The Crotchet’s Corner

My perspective about all things inconsequential

Formula One – dumbing down !!!

Ferrari’s Brazilian driver Felipe Massa won the final race of the 2008 Formula One season at the Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo. This was his sixth win of the season.


Yet, he was heartbreakingly pipped to the drivers’ championship title by McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton by a mere one point – and Hamilton had won only five races during the year.

Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikonnen

Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikonnen

The sport’s governing body, the FIA World Motor Sport Council, has changed the rules for the 2009 season with the Formula One title going to the driver who wins the most races rather than the most points.


Formula One’s commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone wanted to introduce an Olympics-style gold-silver-bronze medal system to declare the winners of each race, with the title to go to the driver with the most golds. The Formula One Teams’ Association wanted, instead, a revision in the points system to incorporate a provision by which the podium finishers would be awarded  twelve, nine and seven points respectively.


The 2009 system will retain the points ladder for second to eighth place as 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1


The concept of deciding the drivers’ championship based on number of wins is sound in that it motivates drivers to go for wins rather than playing safe and going for podium finishes and the resultant accumulation of points.


The down-side of this, however, is that the title race might be over much quicker than in earlier years, with the excitement and tension associated with a close contest towards the close of the season being absent. The 2008 drivers’ title was decided in the finishing moments of the final race of the season!!!


The 17-race 2009 season starts with the Australian Grand Prix on 29th March and ends with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on 1st November.


The worldwide economic downturn has rocked Formula One, too, and some of the struggling teams have opted out. The sport has, for the past few years, been dominated by Ferrari and McLaren, and the world body, perhaps, took a view that the divide had become too great for the sport to sustain itself.


With this in mind, the FIA has set a budget cap on teams at just €33million a season – this includes everything including driver’s salaries. And, with restrictions imposed on what a car can and cannot have, one might well see a fairly dull, unexciting, and unappetising contest.


Team owners, not surprisingly, are outraged by this ruling, and the new rules could have a major impact since big car manufacturers might be reluctant to take part in what is otherwise a showcase of their technology.


There has also been talk, and some suggestions, regarding the use of standardized engines by all the cars, with just two or three engine changes over the course of a single season.


All these changes might lead to the dumbing down of Formula One, an event that provides an adrenalin rush for ardent fans of the sport.


If this happens, it will hurt big time.


It used to be thrilling to watch Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikonnen, Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton.


I am not sure it’s going to be that much fun in ‘09, though.


March 18, 2009 - Posted by | About this and that, Formula 1 racing | , , ,


  1. This rule will be applicable from 2010 onwards.


    Comment by Prashant Sampat | March 22, 2009 | Reply

    • Yes, better sense seems to have dawned, and the implementation might be deferred by a year. Does not alter the fundamental flaw, though.


      Comment by Crotchet's Corner | March 23, 2009 | Reply

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