To be perfectly honest, I’m feeling a little confused right now. You see, late last year Bernie Ecclestone proposed a radical shake-up in the way the driver’s world championship is won. Ecclestone, having presumably been inspired by the Beijing Olympics in the summer, wanted to eradicate points from the drivers campaign and replace them with medals. This in itself is not confusing, but what happened next is…
Ecclestone felt sure his idea would encourage overtaking as the world champion would be decided by the driver with the most gold medals (or in other words, the most wins). This, according to Bernie, means that drivers would be more willing to overtake as the difference between first and second place would be that little bit more crucial.
However, Mosley wasn’t so keen on the idea and after a little bit of debate where Ecclestone didn’t get his way, it was decided to defer any decision until after some market research had been completed. And this is where it does get a little confusing.
Almost immediately after Ecclestone failed to get his idea passed through the FIA’s approval process, the sport’s commercial rights holder put an article up on the official Formula One website (which Bernie controls) outlining the idea behind medals. Included at the bottom of the post was a voting poll, very similar to those you occasionally see here on BlogF1. It wasn’t labeled as official market research or anything similar, but at the time caused some furrowed brows while some us attempted to work out exactly where Bernie’s voting thingy fell in the grand scheme of things.
Little more happened over the holiday period and to be honest, most of us had hoped that the idea had been forgotten about. Alas, we are not quite that lucky and today the FIA has published some analysis. What is fantastic about what the FIA have published is that we can clearly see who would have won a championship with medals in comparison to who did win it with points. We can also see if a new driver would have been world champion or even different multiples of world champion had they raced under the medal system.
What it isn’t though is market research. And that is what I really want to read. It is all well and good getting an intern to sit down at a computer and run through all the championships applying Bernie’s scheme, but that doesn’t tell us what you, I or indeed the FIA want. For the record though, the statistics tell us that:
- Stirling Moss would have taken Mike Hawthorn’s title in 1958
- Jim Clark would have taken the ’64 and ’67 titles from John Surtees and Denny Hulme respectively
- Mario Andretti would have won the 1977 championship instead of Niki Lauda
- Alan Jones would have beaten Jody Scheckter in 1979
- Nelson Piquet would have lost all three of his titles, once to Nigel Mansell and twice to Alain Prost
- Didier Pironi would have been the 1982 champion and not Keke Rosberg
- Nigel Mansell would have been a triple world champion, winning Alain Prost second title in 1986 (before taking Piquet’s and his own)
- Ayrton Senna would have also stolen a title from his nemesis, Alain Prost
- And of course, Felipe Massa would have won in 2008, beating Lewis Hamilton
- Michael Schumacher would still be on 7 titles
- Juan Manuel Fangio would still be on 5 titles
- Alain Prost would have equaled Fangio’s record though
- Jim Clark and Ayrton Senna would each win 4 titles, two and one more than in reality
- Jack Brabham, Jackie Stewart and Nigel Mansell would each have won 3 titles
Also of note, 14 championship battles would have been shorter with medals, the eventual world champion having wrapped up the title sooner than they actually did under the points. 8 championships would have been longer and we would have lost 5 final race showdowns had the medal system been in place since 1950.
The full results can be downloaded from the FIA website, and while they do make for interesting reading to someone who enjoys statistics, I’m still eagerly awaiting the market research to see what you all think. Or at least, those who were asked. Presuming of course, some of you were asked…