It couldn’t have escaped your attention that Bernie Ecclestone has a new idea that he thinks will encourage overtaking in Formula One. The idea centres around the way the winner and subsequent finishers are awarded their ultimate prize, currently points that go towards a grand total which eventually decides the finishing order of the championship. It isn’t rocket science and it has worked ever since the championship was formed in 1950. Bernie though, thinks this should all change…
Bucking the trend of the last 59 seasons, Ecclestone is fully intent on introducing a medal system, much like how the Olympics are played out. The country with the most gold medals after two weeks of competing in the Games essentially wins the competition, and should it be tied between two nations, the the amount of silver medals is considered, then bronze. And having visited the Beijing Games earlier in the year, Bernie is convinced this is the way forward for Formula One.
Under Ecclestone’s proposal, the winner of the race will receive a shiny gold medal. The driver with the most at the end of the season is declared the world champion. However, Formula One is currently made up of two championships; the drivers and the constructors. But Ecclestone feels that the constructors championship should remain as it is, with 10 points being awarded to the winning team, 8 points for second, 6 for third, 5 for fourth and so on down to 1 point for the eighth-placed team.
Currently, I do not understand what happens to the fourth, fifth, sixth (seventh and eighth) placed drivers under Bernie’s new scheme – years ago the top six finishers received points, and this was changed in 2003 to close up the championship and hopefully help end the dominance of Ferrari which at the time, was putting many people off watching. Assuming it is only the top three drivers who would be now be involved in the awarding of medals, Ecclestone believes the necessity to overtake will be increased, thus improving the spectacle for the fans.
In 2005, Fernando Alonso took his first world championship after a season-long battle with Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen. The championship was a good one, although Alonso was clever enough to realise that once he got the lead of the title, the need to push for wins wasn’t always appropriate. If Alonso was running in second place in a race behind Raikkonen, he would only lose two points – a margin which is easily recoverable when luck switched allegiance. And this is how Alonso played his championship campaign which resulted in much success as Fernando took the title with two races still to run. Alonso ultimately ended the year 21 points clear of Kimi Raikkonen, and more than double that of Michael Schumacher.
Under the medal scheme though, Alonso would still have been world champion, but it would have been much closer. Raikkonen and Alonso both won seven times, which would have resulted in seven gold medals each. However, Alonso brought his Renault home in second place a total of five times, Raikkonen only managing three runner-up spots. Of course, if it were medals they were going for, then maybe Alonso would have pushed harder in some races. And maybe the US Grand Prix would have gone ahead with a full field of drivers.
I disagree with having two different points systems as I feel it adds unnecessary confusion for new fans. If medals is the way to go, then it should be a blanket change across both championships. Similarly, if Bernie wants points, or to award farmyard animals to the podium-placed drivers, then the same should be applied to the constructors. I also disagree with Bernie that Formula One isn’t exciting enough. This year we saw plenty of overtaking; Nick Heidfeld passed two cars in one corner during the rain-soaked finale in Spa Francorchamps, Lewis Hamilton had more goes up the inside than you can shake a stick at and Felipe Massa also tried many times.
If there was any one race where overtaking wasn’t as regular than normal when it should have been plentiful (Valencia aside), then it would have to be Monza. Many drivers thought about it, but then decided to play it safe, considering the trouble Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa found themselves in the week previous. So perhaps the FIA need to ensure that if a driver does have a go at a pass, he isn’t then penalised two hours later*. That alone would encourage overtaking more than anything else. Improve the strength of the cars so they don’t fall apart at the merest suggestion of contact with another and you find yourself with a winning formula, do you not?
Ecclestone will put his idea to the FIA World Motorsport Council meeting in December, where he is confident it will pass judgment.
It’s going to happen. All the teams are happy. The whole reason for this was that I was fed up with people talking about no overtaking. The reason there’s no overtaking is nothing to do with the circuit or the people involved, it’s to do with the drivers not needing to overtake.
If you are in the lead and I’m second, I’m not going to take a chance and risk falling off the road or doing something silly to get two more points. If I need to do it to win a gold medal, because the most medals win the world championship, I’m going to do that. I will overtake you. Bernie Ecclestone.
Is Bernie playing the Mosley-game when he says “all the teams are happy”? I’m yet to read a quote from any of the teams about this proposed change, much like how the mysterious letters of support Max received during his saga in April never saw the light of day. One person who is happy to go on record though is future BBC pundit Eddie Jordan, and he isn’t entirely convinced it is a good idea…
I think it’s nonsense. The focus of everyone in Formula One at the moment must be on the current situation with costs and cost cutting, and nothing else. The rest is just dressing it up.
He’s tinkering with something that in my opinion he has lost the understanding of. He thinks people are only interested in winning the races. I’m sorry, but there’s just not enough thought put into this. It should be put to one side and discussed by him and Max Mosley, and for Bernie Ecclestone to say it’s coming with the full approval of all the teams, I simply don’t believe it. Eddie Jordan.
So what do you think about Bernie’s new idea – the beginning of a new era where drivers will really attack each other for wins? Or the heralding of another era where two teams win everything and the backmarkers come-and-go like the wind?
*Unless of course, it is absolutely and unequivocally necessary and obvious.