Would ‘most wins’ make title race closer?

Vettel would have a better chance of catching Button under 'most wins'

Vettel would have a better chance of catching Button under 'most wins'

Damon wrote an excellent comment on how the championship would look under the proposed ‘most wins’ system.

He reckons the ‘most wins’ system would make Button’s championship a virtual certainty. But I’m not sure – and halfway through writing a reply of my own I decided it would be better to dedicate a post to the idea and see what you all think…

The medals system and Alonso’s championships

Schumacher and Alonso would have been tied going into the 2006 title decider

Schumacher and Alonso would have been tied going into the 2006 title decider

For a similar example to today we can look back to 2006. After the Canadian Grand Prix the points standings were:

1. Fernando Alonso 84 points (six wins)
2. Michael Schumacher 59 points (two wins)

As with Vettel today, Schumacher needed four wins over Alonso to draw level.

And what happened? Here are the standings after Italy that year:

1. Fernando Alonso 108 points (six wins)
2. Michael Schumacher 106 points (six wins)

The two went into the final round at Brazil with Alonso virtually guaranteed the title. Under the ‘medals’ system things would have been different:

1. Fernando Alonso 126 points (seven wins)
2. Michael Schumacher 116 points (seven wins)

And the same goes for the 2005 title-decider at Brazil (which had two more rounds to follow after it) between Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen:

1. Fernando Alonso 111 points (six wins)
2. Kimi Raikkonen 86 points (six wins)

Raikkonen had overcome a three-win deficit. As I wrote at the time, under a ‘most wins’ system the championship decider would have been rather less one-sided.

As ever, it’s true that drivers would have behaved differently a different points system been in use at the time.

‘Most wins’ in 2009

Jenson Button, Brawn, Monaco, 2009

Jenson Button, Brawn, Monaco, 2009

If the ‘most wins’ system were being used this year, Damon argues that the championship would be effectively over because Vettel “would need five races and five wins to get the lead.”

I disagree – if the medals system were being used this year the championship would be more open.

Red Bull are widely expected to be very competitive at the next two circuits: Istanbul and Silverstone. Say Vettel wins them both, with Button second. Under the present points system he would have reduced Button’s advantage from 28 points to 24, or 14%.

Under a ‘most wins’ system Vettel would have halved the gap to Button from four wins to two.

(Under FOTA’s proposed 12-9-7-5-4-3-2-1 system, Vettel would have cut Button’s lead from 35 to 29.)

We’ve had a lot of debate about whether the ‘most wins’ system is an appropriate way to reward drivers (many think it under-values consistency) and whether it would be confusing to have a dual points system (I agree).

The FIA has destroyed the credibility of the ‘most wins’ system with their unilateral attempt to force the issue without consulting the teams. But I still think the essential idea of giving the championship to the driver who wins the most races is a sound one.

If Vettel wins the next couple of races, I expect we’ll hear from Mr Ecclestone about it again.

More on ‘most wins’

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129 comments on Would ‘most wins’ make title race closer?

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  1. Journeyer said on 25th May 2009, 11:17

    Red Bull are widely expected to be very competitive at the next two circuits: Istanbul and Silverstone. Say Vettel wins them both, with Button second. Under the present points system he would have reduced Button’s advantage from 28 points to 24, or 14%.

    Under a ‘most wins’ system Vettel would have halved the gap to Button from four wins to two.

    But you could apply the same logic the other way. If Button won the next 2 races with Vettel 2nd, the gap would only go up to 32 from 28. Such a gap would mean that the title can’t be sealed until Singapore in September – and anything (like a retirement or three) can happen before then to shave that gap.

    But with the medals system, if Button won the next 2 races, he’d lead Vettel 7-1! At that rate, Button can easily seal it by August even if he retired from a race or two.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 25th May 2009, 11:59

      Under that scenario, it doesn’t matter what system you use – Button’s got it in the bag anyway.

    • There have also been races (e.g. Bahrain) where Vettel could and possibly should have beaten the Brawns but usually for strategic reasons, he’s ended up losing. I think Red Bull have underperformed so far tactically, so there’s no guarantee that Vettel will win on the “Red Bull tracks”.

  2. One problem with the “most wins” model is that there will be no need to race for any other position, once the race leader is leading by more than 15-20 secs, with the amount of competitiveness present today.

    • Gman said on 25th May 2009, 19:01

      Exactly the way I see it amigo- what would the midfield teams have to race for in this case?

  3. GKN said on 25th May 2009, 11:32

    With the Points system, the championship is not very open, for example Hamilton or Raikkonen needs to win all remaining races and Button is allowed only one secondplace, then the standing is equal after the last race. With the medalsystem there is equal standing if any other driver wins the 4(Vettel) or 5 next races independent of Buttons result. Conclusion: Medalsystem makes the title race closer.

