Wins should determine the F1 championship

Wins should determine the F1 championship

The F1 World Championship should go to the driver who wins the most races. Try it, you'll like it! It's not often that this writer agrees with Bernie Ecclestone on anything, but he's absolutely right with his plan for basing the Formula One...

The F1 World Championship should go to the driver who wins the most races. Try it, you'll like it!

It's not often that this writer agrees with Bernie Ecclestone on anything, but he's absolutely right with his plan for basing the Formula One World Championship on who wins the most races. A wins-only championship would be a fairer way to determine the World Champion and it promises to motivate every driver to push for his best finish in every race and put an absolute end to that dismal "points racing".

Start: Felipe Massa, Scuderia Ferrari leads the field.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Racing is about winning races and Bernie's wins-only scheme rewards drivers for winning races and it makes that the goal of every driver in every race. Isn't that what we want to see when we watch a race?

Of course, if the rules for determining a champion had been different in the past, the race strategy might have been different and this could have produced different results. That said, this year the F1 championship battle came down to final race in Brazil. Under the wins-only formula, Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa would have been tied with five wins each. Going into this race, both drivers would have had the same simple goal -- win the finale and the championship would have been theirs. Now that's an exciting final race scenario - better than the "if Hamilton finishes fifth or better he wins the title even if Massa wins the race."

There has been quite a bit of opposition to Bernie's wins-only idea; what's not clear is whether that's a result of his failure to spell out the whole idea or others' failure to think through the exciting scenarios that would be produced.

Obviously there would have to be a tie-breaker rule. As is already the case, you would go to second-place finishes and so on down the order, and this principle is extended to determine the championship standings all the way down the list. After you run out of race winners, you move down to drivers with the most second-place finishes and use their other results to break ties and so on. Note that F1 drivers already must complete 90 per cent of the race laps to be classified as finishers and the championship standings would, as today, be based only on the classified finish positions.

Sebastian Vettel, Scuderia Toro Rosso, STR03 overtakes Lewis Hamilton, McLaren Mercedes, MP4-23.
Photo by xpb.cc.

This wins-only formula isn't a new idea, Doug Nye was arguing in Autosport for this way back in 1977, pointing out that the 1958 F1 championship which went to Mike Hawthorne who had won only one race that year would have gone to Stirling Moss who won four of that year's ten Grands Prix -- a more just outcome in Nye's opinion.

This writer is convinced that, if Bernie gets his way and the championship is based on wins (with tie-breakers) everyone will eventually agree that it's the better way: <ul> <li>It would be simple for every race fan to understand who was the leader in the championship and why. <li>This would place more emphasis on who was winning the race we are watching right now and less emphasis on the abstraction of who might win the season-end points championship -- and that's more exciting, isn't it? <li>The races will be more exciting because every driver will be racing to win -- or at least racing for his best possible finishing result in every race all season long. <li>Most drivers will still be in a position to improve their season-end championship standings by a win -- or a season-best finish -- right up to and including the final race of the season. Even in the final race, everyone will have something to race for -- and your favourite driver still might score a Hail Mary finish to vault himself up the championship standings. <li>If racing is about winning, the championship would recognize the driver who has won the most races, not the driver who has merely been the most "consistent." And that's the way it should be. </ul>

Bernie should win this fight -- and the 2009 F1 championship should go to the driver with the most wins.

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Series GENERAL , F1