WFO Radio Show Archives

Friday, December 26, 2008

Gold Medals

Bernie Ecclestone is pushing a new points system in Formula 1, medals. Gold for the winner, Silver for second place, and Bronze for third. The driver with the most Gold medals is the champion. On the surface, it seems too different from what we’ve been watching to make sense. After all, the past two seasons in F-1 have come down to the final race and were ultimately decided by just one point. How can things possibly get better than that? There are some good points that have been made by Ecclestone in a recent interview on which is included at the bottom of the page.

First, I do agree that winning should ultimately be most important. While consistency has been a huge part of every point system (NASCAR, INDY, NHRA, etc.) they all leave the possibility for the average driver to beat the spectacular driver over the long haul. An example that I’ve given over the years is of a driver who finishes 2nd in every race. Is that driver championship worthy? Over the years, I have always said, “yes.” Bernie says “no.” In the case of Formula 1, I can understand Bernie wanting his champions to be winners. F-1 is the pinnacle of motor sport, where every position is contested. Why not make it winner take all?

Possible problems do exist with Bernie’s plan. A dominant driver could close out the season by its halfway point, killing any drama for fans. On the other hand, a team could go on a run late in the season and make up ground because “points” racing will be totally eliminated. There would no “safe play” for a driver. Every race would be a “win at all cost” exercise, making life at the top very cutthroat. I can see many battles for the lead ending in carnage. After all, why should any driver yield to someone faster if there is no real prize for second place other than a tie breaking silver medal. The teams that have no chance of winning races have the constructor’s title, which would retain the old points system, to shoot for.

Bernie wants to change the nature of his motor sport to better reflect the world we live in. Nobody really cares about the guy who is always a solid runner. People who watch racing for entertainment want winners, not drivers who played it safe. I think we should let Bernie try it out and see what kind of mess ensues. If it doesn’t work out, they can always change things back. If it works perhaps it could be a model for other series to follow. One thing is almost certain, Formula 1 has proven they are not afraid to test new ideas on people. People who, especially Americans, love winners.

Here is the link: At least they want to know what fans think. Don’t forget to vote at the bottom of the link.