  4. Daffid said on 25th May 2009, 11:52

    I entirely agree with your logic that it would make it closer Keith, clearly it would – but I don’t want a championship that is closer, I want one that is fairer!

    I’m not sure it would keep it exciting either, as I would just feel cheated if the ‘wrong’ person in my eyes won. If Vettel or whomever clinched the championship with 8 wins to 7 for Jensen, but only 2/3 the points, it would be wrong to me.

    I think also this year is a bad example, ‘most wins’ will be at its worst when someone takes the championship with only 4 and few points.

    F1 is not tennis. It’s fair enough to win tennis with less points, because there it’s about the ‘big’ points.
    But there’s too many other factors in F1 outwith your control – backmarkers, mechanical failure, weather etc – so it needs to be about consistency. In these days of little overtaking it’s already too much about the ‘big’ qualifying lap, let’s not go any further down that road.

  5. newdecade said on 25th May 2009, 11:53

    The medal system is only any good if you have 2 or more drivers competing for wins on something like a level playing field. That is not what is happening at the moment.

    • Dougie said on 25th May 2009, 12:12

      The grid is closer than it has ever been in the whole history of the championship… it has never been a more level playing field than it is now.

    • newdecade said on 25th May 2009, 18:12

      if its a level playing field then 5 out of 6 races wouldnt have been won by one person. it doesnt matter how close the rest of the grid are if they are not competing for wins.

    • Dougie said on 25th May 2009, 19:53

      Just because the wins are shared does not make it a level playing field. Good on Button for making the most of the most competitive season to date. You look at the grid over the first 6 races, we’ve had Red Bull, Ferrari, Toyota, Renault, BMW and almost McLaren all at the front… and also at the back. The only consistency is Brawn, and they have not always been fastest. Its up to the other teams to make the most of this competitive situation.

  6. persempre said on 25th May 2009, 12:10

    It`s almost impossible to be all things to all people. The regulations brought in to make economies (longer engine & gearbox life) mean teams/drivers settle for consistency & points over do-or-die winning.
    The most wins method is really (like Bernie`s medals idea) just a way for the regulatory body to interfere with rules to improve the show which, in my opinion, isn`t actually their responsibility. What is need for the show to improve is real racing so regs should encourage that.
    Ideally we should have a well devised points system giving the winner a distinct reward but still giving incentives to the lower end of the grid.
    The fact that the teams at the tail end get zilch for their efforts financially is wrong. Much could be achieved if Bernie would cough up more fairly.

  7. Dougie said on 25th May 2009, 12:16

    What I feel is unfair for Button is that had the points system not changed in response to Schumacher & Ferrari running away with the title Button would be in much stronger and deserved position for the championship.

    I’ve always regretted the change of points back when and never felt you could really compare the results and achievements completely with previous years.

    It would be interesting to see how the championships would have looked under the original (and best) 10.6.4.3.2.1 points system since that change.

    • Journeyer said on 25th May 2009, 12:41

      Dougie, with the old system, it would look like this:

      Button 49
      Barrichello 24
      Vettel 19
      Webber 12.5
      Trulli 9.5
      Glock 5
      Raikkonen 5
      Hamilton 4
      Massa 4
      Alonso 4

      If Malaysia were awarded full points under the old system, we’d have:

      Button 54
      Barrichello 25
      Vettel 19
      Webber 13
      Trulli 11
      Glock 7
      Raikkonen 5
      Hamilton 4
      Massa 4
      Alonso 4

  8. skova265 said on 25th May 2009, 12:17

    keith! under FOTAS proposal button would have a lot more points so it’s the same thing

    • Dougie said on 25th May 2009, 12:49

      Cheers Journeyer, for me that is absolutely spot on reflection of the true championship so far and for me is only what Button and Brawn deserve. As things stand at the minute it is a managed position to keep the entertainment longer.

      As a F1 fan of many years and as has been said in a previous post in another subject, I want to see pure F1 with the results properly rewarded regardless of the end result for the entertainment.

  9. Icarus said on 25th May 2009, 12:19

    And what if Vettel wins the next two races, and Button doesn’t even finish them? In the wins system it wouldn’t make a difference which is IMO ridiculous, the driver fighting for championship gets the same “reward” if he doesn’t finish the race or ends second and that is just not something that I would enjoy following.

  10. R2-D2 said on 25th May 2009, 12:31

    As others have said, the medals system is not too different from points if there are only a couple of winners. Taken to one extreme, though, a driver (like Button) could become WDC if he’d dropped dead after his third win and then the rest of the races were evenly won by different drivers. And that could be the WDC on 30 points (3 wins), and the “runner up” on 110 points (2 wins and 15 2nd places).

    So, it’s when there is more than one strong, winning driver that the points system makes more sense, rewarding consistent driving ability rather than sparks of talent. And given that the points system is also fairly close to a medals system with fewer winners, it would seem to be the better system all round.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 25th May 2009, 12:36

      Taken to one extreme, though, a driver (like Button) could become WDC if he’d dropped dead after his third win and then the rest of the races were evenly won by different drivers.

