A point about points

The 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 points system introduced by the FIA in 2003 has failed to make subsequent Formula One championships – and other championships using the same system – any more exciting.

Fernando Alonso, Renault, Bahrain, 2006The strongest effect of granting of extra points for lower positions has been to encourage championship leading drivers to settle for second or third place finishes instead of fighting for wins. Fernando Alonso did this to great effect in 2005.

Already in 2006 the World Rally Championship is practically a done deal, with Sebastian Loeb unlikely to lose too much of his 21 point lead unless he suffers atypical unreliability. In 2003 the late Richard Burns very nearly won the title without winning a single rally.

Bernd Schneider, DTM, Mercedes, Laustizring, 2006 DTM racer Mattias Ekstrom has suffered two car failures in the first two rounds of the season and has already said that thanks to the points system his hopes of beating rival Bernd Schneider are very slim.

The previous points system (10-6-4-3-2-1) was dropped at the end of the dismal 2002 Formula One season as a means of making the championship battle last longer. In 2005 it actually had the opposite effect – Kimi Raikkonen would have remained in contention for the championship after the Brazilian Grand Prix, where Alonso won the title last year.

It’s time the governing body realised that the present system over-rewards lower placed finishes. Had the system been used in 1999, Eddie Irvine would have been world champion. There cannot be a more illuminating example of the system’s critical flaws than that.

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