Bernie Ecclestone talks some sense

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Bernie Ecclestone, Red Bull, 2008, 470150

Bernie Ecclestone is talking about getting rid of championship points:

What I want to see is the winner of the most number of races as world champion, and second places only to be used if the top two finish the season with the same number of wins. The constructors would keep the existing system.

And you know what? He’s dead right.

Ecclestone reckons, “the key word in motor racing is ‘racing’. And right now there are not enough overtaking manoeuvres in the sport because drivers are happy not to take risks and claim second place because it is only two points less than winning the race.”

I don’t think that’s true all of the time – but I do think it’s true in certain championship scenarios.

A good example is 2005. With four races to go, Fernando Alonso led Kimi Raikkonen by 103points to 76. With a 27 point margin Alonso needed only 14 points (three fifths and a sixth) to be sure of the title. The title was something of a foregone conclusion.

But if the championship was to have been decided by who won the most races, it would have been much more open: Alonso had six wins to Raikkonen’s five, so he would have had to keep beating Raikkonen to be sure of staying ahead.

I’ve argued this case quite a few times. Here are some examples looking at the 2006 F1 championship, other racing series (and again here), and why the current points system doesn’t work (and some more thoughts on that).

This discussion often leads to people suggesting all manner of different points systems. But I think all points systems are flawed because they over-reward reliability and consistency when the first and foremost thing that matters is winning.

That the current points system is ridiculous and was introduced as a knee-jerk reaction to stop Michael Schumacher winning championships in July hardly needs to be argued. Had it been used in 1999 Eddie Irvine would have been champion

Getting rid of the points system and awarding the drivers’ title to whoever won the most races would encourage teams to be more radical in their approaches to racing and make F1 more unpredictable. It would make the sport easier for non-fans to understand and more accessible.

Benie’s hit the nail on the head with this one.

59 comments on “Bernie Ecclestone talks some sense”

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  1. Sorry Keith, I disagree. Drivers winning the championship on wins alone will put an end to nailbiting down-to-the-wire championships.

    Imagine how much less interesting (than they already were) Schumachers championsip-winning seasons would have been if they calulated it on wins alone. Especially when he had Rubens moving over for him on the occasions that he wasn’t quicker than his team-mate.

    This would also impact the lower teams – the midfield wouldn’t be as tight as it is now if the teams further down the grid weren’t fighting for that last championship point.

    I don’t see what was wrong with the old points system that simply rewarded the winning driver moreso than the one that came 2nd. If they need more points paying positions then simply start at 12 and work down.

  2. Paul Sainsbury
    19th March 2008, 13:35

    I would also love to see reward of some kind for pole position.

  3. It is hard to argue against consistency when it comes to points, but for it when it comes to engines and gearboxes.

  4. Robert Mckay
    19th March 2008, 13:48

    Cooperman, I think Bernie said the WCC would still be decided on points, so the midfield battle would be unaffected.

    But I this is a smokescreen, to be honest. Here’s a possible (unlikely, but still) scenario: Driver A wins 10 of 18 races, but DNF’s the other 8. Driver B wins 8, and finishes the other 10 in second position. It’ll take a  heck of a lot to convince me that Driver B isn’t the moral victor of that championship. To me, the champion is the best driver over the course of the entire season. A large part of any championship, by definition almost, is in consistency. Some will disagree, and that’s fair enough.

    What someone needs to do is to go through the statistics and find how many seasons over the past 20 years the driver who won most races won the world championship. That’d be interesting. I think most (not all, but most) will have the WDC as the driver with most wins from that year.

    I think Bernie is going a bit too far in the wrong direction here. All that is really required is as Cooperman says, to modify the gap between first and second. The main problem is that 2 pts is not enough – 4 points at least, I’d say, if not five (though 13 for a win sounds a bit odd), that should have the side-effect of more or less ensuring that the person who has most wins has most points anyway.

    But we know why the 2 points gap was introduced! It was deliberately intended to keep things closer than they ought to be, in order to stop people like Schumacher running away with it (didn’t work, anyway). It might have been a purely Max decision, but, again, this is prime F1 "have-your-cake-and-eat-it" territory – they want things close in the championship, but they want drivers going all out for the win, etc. It’s difficult to swing it both ways!

  5. I couldn’t disagree more. Consistency should be rewarded, drivers can win races by luck alone, however they can’t achieve consistency by luck.

    If Bernie is serious about making racing better, he should listen to Patrick Head. When qualifying puts faster cars/driver at the front of the grid, and slower cars towards the back, it stands to reason that there is going to be little overtaking in a race.

    I think the points system should be further extended (i.e. use the same points system that MotoGP uses)

  6. AH! This thread is off to a good start BOTH Cooperman and Paul have it right.  Wins alone are NOT the way to go as there are only two or three  drivers capable of Bernie’s version of Champion, they are the Ferrari, McLaren and this year maybe BMW drivers. All others would be excluded.  An exagerated example but certainly possible considering Bernie’s format……
    Driver "A" could go all out doing banzai drives and win 4 races but DNF 4 others. Driver "B"shows better control and race management and car care, finishes second 8 of the same races.
    Who is the REAL champion?  Consistancy has VALUE and should be rewarded properly.  Paul’s idea of points  for pol,  and I’ll expand that  to included points for fastest lap and maybe points for laps led is a BETTER measure of the REAL champion. Race wins only is a BAD idea, a VERY bad idea.

