Lewis Hamilton has insisted that changes to the way in which Formula One's world champion is determined will not make any difference to the way in which the drivers approach each and every race.

Joining peers passing comment on the FIA's radical move to offering the world title to the driver winning most races - not necessarily accumulating the most points - in a season, Hamilton claimed that he and his rivals would continue to race just as hard as they would had the old, traditional, system been in place - but admitted that the changes might not be the best for the fans.

"I think it's a shame what's happening to Formula One," a McLaren representative told Crash.net, reading a statement attributed to the 24-year old world champion, "It's hard to believe that these recent decisions will improve things for the trackside spectators and TV viewers, who should always be our number one priority. I guess we'll have to wait and see."

Ironically, the changes are believed to have been prompted by Hamilton's largely anonymous run to last year's title, where he took the fifth place he needed in the Brazilian Grand Prix, much to the chagrin of Bernie Ecclestone who, drawing inspiration from last summer's Olympic Games, suggested that the top three finishers be rewarded with gold, silver and bronze medals, with the winner of most golds being proclaimed world champion.

Despite the teams' association FOTA proposing a subtle change to the points system, the governing body smuggled a disguised version of Ecclestone's idea in through the back door at Tuesday's WMSC meeting in Paris.

The fact that Hamilton dramatically snatched the title from Felipe Massa's grasp at the final corner of the season, after finding more grip than the 'slickshod' Timo Glock on a now wet track, appears to have been lost on Ecclestone, but Hamilton insists that changing the way in which the champion is determined will not affect his - or his rivals' - approach.

"Whatever the points system, I know that all Formula One drivers will always race our hearts out," his statement maintained.

The new system, of course, would have handed Massa the world title by dint of victory on home soil being his sixth of the year, breaking a tie with Hamilton, but, as many have already pointed out, the entire field would have approached the season differently had the new system been imposed in similar fashion twelve months ago. Whether the Briton is in position to defend his title from the front - and, of course, set himself on the way to a repeat - by winning in Melbourne next weekend remains to be seen, with both McLaren and Ferrari yet to show convincing form in testing.

Ironically, it could be Hamilton's predecessor as 'Britain's new title hope', Jenson Button, who appears to be in with the best chance of opening the season on top, after his Brawn GP team continued to show potential in the final group test of the winter.

Despite the rechristened Honda team having had just two weeks on track, both Button and team-mate Rubens Barrichello have topped the times, prompting many to declare the Brackley outfit the most likely dark horse for Melbourne. Indeed, Ecclestone has even suggested that Button could steal a march on the rest of the field when it comes to chasing the championship - something no-one would have considered possible when he appeared on his way out of F1 a few weeks ago.

"I suppose an awful lot will depend on these [new] regulations but, if Brawn has got it right, then there's every chance that, for the first three races, we could maybe see Jenson winning," Ecclestone told Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper, mischievously, "Now that it's not points that decides the championship, if he has three races in his pocket, then that's not bad - although I suppose that, in the end, you have to look at the old-timers like Alonso, Raikkonen, Massa and Mr Hamilton."



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