A Gold Medal Is Worth Fighting For.

March 2009 had arrived and everything was finally coming together for the brand new F1 season. It was a tough month for the fans and everyone else involved in the sport. Rules were constantly pulled out and inserted until they could no longer be comprehended. I felt like my brain was being abused. One rule that had been introduced made me tingle at the possibilities: the ‘medals’ system.

Ecclestone’s extremely extravagant idea stemmed from the 2008 season finale that saw Lewis Hamilton grab his World Champion title by fighting for fifth place. Ecclestone believes that true racing is when drivers fight for the win, always, and every time. The F1 Chief Executive said that with the current points scoring system (10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1), Sebastien Vettel is too far behind to be any sort of thorn in Jenson Button’s championship bubble.

With four races left, Button leads Vettel by fourteen points at eighty points.

Now take a moment and find the racing driver in you.

Imagine yourself in the vehicle of your choice, fighting for the world’s most glamorous championship. You are fourteen points behind the leader with four races left in the season. Stop there.

In addition to a podium position, a trophy, and a bottle of champagne, a solid medal © www.newsimg.bbc.co.uk

In addition to a podium position, a trophy, and a bottle of champagne: a solid medal © http://www.newsimg.bbc.co.uk

If we were to adopt the ‘medals’ system, as seen in the Olymics – Button would be leading the championship with five wins to Vettel’s two.

So, you’re driving around in the vehicle of your choice (with four races left). Would you rather be forced to win the remaining four races, ensuring your opponent enjoys the trophy for second place? Or would you leave it up to a little bit of luck, grabbing as many points as you can while praying that your opponent falls off the circuit at every turn?

We’re not racers, so I’m going to ask those questions again. This time, as a viewer. Would F1 be more exciting if each and every driver had a chance at the title, at any moment?

There have been six different drivers who were able to make it to the chequered flag first this year. Imagine if the lights went out in Abu Dhabi and six drivers were a race away from the championship. All they would have to do is win. Six drivers would unleash every ounce of pure racing driver they can squeeze, and go for that single win. That is a recipe for wild, bullish, fan attracting, racing.

Then I think back to the points system: according to f1fanatic.co.uk, the 2008 season saw Honda earn $28,435,714 for every point they wracked up. Ferrari on the other hand earned $2,412,209 per point scored. Because Ferrari places within the points scoring positions more often than Honda, the points are worth more at the Japanese squad. In 2008, Ferrari took the Constructors’ title with 172 points as opposed to Honda’s 14. If you were to take out a calculator, Honda would have earned $398,099,998 that year while Ferrari a  $414,899,948. How would that work with medals in place?

Most probably, points would be substituted by place: cost per place. If it were strictly based on the three colorful medals, the less fortunate teams would never be able to gain anything.

So I am at a crossroads. From start to finish, drivers must fight for wins and only wins. Silver and bronze medals are merely for aesthetic purposes, while the remaining drivers fighting for the remaining places maintain their motivation by fighting for money through the cost per place theory.

That would be good to see, nestled in the book of rules for 2010.

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One comment

  1. GCK

    Nice write-up! I’ve always thought the current scoring system makes drivers and teams too conservative, the medal system seems like a good idea – but might also be on the other extreme. In the case you described, if Button wins one more race, then the championship is over. So, that wouldn’t be exciting either.

    In any case, there needs to be an overhaul of the scoring system to make the race win more significant, motivating teams and their drivers to go for broke and win, not just score the safe points.

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