isnt good enough, despite it going down quite literally to the last lap of the season. You couldnt have had a more exciting championship finish this year, and last years wasnt so bad either, so i really would love someone who developed this silly medals idea to tell me exactly what was wrong with the way the titles have gone when consistency has been rewarded.

    There is nothing wrong with Hamilton winning the title without the most number of wins, its hardly like he had heaps less than Massa, he was only one behind! Plus I personally like the idea of consistency being rewarded. Maybe a higher gap between win and second – make the points 12-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 – that way chances are the guy with the most wins will take the title, BUT you wont get someone who happens to win a few but retire from the rest beating someone who finishes every race high up.

    If Kubica had beaten to odds and taken the title this year it would have been fantastic for F1, and a brilliant spur for the midfield teams to show that you dont have to be in a Mclaren or Ferrari to win, that there is the ability to push the team to the front like BMW – that hardly would have been a bad thing for the sport – which is what Bernie is suggesting with these medals. He is essentially saying that Kubica should never have been allowed near the title fight so close to the end with only one win – never mind how many other good results he had, never mind he made the podium just as many times as the two guys in front of him – yet i beleive Kubica would have been just as deserving, if not more so. Massa and Hamilton made so many mistakes really this year, in comparison to Kubica anyways, so why would Kubica be any less deserving, yet Bernie would have had a fit if a guy with one win had taken it

    That FIA report shows that there would have been a positive difference of only one when it comes to final race showdowns, yet 6 more championships would have been finished earlier under the medals – is that what he really wants – championships being decided stupidly early – wasnt Schumacher winning it in France the other year the reason the whole points system was changed! In fact half of the championships in the last twenty years would have finished earlier than they did.

  44. Hmmm, my comment jumped up a bit there! I say comment it was more of an essay! I do get carried away on occasion! Apologies!

    Just a point concerning what would have happened when applying the medal system to previous years – Ralf Schumacher would have finished runner up in 2001, third in 2002 and fourth in 2003 – all large improvements, (especially 2001!) and results which i certainly wouldnt have complained about at the time ;)

  45. Massif Todjer
    31st January 2009, 18:16

    I think the headline should read, ‘…is flawed but relevant’

  46. I think we’re looking at this from the wrong angle. The question is not whether or not the proposed system is good or bad/better or worse than points. The real question, in my opinion, is whether its right to completely change the very basis of a competition after 59 years. 59 years. The proposed system might be fine for a new series, but this is Formula 1. If you replace the fabric the world’s greatest motorsport competition this way, you might as well make FA Cup matches 60 minutes long with a second ball added in the last ten minutes for a big finish.

    Its not that the proposed system is terrible (although I really don’t rate it highly), its that such a change shows a complete lack of respect for the heritage of our sport. And thats infuriating.

    12 points for a win, job done, lets move on. Its obvious to us all.

  47. theRoswellite
    31st January 2009, 20:12

    My God what a thread…..

    Robert McKay and Pete Walker have this absolutely correct…if you want to reward winning a bit more than at present, just increase the point differential between first and the rest of the field. Period, objective accomplished. Don’t toss the baby out because you perceive the bathwater to be a bit smelly.

    Three quick points:

    You can’t judge the seasonal results in the past by changing the points/reward system. Those teams and drivers may have raced differently under a different system. It’s a principle of logic to realize you can’t alter something in the past without changing, unpredictably, other things.

    To change the present system because you dislike the results….at the front, ignores the majority of the field. (Why not extend points down to 10th at least) I want to see “meaningful” racing between the back-markers as well as the guys at the front.

    And finally, using the Olympics as a guide for your reward system is troublesome. Under that system the biggest loser is always the guy who finished fourth, even when he may have beaten ten or twenty other guys to that position. I understand the need for simplicity in the Olympics, but we certainly don’t need to “dummy down” Formula One.

