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FIA to oppose medals plan?


Bernie Ecclestone's radical plan to replace the current Formula One points system with Olympic-style medals for the top three finishers may be a non-starter according to sources who believe that the move would be vetoed by motorsport's governing body, the FIA.

Speaking at a press conference to welcome electronics giant LG to the F1 fold, Ecclestone admitted that he would push to have the medal system introduced for the 2009 season in a bid to increase excitement and reward the most successful driver in terms of race wins with the world title.

Despite the sport's commercial guru insisting that 'it's going to happen' in time for the opening race of next season, in Melbourne, in March, the proposal has met with criticism from various quarters - most notably from former team boss Eddie Jordan - and Ecclestone may find his belief dented by the FIA's decision, which many believe will vote in favour of retaining the current scoring system.

The medal scheme would to receive FIA approval at next month's World Motor Sport Council meeting, and Britain's Daily Telegraph claims that no formal proposal has yet been presented to the governing body and may not even be appear formally on the Monaco agenda.

Jordan and BRDC president Damon Hill aside, Ecclestone's plans have attracted the criticism that, while they may improve the action up front, they would give those further down the field little to aim for, especially given the recent domination of F1 by just a couple of teams. Indeed, there have been calls to increase the number of finishers rewarded with points in an effort to increase passing in the midfield and lower reaches of the field.

"The medal system only incentivises the top," Professor Steffen Huck, head of economics at UCL, pointed out, "But there are other undesirable consequences as well.

"First, teams and drivers would have to take riskier strategies – causing more crashes, and causing more mechanical and engine failures which will drive up the costs. We have already seen this incentive effect operating in the reverse direction when the new points system was introduced in 2003.

"Secondly, the championship could easily be decided after just two-thirds of the season and, in 2004, it would have been over by the halfway mark."

While many series have adopted the current F1 scoring format which rewards the top eight finishers with 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 points respectively, the system has been criticised for not providing a big enough incentive for winning races. Previous incarnations at least saw a four-point differential between first and second, but were criticised for not prolonging excitement throughout the season should one driver prove to be dominant.

US racing takes the opposite tack with, in some cases, the entire field being rewarded with points, and relatively close scoring patterns ensuring that the title fight goes down to the wire. IndyCar champion Scott Dixon won six races where no-one else won more than two, but still had to wait until the final round at Chicagoland Speedway before being crowned champion. The IRL rewards every finisher with at least ten points, and gives its top eight runners 50-40-35-32-30-28-26-24 points respectively.


Related Pictures

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Bernie Ecclestone (GBR), Valencia F1 Grand Prix, 22nd-24th, August 2008
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