      A macabre scenario which, sadly, has already happened under a points system (Jochen Rindt in 1970).

  11. Dougie said on 25th May 2009, 12:35

    As much as I can see the reasons people prefer the “most wins system”, I much prefer to stay with points as the championship has always been. It rewards consistent finishes, but at present does not reward the winner enough. As I said before I prefer to see the original system back (maybe even with the “dropped scores” rule) but also I understand the need to reward the smaller teams by scoring to 8 places. Therefore I guess the FOTA proposal for me is the best compromise, and interestingly enough in my view the most considered.

    Maybe I’d go more for 15.10.7.5.4.3.2.1 just because I want the win to mean so much more, but still have the system rewarding consistency. However, I am very aware that this has been discussed so much before and maybe I am treading already trodden ground here.

  12. James G said on 25th May 2009, 12:45

    The problem with the most wins system is how massively lopsided it could be. It is the equivalent of the winner getting one point and everybody else getting zero. In my opinion, a points sytem with a larger gap would reward both winning AND consistency. Ultimately, F1 has too many random variables to be entirely fair with a most wins system.

    Also, is a driver who wins once and DNFs 16 times a better driver than one who comes second 17 times?

  13. Bart said on 25th May 2009, 12:48

    We can make the championship closer by making every car exactly the same. We don’t want that because it’s not F1. Neither is medals. The problem is not the points system, it’s that Brawn GP made the best use of the new regulations and has the best car. If you want to artificially make things more exciting, just give them arbitrary penalties for being faster.

    • Dougie said on 25th May 2009, 12:54

      Also, is a driver who wins once and DNFs 16 times a better driver than one who comes second 17 times?

      This is the classic example always used to argue against the “most wins system”, but this scenario is about as likely to happen as me flying to the moon by flapping my arms. This argument immediately devalues the point you are trying to make am afraid.

      If you want to artificially make things more exciting, just give them arbitrary penalties for being faster.

      Oh god, please, noooooooo!!!!

      Touring cars has closer racing, but the championship in my view is managed and therefore the final positions are always debatable and not a true reflection, ultimately losing credibility.

    • Macca said on 26th May 2009, 7:40

      I diagree with you Dougie. I know that scenario is unlikly but it is an overstatement. It doesn’t have to be that dramatic but somthing similar like that could happen, say 6 wins 8 non points finishes vs 2 wins 12 podium finishes. who then is the more werthy champion.

  14. Robert McKay said on 25th May 2009, 12:55

    If Button has a couple of issues (mechanically or otherwise) then Vettel and Barrichello can catch up even if they aren’t winning – e.g. seconds and thirds are still worth a lot in those circumstances. They’re not under a wins-only system.

    But to be honest the real situation here championship-wise is that there’s no bona-fide “second team” or even a “third team” like previous years where the championship is close. Red Bull sometime arguably look like it, but sometimes they don’t, as they did in Monaco. Last season Ferrari and Mclaren hounded each other, and when they made mistakes BMW were consistently third in pace and were therefore there to pick up the podiums and stay with the big two.

    There’s not been anything like that from the teams outside Brawn this year. One weekend Ferrari has been strong, one weekend red Bull, one weekend Toyota etc.

    And with Button comprehensively outdriving and outscoring his teammate it doesn’t matter which system you use to decide things: Button is clear on his own with either.

  15. Robert McKay said on 25th May 2009, 13:00

    This is the classic example always used to argue against the “most wins system”, but this scenario is about as likely to happen as me flying to the moon by flapping my arms. This argument immediately devalues the point you are trying to make am afraid.

    Yes.

    It’s an exaggeration of a situation – but you’re missing the point. One can easily change the numbers to something more realistic to illustrate the same point, that a driver with less wins can have a much better record in comparison of races where they didn’t win.

    The question remains – how much do you balance consistency with outright “winningness”?

    • Dougie said on 25th May 2009, 13:30

      I didn’t miss the point I was just saying the exaggeration devalues the point.

      However, that said, under the “most wins” system Vettel would not have been champion last year due to his Monza win, and indeed for that metter name me one year where a driver scoring one win under the “most wins” system would have been champion??

      It has never and will never happen, so ultimately the argument is flawed anyway. I’m not for the “most wins” system as I’ve already explained, however if you are going to argue against it reflect reality not some fantasy scenario.

      …and lets face it, nobody remembers or cares about the first or subsequent losers in the title, its all about who came out on top.

    • ILoveVettel said on 25th May 2009, 23:55

      Exactly thas what my point is….
      Take the example of Kubica and Alonso last year…
      Alonso had more wins…But can you say that Alonso deserved to be third last year than Kubica?

      And one more thing, if the medel system is there, what are the smaller teams racing for!!!!!!!!!!

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