  48. The point of a ranking system isn’t to retroactively change championship results, or find different champions in future, as the champion almost always has most wins anyway. It’s to try and alter the mindset of the drivers during races to give them more motivation to seek an extra position. Whether it’s 1st/2nd, 5th/6th or 11th/12th.

    We will never have a perfect series where there are bountiful overtaking manoeuvres in every race, and we never have had for that matter. But it might be a step toward that – and surely that’s something we all want to see… drivers racing full throttle as often as possible. Even if a by product of that is a driver might finish 8th instead of 10th in the final classifications because he had 1 podium.

  49. How about:

    50 – 1st
    25 – 2nd
    15 – 3rd
    10 – 4th
    8 – 5h
    7 – 6th
    6 – 7th
    5 – 8th
    4 – 9th
    3 – 10th
    2 – 11th
    1 – 12th

    Gives a big enough difference between first and second places to make it worthwhile racing till the last corner and also rewards more of the mid-field teams.

  50. Keith, I agree that the medals system is better than 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 system and even the 10-6-4-3-2-1 system. But what about returning to a points system where the driver’s best six results from each of half of the season count? So if a driver has two wins and scored four 2nd places in the first six races of the year, finishing in 2nd place or below at any of the next three races [assuming an 18-race season] will be worthless, thus incentivising the driver to go for the win. Such a system incentivises drivers to go for the best results but doesn’t fail to reward consistency to the extent that a medal system might.

  51. I never understood what was wrong with 10, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1. It was a perfectly good system and was changed to stop the championship being won too early. Anything like a medals system could result in the championship being won shortly after half way through the championship.

    Winning should be rewarded but only by the points system. Counting wins to decide a championship could end up reqarding the occasional lucky result or fortuitous stewards decision.

    One thing that should never be considered is discounting results. All of a driver’s results should count. We had all sorts of discounted results systems in the 80s. We had the driver’s best 11 results from 16 races and one season insanely we had the driver’s best 4 scores from the first 8 races added on to his best four from the second 8 races. Most of these rules were put in place to reward fast unreliable cars such as the early turbos.

    Everything a driver does during a season should be reflected in the championship table. If he screws up one qualifying session and as a result records a lowly race finish why should he be rewarded by that being stricken from the record?

  52. Keith I think your analysis of the FIA’s “The medals proposal” was spot on, and I guess that I’m one of the few that actually think that medals are a good idea. I can’t see a flaw in the logic of how the driver with the most race wins is crowned champion. From a P.R. perspective, I can hear the new commentators now…”Lewis Hamilton wins the Gold at Singapore!” and there he is smiling like an idiot, standing amid the flashes of cameras and frenzied fans with a shiny gold medal around his neck. I think it’s brilliant. The idea really deserves another look.

  53. Whatever system is used the basic problems concerning the lack of overtaking in F1 are not purely down to the points system and car aerodynamics. Alot is down to drivers being too afraid of attracting the attentions of the stewards and incurring a penalty in the process, for the slightest infraction.
    If we look at the facts, drivers in the not too distant past who had the balls to take risks were often slapped with penalties of different sorts. Juan Montoya was just the type of driver the sport needed back in 2001, fast, confident, aggressive. Yet it didn’t take long for him to attract the attention of the powers at be and to be punished for it. Sepang 2002 and Indy 2003 are two very good examples of Montoya falling foul, and being unduly penalised.
    We saw the same with Hamilton last year, coming undone with the kind of offences we have seen certain drivers escape with their entire careers.
    The point being is that other drivers will look at these cases and think, I better not take a chance racing Massa or Alonso or whoever as they are racing for the title for example, I’ll get a penalty given against me and lose points.
    That is not the way to be in racing. It stifles talent and ruins the spectacle. Back in 2006 in Canada, we saw a great scrap between Montoya and the then rookie Nico Rosberg. Rosberg ended up the worse off but I admired he for going wheel to wheel with a driver as big as Montoya, and in some cases, rubbing wheels with him, at 160mph. That is what people pay to see, and if the officials got off the pot and allowed the boys to do their jobs, then we would see a hell of a lot more drama.

