Would ‘most wins’ make title race closer?

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

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’