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.
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.
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 drop.io.