  7. WOW! This thread is lively this morning……..three responses
    posted while I was typing my last!  Good to see everyone active today. Cheers!

  8. They should also include a point for pole and another point for fastest lap too.

  9. I have to say Nik I think that is a very bad idea.

    In GP2 they give points for fastest lap. So in 2006 Lewis Hamilton won the championship a few hours after the penultimate round when they adjudged Giorgio Pantano had set the fastest lap of the race under yellow flags, stripped the point from him, and gave it to Hamilton.

    Do we really want the risk of that kind of thing happening in F1?

    Or imagine a scenario where, in the final round, a driver only needs one point to be sure of the championship. He wouldn’t even bother racing – they’d just send him out with a qualifying set up on.

    I’ll comment on some of the other stuff a bit later…

  10. Fastest lap and pole should get additional points, that would keep them racing to the end of a race not just cruisin round.

    Teams who have both cars finishing should get bonus points. 
     They changes these rules to stop Schumi the great, was always a bad idea to do that!

  11. I think increasing the points gap between 1st and 2nd as well as awarding points for laps lead would do the trick. Consistency would still be rewarded and there would also be more fights for the lead as there would be a reward just for leading the race.

  12. True, but I don’t we will ever get a point system we all agree on. But if there are more points there for the taking each weekend, other drivers could/would be fuelled up to stop that. In your senario, I could easily see Ferrari trying to stop that from happening. If the driver only needs one point from the weekend, does it matter if that is from pole/fastest lap or P8 ?

  13. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.  The only reason for changing the present system is that it’s not doing the job it’s supposed to.  So you must be saying that the wrong drivers won in the past.  Just who, exactly?  Kimi?  Alonso, Schumacher, Hakkinen?  Are you going to take Keke’s championship away from him?  How about John Surtees?

    Nelson Piquet’s championships were all won against very tough opposition and were nail-biting affairs – will you take his achievements away just because he didn’t win as many races as a couple of his competitors?  In those years he emerged as the victor, he was the best driver even though his car was no better than the competition – he earned his championships more than others who have walked most of a season’s races through having the best car.

    I’ve seen it suggested that Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve are the only two drivers who didn’t deserve to be champion.  Yet Damon was Schumacher’s only realistic competition for a couple of years and he ran him close.  He deserves his championship for hard work alone (just as his father did).  And Jacques beat the Shoe fair and square.

    You cannot propose to change a system that clearly does what it is supposed to.  If you are saying that it has failed, prove it.  Bernie is doing what he always does – trying to deflect attention away from his mismanagement of CVC’s affairs by creating controversy where there is none.

  14. This has certainly stirred things up a bit!

    I read Bernie’s comments the other day and to be honest I could see where he was coming from, but I can’t see it working in reality.

    Yes, it would be nice to see the guy who wins most races win the championship but at the same time consistency has to be rewarded as well as outright speed.  As races progress it is nice from a spectator’s point of view if the front guys are continuing to try to make passes for the win rather than just accepting second place.

    But from a strategic point of view, it’s also intriguing to see how different drivers cope with having to achieve only certain placings in the last few races – some like Alonso are very good at achieving what he needs, while others like Lewis seem to struggle with that approach and has always gone for the win.

    Perhaps it’s Bernie’s desire for Lewis to be champion which has prompted this change of direction for the points structure?

  15. I could argue this point either way…  On one hand I want drivers fighting all-out for the win, but on the other hand I don’t want the championship decided too early because there’s not enough races left for them to win.

    The 12-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 idea sounds promising, maybe even giving more of an incentive for being on the podium: 14-10-7-5-4-3-2-1.

    However… I think we need to stay away from the bonus points for everything under the sun… this is what NASCAR does… they have a 10 point bonus for winning the race, a 5 point bonus for leading a lap, 5 point bonus for pole, and then award points all the way back to 42nd place or something like that.  The last bit of that led to teams driving 3 wheeled cars at 20mph around the track just to move up to 41st place.  Of course they’ve made all sorts of rules to prevent all these ways of manipulating the system… but it is all still a mess and very difficult to follow.

  16. Quite agree, Scootin159 – can you imagine the national papers trying to explain to the layman every possible scenario that would make driver A or driver B champion at the end of the season if they also had to factor in pole position, points led, fastest laps, the number of laps he led, etc. etc. – it would blow your mind!!

    Just defending Damon Hill (can’t help it, sorry!), I did read somewhere a few years back that on the points system we have today Hill would have won the ’94 championship so to take away his ’96 title would be a little harsh! I think that if things were to change, F1 would do what it normally does and leave the past alone – ignoring the fact that they haven’t applied the movement in goalposts to previous years!

  17. Hes right about the drivers not wanting to take risks to win when theres only 2 points between first and second. I think they should go back to the old points system of 10,6,4,3,2,1. I believe it was only changed to 8 points for second because of the Ferrari dominant era and as Ferrari were going to win every race it made the championship a bit closer.

  18. Cooperman – you can see it in the third chart on the 1994 season statistics.

  19. Cheers Keith – this site’s like a tardis of F1!

  20. I agree with the masses here (I think). I don’t like this idea as I don’t think it would mix things up that much. Points are transparent and easy to understand. Yes, f1 is about winning but a big part of technical excelllence is consistency.

    Perhaps the current points system isn’t quite right but it generally speaking provides excitement. And what is f1 if it isn’t entertainment?

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