ATLAS F1   Volume 6, Issue 50 Email to Friend   Printable Version

Atlas F1   A Proposal to the Point

  by Karl Ludvigsen, England

After the European Grand Prix I wrote a column about the way the F1 points system works, saying that the way things were going in 2000, Ferrari and McLaren were likely to monopolise the points to such an extent that it would be hard to tell how well the other teams did. I thought that this was unfair, both to the other teams and to the fans, who need some meaningful way to gauge the respective performances of the teams.

Others were making their own negative assessment of the Formula One points system. "It's not that we don't like F1," said Peugeot's Corrado Provera at the end of the season, "but only six cars score points at every race. Four of those are regularly the two Ferraris and McLarens, and so there are only two places left for everybody else. In order to achieve those points, the cost per point, so to speak - for fifth and sixth places - has become stratospheric. The category has become too onerous on the level of budgets. So we have decided to direct our already considerable motorsport budget toward something other than F1."

Provera, Peugeot's motor sports chief, gave this as a reason for his company's withdrawal from Formula One. Of course Prost and Peugeot were a long way from being able to battle for those few remaining points. In fact on Peugeot's way out the door some commentators, including Autosport's Nigel Roebuck, all but said "good riddance to bad rubbish". I think this was undeserved, especially in view of the way Peugeot was treated by Ron Dennis after its one and only season with McLaren. We need engine suppliers in F1 and on that basis alone Peugeot was a welcome participant. (And you may want to read Roger Horton's column from last week about Peugeot's exit).

After my previous column, however, I had received an e-mail from one of the Atlas F1 readers, asking me: "how about you do something about it?"

Well, only a few people - including the teams themselves under the Concorde Agreement - can do something about it, but I can at least make a suggestion.

Back in May I hadn't thought through the possible permutations of a new points system. I suggested then that points could go down to the tenth-place finisher. In only two races, Australia and Monaco, did we have fewer than ten classified finishers. But on reflection I think this isn't a good idea. In fact, I don't want to tear up the existing system. As a historian in my spare time I think it's good to be able to compare different seasons and eras in racing and that's made possible by a consistent method of allocating points toward championships.

Specifically, I don't want to change the Drivers' Championship at all. This is working pretty well. Some of the Atlas F1 readers who wrote to me suggested bringing back the single point for the fastest lap that we used to have. In its day this was significant and figured in several championship contests. My guess is that this was okay in a season that had only six or eight races counting for points, but now with 17 or 18 races, those fastest-lap points would assume too much significance. A fast-lapper could gain an advantage out of proportion to his ability to perform well in races, which is the point, after all.

My idea would be to change the Constructors' Championship. The points would stay the same and be awarded down to the sixth place, just as they are now. So what's the difference? Only the best-placed car from each team would earn points. If memory serves, this is not a new idea. It was used in some seasons in endurance racing, I believe; if not, somebody will put me straight. Giving points to the best-placed car in each team fairly reflects the best performance the team achieved in each race, and at the same time gives greater visibility to all the teams that placed well up.

How would this have worked in 2000? Here's the way the points would have stacked up if only the best finish for each team had been counted, compared to the way they actually added up:

Alternative Constructors' Points 2000

1. Ferrari 10 10 10 6 6 10 6 10 6 6 10 6 6 10 10 10 10 142 170
2. McLaren     6 10 10 6 10 4 10 10 6 10 10 6 3 6 6 113 152
3. Williams 6 3   4 4       3 3 4 4 4 4   4   43 36
4. BAR 4 1 4   1   1 1 4 4 1   2 1 4 3 4 35 20
5. Benetton 3 6 1 2   4 4 6 1         2     2 31 20
6. Jordan   4   3 3     2 2     3 3   6     26 17
7. Sauber     3 1 2 2 2     2 3 1     1 1 1 19 6
8. Jaguar     2       3     1   2 1   2 2 3 16 4
9. Arrows   2       3   3     2     3       13 7
10. Minardi 2         1                       3  
11. Prost 1                                 1  

Interesting, no? The value of the exercise is that there is so little difference to the official 2000 results. If the difference were great, there would be no chance of seeing this system adopted. For example, the ranking of the top six teams is almost the same (BAR moves ahead of Benetton). Ferrari has a points margin of 26% over McLaren, instead of the actual 12%, which implies that the Constructors' Cup might have been decided earlier in the season. But by the same token my alternative system would have allowed a strong fight-back by McLaren, had they been able to muster it.

McLaren is better than third-place Williams, but by a margin of 163% instead of the actual margin of 322%, which ludicrously exaggerates the relative capabilities of the two teams. Significantly, BAR-Honda and Benetton-Playlife have a different ranking in the two systems, but while they tied in point in the current system, they in fact differ by a useful margin in my system - a clearer way of differentiating between the teams, instead of having their points tie broken by a comparison of finishing places.

The order changes more significantly at the tail end of the table. Sauber benefits from its consistent finishing over the season, steadily racking up points to place ahead of Arrows instead of behind it. Jaguar can hold its head a little bit higher. And both Minardi and Prost get points, which no one would begrudge them.

That's my suggestion - and one to the point, I hope!

Karl Ludvigsen© 2000 Kaizar.Com, Incorporated.
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