Hamilton leads title race – with no wins!

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes, Barcelona, 2007, 2Lewis Hamilton leads the 2007 championship following Sunday’s race – he has 30 points, Fernando Alonso 28, Felipe Massa 27 and Kimi Raikkonen.

It raises an interesting question. Which of the following results is better:

  • Three second places and a third
  • Two wins, one fifth and a six
  • One win, one second, one third and a fifth

Those are Hamilton, Massa and Alonso’s results so far. On the face of it, does Hamilton really deserve to be ahead of Massa?

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not taking anything away from Hamilton. His start to the season has exceeded even the expectations of those who knew just how special he before he started in F1.

But as I’ve said before I don’t think the current points system rewards race results fairly. I think race wins are far more important than consistent runs to lower points-paying positions.

Giving eight points for a win was a bad decision made as a knee-jerk reaction to Michael Schumacher’s suffocating domination of the 2002 championship.

Ranking drivers in terms of their most best results would shift the focus of a championship effort towards winning races rather than simply finishing them.

Plus if it was used across the motor sports spectrum it would make comparing the efforts of different drivers in different series far better.

If we ranked the top 2007 championship contenders by their results we get:

1. Massa (two wins)
2. Alonso (one win, one, second)
3. Raikkonen (one win, two thirds)
4. Hamilton (three seconds).

If that’s a little harsh on Hamilton, it’s far less harsh than the current system is on Massa.

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9 comments on Hamilton leads title race – with no wins!

  1. It is difficult, I agree. Keke Rosberg won the 1982 World Championship with just one win, where Lauda, Prost and Pironi, Arnoux and Watson won two races. Pironi was almost certainly the most consistent but had his career ended four races from the end of the season.
    All I will say it, it’s early days, but I still think Massa is be favourite as the season pans-out.

  2. These things even out in the end. Not that I’m supporting the present system that is weighted too much in favour of consistency, but the best usually wins over a whole season regardless of how the points are awarded. Rosberg certainly deserved his championship because he finished almost every race near the front in an underpowered car whereas his competitors were either crashing out or squabbling with their teammates. A slight adjustment of one more point for victory would make things just about right, I think.

  3. Steve said on 15th May 2007, 12:29

    Scoring the first 6 places as we used to have would have a slightly different look to the rankings:
    1. Massa – 23
    2. Alonso – 22
    3. Hamilton – 22
    4. Raikkonen – 18
    Ranking drivers for winning and consistency is a fine balance. I quite like the points scoring system at present as it favours consistency, but that does leave the sport with drivers possibly settling for second place and not going for the win.
    Football rewards winning and consistency. If after 38 matches you don’t have the points, then you don’t deserve to win. Motor racing is the same.

  4. Another way to look at it – There are 2 Ferraris on the grid that are at the moment better cars than McLaren. The other McLaren is driven by defending world champion. So there 3 other drivers that in theory should occupy the podium. But Hamilton so far managed in every race to get there, unlike the other 3 …

    However I think there should be some extra motivation to win races.

  5. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 15th May 2007, 14:41

    Schwarzwolf, I think the quote at the top of your own site says it best:

    How the hell can you drive a race car, fight with people, and think all the time about points for a bloody championship? How can you settle for a safe third or something, because it’s four points? Jesus, people like that should be accountants, not racing drivers.

    Gilles Villeneuve

  6. When I learned about A1GP’s point system, it struck me odd that their points-for-positions are only one point apart: 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1.

    Throughout F1’s history, the podium positions tend to be about three points apart, with third being two points apart from the ones given to the cars “in points” in the field. To me, it sounds like the question is, should we be giving points to cars that don’t podium?

    If the points system were simplified like this: 4-2-1

    We’d get:

    Massa 8
    Alonso 7 (win breaks tie)
    Hamilton 7

    Here, the championship still looks hairs-breadth close, but I think the drivers are ranked in the order that fans would place them in, and looks an awful lot like Steve’s suggestion.

    If we consider Bernie’s “a win must be worth more” observation, and if we must award points for sixth place or lower, the answer seems to be that there must be more points between the drivers on the podium.

    If the worry is a single driver being able to run the championship, the two things to ask are first, isn’t that the point of having a championship, and second, how about basing the points on the driver’s five or six best finishes as was done in the past? (Or will that encourage too many mechanical failures?)

  7. I like Villnueve’s view about the championship. But there ought to be a championship in order to link the races together in a sensible form.

    The points system needed changing at the end of 2002, not because of Michael Schumacher’s dominance invalidating the top end of the points, but because the manufacturer hegemony had caused major problems for the bottom end of the points scale. I might have been upset about my favourite team Jordan being ninth in 2003, but even I had to admit that was a lot fairer than the fifth they would have got under the 2002 system.

    I would be in favour of a new points system combining the strengths of the current and previous system, which would go something like 15-12-10-7-6-5-2-1. This makes wins, podiums and 6th places mean something significant compared to the places beneath it. I would also be in favour of a point for fastest lap, as per the system used in the 1950s (pure speed should count for something, even if it’s unsustainable).

    And as for the drivers themselves, a little more Villnueve attitude would not go amiss!

  8. I think that there’s nothing wrong with the current system. We should note/understand that the best drivers will always outperform the bad drivers, no matter in what system they race with it. A system is designed so that not so good drivers have a chance to catch in.

    “If we ranked the top 2007 championship contenders by their results we get:

    1. Massa (two wins)
    2. Alonso (one win, one, second)
    3. Raikkonen (one win, two thirds)
    4. Hamilton (three seconds).”

    What you mentioned above is quite alright, but not fair for other drivers. It’s certainly not Hamiltons fault if others cannot win races. Im personnaly a ferrari and Massa fan, but i dont want a easy job for Massa he must prove he can win more and finish always on top.

  9. Journeyer said on 17th May 2007, 12:44

    Simply put, to be world champion, you have to prove you’re fastest, not just the most consistent. Consistency is good, but that is not the biggest emphasis of a champion for me.

    I will partly disagree with Bolshoi. If you’re a not-so-good driver, you don’t deserve to be champion, simple as that. You have to be VERY GOOD and VERY FAST to have a shot at being champion. Sure, we’ll get seasons like 2002 and 2004, but in the day of the manufacturer, those years will probably happen less often.

    But I will agree with Bolshoi in that the best driver will always win, no matter what the system. It’s just that a mid-season tally nowadays does not really reflect the overall performance of today’s F1 drivers.

    The results-based ranking is interesting, but a bit confusing to follow if you’re a newbie viewer.

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