Thursday, November 27, 2008

Bark: Balderdash and piffle

This is one of the more bizarre news stories to catch my eye this week.

I've been watching Formula One for over twenty years now (and for some strange reason, still enjoy it), but moving over from a points to a medal system strikes me as plain bonkers. Surely the whole point of having a championship with multiple races means that the guy who should be crowned champion is the most consistent throughout the year?

As Gilles Villeneuve once said "to finish first, first you must finish". Moving over to a winner-takes-all system means that drivers will be encouraged to drive much more aggressively and will probably cause a lot more crashes. Is it right that a driver could win the championship even if he doesn't finish half of the races? Surely that's worse than someone driving consistently and scoring podiums throughout the entire season and winning the championship on points even if they haven't won as many races as other drivers. Or worse, if Bernie's medal system was imposed, what about seasons where you have one car that's vastly superior to everyone else on the grid. You could have the championship done and dusted by the mid-point of the season, and that would be terrible for Formula 1.

In a way, I can understand where Bernie's coming from on the overtaking issue. He says that he wants to encourage overtaking and make races more exciting to watch. I wouldn't disagree with that sentiment, but if you want to encourage drivers to overtake, then I don't think the system proposed by Ecclestone will work, because it only rewards the teams who inherently have the best cars anyway and leaves the back end of the grid with nothing to fight for.

So how about this: keep the points system as it is, but add in point bonuses for overtaking and penalties for being overtaken. Say, a 1 point bonus for every two positions gained over your grid position at the end of the race and a similar penalty for places lost (but cap the penalties so that people can't lose more than 5 points per race and never get a negative sum total for the season tally). This won't harm the teams who would be at the back of the grid anyway, but encourages the mid-table teams to really push to overtake the guys at the front and will also compel teams to improve their reliability to avoid DNFs (since they would be horribly punishing). It should also make the competition much closer over the course of the season and result in exactly the kind of grandstand finishes to races and seasons that everyone wants to see.

I think my idea is much better. But then I would, wouldn't I?
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