    1. Good suggestion ! Bernie has used this to help the Ferrari drivers by the way – the stewards are more strict with any team other than Ferrari

  54. I vote for going back to 10-6-4-3-2-1 points. If a driver is good enough to wrap up the championship by midway then they deserve it, we should be congratulating them.

    If we stay with points for the first 8 drivers home, bump up the winner to 12 points and leave the rest as is. 10-8 isn’t enough of a difference

  55. What’s wrong with rewarding consistency? Actually, you have to do it because cars are driven so close to their theoretical limits these days that the driver who makes the fewest mistakes in the fastest car is the winner. It’s a bit boring, but that’s life in F1 now.

    There is very little spare margin for the adventurous driver to exploit, that’s why we don’t see much banzai stuff.

    I say the current system is fine. It has resulted in the entire season being close, which is a good thing. But allow drivers to drop their two worst races, so if they want to have a go but come short, they won’t be penalised.

    And allow team orders. It’s a team sport, remember.

    (Why am I here? I should be after PatrickL. I think it subtracted two hours off my South African time zone)

  56. This analysis is nothing more than a bit of fun, because, as was pointed out in the article, drivers race to the rules in force at the time. It would be like going back and seeing who would have been Premier League Champions in Football if matches had finished after 45 minutes at half time rather than 90 minutes.

    Personally I prefer a points based system, but I think the current points on offer need revising so there is a bigger reward for winning. I wouldn’t go back to just the first six places earning points as in the 1990s, as with increased reliability you can get in a position where only three teams get points.

  57. Nobody has mentioned the fact that the constructors champ. points would remain the same. The drivers are employed by the teams who want to put the most points on the board. A kamikaze run for first or third followed by a crash would not be tolerated by the teams. I think there would not be many occasions where the drivers would be more motivated for the position.

    1. Well, Keith already pointed this out as a flaw in Ecclestone’s proposal. Still indeed it would probably kill most (if not all) of the added overtaking incentive that the medals are supposed to bring.

      Not sure why the constructors need to get points though. They could be ranked according to medals (and after that lower places) too. If it’s about the transport costs being paid, then they woild need at least an 8th place finish instead of a point.

  58. OH MY GOD! the answer is SO SIMPLE! keep the points system as it is but just INCREASE the 10 points to 12 POINTS! done. (12,8,6,5,4,3,2,1)

  59. I think the old points system of 10 6 4 3 2 1 was fine. And changing it because Schumacher won so quickly was nonsense. I am not a fan of the lucky talented Schuey. But it was because he had a superior car (not skill), and the fact that the rest of the field squabbled between each other to catch him, that cost them the wins and a short championship.
    If Schumacher had had one major challenger in 2002/2004 it would have made it more difficult for him to take the crown. Like in 2003.

  60. Bernie has been working too hard… needs a rest
    and am tired of crap proposals nd decisions… am still quite $%#^# with the “new” pit stop thingy…

  61. Hi Keith, I am from Brasil and I went to your blog through F1 Around, a Brasilian F1 blog that often indicates your posts, so here am I

    Now, back to the post subject, I think the better pointing system would be 10 7 5 4 3 2 1, the Top 7 being awarded with points, plus 1 point to the Pole and 1 to the Fastest Lap, with a perfect weekend resulting in 12 points for the driver, and pushing the drivers to the maximum both in qualify and race, not making him stay comfortably sat in second place knowing that he’s earning only 2 points less than the winner

    And I think the medal system is lame, totally screwed, a championship is a championship, if Bernie wants medals, then create a Formula for the Olympics,

  62. One of the most HILARIOUS and TERRIBLE ideas EVER invisioned by Bernie.

    He has completely lost it.

    I don’t think I could come up with a worse way to figure out the championship if I stuck my hand up a horses backside.

    The points system will remain.

    At most they will alter the amount of points awarded.

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