Atlas F1   Point Defect

  by Karl Ludvigsen, England

Award-winning Karl Ludvigsen writes on the current F1 points system, and explains why it isn't working well enough to give a fair assessment of the relative performances of all the teams taking part in the World Championship

The first four places at the 'Ring were filled by the cars from Ferrari and McLaren. Most observers took note of the fact that Ferrari increased its lead in the makes championship by three points, from a 7-point margin to an even 10. Noteworthy too was a first point scored in 2000 by Arrows. But to me, the way the season is going has a quite different significance - not entirely in the interests of the sport.

Let's consider how many points in all have been available in the first six races. At 26 points per race they add up to a total of 156. Of these, the top two teams have taken 114, fully 73% of the total. This has left a scant 42 points, 27% of the total, to be fought over by the rest of the racers.

The position is even worse if we consider the top four finishing positions. In theory, these can all be occupied by Ferraris and McLarens as they were at the Nurburgring. So far in six races these positions have offered 138 points for the taking. And taking is just what the two top teams have done: they have annexed 83% of the points theoretically available to them.

This situation represents a state of dominance of the sport by two teams that may only have been rivalled in recent history by the strongest joint seasons of Williams and McLaren. And little on the horizon this year or next seems likely to change this position.

Behind the top two, Williams is next best with a paltry 15 points. "We are certainly doing better than we might have expected," said Williams's Patrick Head, "but there is still a big gap between the two top teams and all of the rest." I'll say there is. In fact, on the present evidence I would say that the points system will make it very difficult to determine with any accuracy or fairness just who is the best of the rest.

Let me put it this way: the points for fifth and sixth places throughout the entire season of 17 races amount to only 51. Although it's possible that others than McLaren and Ferrari will get some more top-four placings in 2000, as I've indicated above it's not something they should be counting on! Both teams seem likely to get even stronger as the season progresses.

If the strike rate of the also-rans continues for the rest of 2000 as it has in the first six races they will have only 119 points available to them to decide who will be best ranked after the top two teams. That's not a lot when you are considering that at least five teams by my reckoning are in the running: Williams, Benetton, Jordan, BAR and the speed surprise of 2000, Arrows.

The year's most disappointing team is clearly Jordan. "I see no reason why this trend shouldn't continue," said Eddie Jordan, speaking of his team's progressive rise in the makers' standings from sixth to fifth, fourth and then third in 1999. Now overhauled by the surprising BWM-Williams and Benetton outfits, Jordan and company are challenged to reverse a downward slide that could be more sudden that their rise to the top.

But as I said above, the points system isn't working well enough to give a fair assessment of the relative performances of all the teams taking part. This causes me to add my voice to the others who have proposed a points system that reaches farther down the finishing order, say to 10th place.

We don't have to do it right away. May I suggest 2006 - the year in which we will celebrate a century of Grand Prix racing?

Karl Ludvigsen© 2000 Kaizar.Com, Incorporated.
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Karl Ludvigsen's resume extends throughout the international automotive industry: he was Vice President of Ford of Europe, also responsible for Ford's European motor sports activity; He was the Vice President of Fiat Motors of North America; He was senior public affairs official with General Motors and previously a GM designer, where he planned experimental front-drive prototypes. In publishing and journalism, Mr. Ludvigsen has held editorial positions for several motoring publications. His work as author, co-author or editor of 17 books has won numerous awards. Among his books: "Juan Manuel Fangio" (1999), "Jackie Stewart: Triple Crowned King of Speed" (1998), and "Stirling Moss - Racing with the Maestro" (1997).

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