The FIA has delayed the controversial new “most wins” championship system until 2010.
The surprise move came shortly after the F1 Teams’ Association pointed (FOTA) out that the last-minute introduction of a new scoring system broke the FIA’s own rules.
The 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 system used last year will be retained for 2009.
A FOTA statement read (emphasis added):
Following the decision of the World Motorsport Council of the 17 March 2009 to change the way the drivers’ championship is awarded, the Teams gathered and unanimously agreed to question the validity of this decision.
FOTA had made a proposal that was carefully based on the results of a Global Audience Survey, which allowed listening to preferences of the public, and all the Teams firmly believe that these indications should be properly taken into account.
The amendment to the sporting regulations proposed by the World Motorsport Council was not performed in accordance with the procedure provided for by Appendix 5 of the Sporting Regulations and, as per the provisions of the article 199 of the FIA International Sporting Code, it is too late for FIA to impose a change for the 2009 season that has not obtained the unanimous agreement of all the competitors properly entered into the 2009 Formula 1 Championship.
Since the change to the scoring system unanimously agreed by the Teams and proposed to FIA did not receive approval of the WMSC, no change can occur in 2009, and the Teams wish to reaffirm their willingness to collaborate with the FIA in order to jointly define a new point system for the 2010 season within a comprehensive set of measures aimed at further stimulating the attractiveness of the F1 Sport.
A short response from the FIA offered to defer the new rules to 2010, without making any reference to FOTA’s statement:
On 17 March, the FIA World Motor Sport Council unanimously rejected FOTA’s proposed amendment to the points system for the Formula One Drivers’ Championship. The ‘winner takes all’ proposal made by the commercial rights holder (who had been told that the teams were in favour) was then approved.
If, for any reason, the Formula One teams do not now agree with the new system, its implementation will be deferred until 2010.
The claim the FIA “had been told that the teams were in favour” seems rather weak given FOTA’s recommendations for the sport issued several weeks ago explicitly stated it favoured a revised points system and not a wins-based solution.
However the International Sporting Code makes it clear that the FIA cannot change the sporting rules so close to the start of the new season:
199 (c). Changes to sporting rules and to all regulations other than those referred to in b) above are published at least 20 days prior to the opening date for entry applications for the championship concerned, but never later than 30 November each year.
(d) Shorter notice periods than those mentioned in b) and c) may be applied, provided that the unanimous agreement of all competitors properly entered for the championship or series concerned is obtained.
The FIA’s last-minute decision to impose the ‘most wins’ rule, ignoring FOTA’s recommendations, drew massive criticism from fans including a record number of comments on one article on this site.
Since then several F1 drivers have spoken out against the new rules and the haste with which they were brought in.
It looks rather as though Max Mosley, in his eagerness to put one over the teams, has overplayed his hand.
Score one to FOTA.