Bernie Ecclestone is pushing ahead with his plan to do away with points-scoring and introduce an Olympic Games-style medal system into Formula 1 in a bid to generate more overtaking.
The sport's commercial rights-holder wants to implement a format whereby the driver with the most gold medals to his name – equivalent to race wins – at season's end will be crowned world champion. Had such a scenario been in place this year, Felipe Massa rather than Lewis Hamilton would have clinched the crown, with six triumphs to the Briton's five.
With the top three drivers being awarded respectively gold, silver and bronze medals rather than ten, eight and six points, those finishing fourth and below would not earn points towards the drivers' title chase, but their positions would count towards the final standings. The constructors' championship would still be determined on a points' basis.
Whilst the initiative has yet to be put forward to the FIA's World Motor Sport Council – which would need to ratify it before its introduction – and the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA), Ecclestone is convinced that it would encourage drivers to fight harder for victory rather than merely play a percentage game or settle for points, as is sometimes the case at present.
That much was evinced by Hamilton playing safe in driving conservatively to fifth place to seal the 2008 laurels in the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos – a situation that would not have been possible had medals been involved, with both the McLaren-Mercedes star and Ferrari rival Massa needing
to win the race in order to win the title.
Moreover, Ecclestone is optimistic the system can be introduced in time for the beginning of the 2009 campaign.
“Everybody is happy with the idea,” the 78-year-old told international news agency Reuters
. “They are all very supportive.
“I'm absolutely, 100 per cent sure it's the right way to go; it'll get them (the drivers) overtaking.”
“The FIA and all the teams are behind it and it will be done,” the Formula One Management chief executive added, speaking to British newspaper The Times
“The whole point will be, when they get to Melbourne for the first race, the guys will want to leave there with a gold medal. They [will not] want to leave with ten, eight or six points.”