Bernie Ecclestone's highly controversial Olympic Games-style medals system has been formally approved for introduction into Formula 1 in 2010 – with the title henceforth set to be awarded to the driver who wins the most races over the course of the campaign.
The new format – tantamount to a 'winner takes all' approach – is being brought into force in an effort to provide a greater incentive to drivers to try to overtake, in the knowledge that a 'safe' second place will no longer be enough.
This is in response to the situation at the end of the 2008 world championship, when Lewis Hamilton merely had to cruise around to fifth position in the Brazilian Grand Prix finale at Interlagos to make sure of securing the crown, rather than having to take the fight to Ferrari rival Felipe Massa on-track, as he would have had to do according to the new initiative. Ecclestone argued that such a scenario removed much of the suspense from what would otherwise have been a nail-biting, no-holds barred showdown between the pair.
The new system was rubber-stamped by the FIA's World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) in Paris last week, but its introduction was artfully concealed amongst the raft of new and updated regulations for 2010 and beyond, and not highlighted unlike other changes. The sport's governing body had initially attempted to force the proposal through for the present season, but the move was vetoed by the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) – who are likely to be angry that it has now been approved without their prior consultation.
'The Formula One World Championship drivers' title will be awarded to the driver who has been classified first in the greatest number of races, all official results from the championship season being taken into account,' reads article six of the amended 2010 F1 Sporting Regulations. 'In the event that two or more drivers win an equal number of races, the driver with the greatest number of points will be awarded the drivers' title.
'Points will be used to establish the remaining overall championship standings. The title of Formula One World Champion Constructor will be awarded to the make which has scored the highest number of points, results from both cars being taken into account.'