Posts Tagged ‘Medals’

The FIA World Council made some very significant decisions today and the one which is leading the news bulletins is the decision to ensure that the driver who wins the most races becomes world champion regardless of how many points he has scored.

The more significant move is the one to introduce a £30 million budget cap, which is a red rag to FOTA teams and which would effectively create a two class F1, but I’ll deal with that point in a later post.

I got the sense from responses to my blog when Bernie Ecclestone suggested medals as a way to decide the champion, that this was not a popular idea, but that the concept of rewarding the driver who wins most races was acceptable to many fans.

I have to say I agree with that.

The Teams’ association (FOTA) put forward a different suggestion, which stuck closer to the current system, but awarded the winner more points.

The FIA has adopted neither, but has essentially adopted the medals idea, just without the medals themselves! So Bernie has got what he wants, racers going for the lead come what may, even if the Melbourne winner will not be bowing his head on the podium to the premier of Victoria to get a big gold medal.

I think that using the existing points structure as the back up system in the event of a tied number of wins – which let’s face it is quite likely – is sensible. You may well end up with a championship table which shows the loser above the winner on points, but you had that in the old days when driver deducted scores from their tally and so on. There has never truly been one system since the start of the sport, so it’s not messing around with something sacrosanct.

I think this makes the role of the stewards even more acute, as Lewis Hamilton was docked a win in Spa last year and it went to Massa, which under this system would have given Massa the title. The stewarding process is to be more open and transparent this year, so that should help that situation a bit.

People will have many arguments against, I am sure, but this is quite a simple system which will have the desired effect of giving driver more incentive to make a pass for the lead of a race.

And it generates a LOT of publicity for the sport a week before the first race…

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Just received an email from the FIA press department with some great research on how F1 history would have been rewritten if Bernie Ecclestone’s medals idea had been in place since the start of Formula 1 in 1950. The outcome of the world championship would have been different on 13 occasions.

Bernie thinks that the winner of a Grand Prix should get a gold medal and that the winner of the world championship should be the driver who has the most gold medals in that year. This would have meant that Felipe Massa would have won the world title in 2008. Bernie proposed this idea after he attended the Beijing Olympics last summer, but before he went to Ferrari’s press event at Madonna di Campiglio wearing a Ferrari jacket.

Ironically the FIA research has revealed with the medals system the Brabham team under Bernie’s tenure would not have won any world championships, losing the 1981 and 83 titles!

But looking across the span of the years you’d have to say that, with one or two exceptions, it would have given a fairer reflection to the distribution of world championships. Alain Prost would have won five, Ayrton Senna and Jim Clark four and Nigel Mansell three! Also Stirling Moss would have won the world championship. This I think, would have been a fairer reflection of those drivers’ place in F1 history than what we actually have in the record books.

There would have been some losers; Nelson Piquet would have lost all three of his titles. I never thought he was a three time champion driver, not in the same league as Jackie Stewart, for example. Niki Lauda would have won one instead of three, which would probably have been wrong.

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The discussion about the medals system potentially coming into F1 has set fans buzzing again, since Bernie Ecclestone stated, “It will happen, ” on Wednesday.

We’ve had lots of intelligent and insightful feedback on this and I have to say that the antis outweigh the pros so far. I also noted Eddie Jordan’s comments, where he laid into the plan and virtually accused Bernie of being out of touch. This is clearly a foretaste of the kind of comment we can expect from dear old Eddie when he is unleashed as a pundit on BBC next year…what would he have said about the ruling on the Bourdais/Massa collision in Fuji, or even the penalising of Hamilton at Spa? He’ll have the stewards reaching for the smelling salts next year.

The teams I have spoken to give this initiative a cautious welcome, but with quite some reservations. They see it as a very big step that needs to be thought through and presented properly. No-one is in the mood to shoot ideas down at the moment, because we are in the ‘phoney war’ phase of the FOTA/FIA/ Bernie tussle, which will start to heat up more next week, when FOTA meets on Dec 4th and the FIA world council on the 12th.

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Just back from a press conference at the Landmark Hotel, London, where Bernie Ecclestone said more about the proposed “medals” scheme in F1 and announced that LG the consumer electronics group, will sponsor F1 next year. You as viewers will be very aware of this deal as you watch, because the timing graphics, which appear on screen every 20 seconds of so will be LG branded. I think they will also sponsor the rev counter graphic you see on screen. They will develop F1 branded telies and other products off the back of the deal.

The deal was put together by Just Marketing, who also pulled in Johnnie Walker, Hilton Hotels and Lenovo to F1. Interestingly the event was fronted by BBC’s new F1 anchor Jake Humphreys, with whom I had an enjoyable chat. He’s a decent bloke, from the looks of things and he’s followed the sport for a while, so he’s not without knowledge. And he must be a sharp operator as he got himself a nice little earner today before he’s even hosted an F1 show!

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There has been a lot of chat this week about Bernie Ecclestone’s idea of handing out gold medals to race winners and awarding the world championship to the man with the most at season’s end.

This is one of a number of ideas which will be discussed at the FIA World Council meeting on December 12th. The Formula One Teams Association has been working hard on dreaming up ideas for improving the show as well and Flavio Briatore has a plan for knockout qualifying, which seems to be gathering some momentum.

The idea is simple, instead of dividing qualifying up into three sessions and guessing fuel weights at the end, all cars go out with a fixed amount of fuel and after an out-lap they start setting times, the slowest car each lap will be eliminated until only six remain, at which point they put new tyres on and fight for pole. There is talk of incentives for pole including a cash prize and a single world championship point. Ferrari favours a more conservative approach, suggesting that a return to the points system pre-2004, with points down to 6th place and only 6 points for second, will provide the same incentive to win.

The final version will be hammered out at the FOTA meeting on December 4th, in time for the World Council.

Despite putting on one of the most exciting seasons of racing in living memory, which has brought back many fans disaffected by the Schumacher dominated years in the early 2000s, F1 is seeking spectacle and entertainment and it seems prepared to go through a mini-revolution to achieve it. What do you think, how far can they go before it becomes something other than F1?

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