New points system to reward more drivers

A new FORMULA 1 points system and ex-drivers joining the stewards rota were among the key changes voted for by the World Motor Sport Council in its first gathering under Jean Todt’s leadership in Monaco.

The old 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 system has been replaced by a new format that rewards the top 10 finishers on the basis of 25-20-15-10-8-6-5-3-2-1. Ninth and 10th places have been included ostensibly so that more drivers on the expanded 26-car grid have the chance to score.

Prior to the WMSC vote, the system was discussed and supported at the previous day’s meeting of the revamped F1 Commission. It was the first meeting of the body, which has been in limbo for several years, since the Concorde Agreement was signed in July. Bernie Ecclestone and new FIA president Todt were both present, so approval by the WMSC was a formality.

While the points weighting between the top three (and seventh) places remains the same, fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth are now worth less than they used to be relative to the score for a win. Fourth used to be worth 50 per cent of a victory, but the figure is now 40 per cent. Intriguingly, however, no title battles of the past decade would have produced different outcomes had they been run to the new system.

Sensibly, the changes put a greater emphasis on podium finishes, but one downside is that the new system is so different that any historical comparisons will now be impossible, and charting career totals for active drivers becomes meaningless.

The addition of the voice of ex-F1 drivers to the stewards system is a positive move, and will in theory lead to fairer calls on driving infringements. Hitherto there have been three stewards at each race, all drawn from the world of motoring clubs. Traditionally one is from the host country and two are from a pool of WMSC members. Over the past two seasons they have been joined by a non-voting chairman in the form of Alan Donnelly, a long-time FIA advisor.

Donnelly’s remit was to review the system, and now he’s done that his role has been dropped. Instead the regular stewards will be joined by an ex-driver, who is likely to have an advisory role and thus not actually vote. The stewards will elect their own chairman at each event.

No drivers have been named as yet for what is likely to be a rotating pool of three or four regulars, but Alain Prost is believed to be top of Todt’s list. The role may not prove attractive, however, because candidates will be expected to work on all four days of a Grand Prix meeting, steer clear of the media, and not be seen socialising with team members.

Another key change inspired by Todt is the introduction of a commissioner for every FIA World Championship, in effect replicating a role that Donnelly was covering in F1 in his parallel job as Mosley’s official representative at Grands Prix.

Personally proposed by Todt and reporting directly to him, the commissioners will be “tasked with supervising the general running of the championship and its development on behalf of the FIA. The commissioners are not empowered to take decisions or to perform any other act of a regulatory nature which may come under the remit (sporting, technical, organisational or disciplinary) accorded to the officials of the event by the International Sporting Code.”

Sources say that the F1 Commissioner, who will have to commit to all 19 race weekends, will be a former CEO of a ‘blue chip’ company.

Meanwhile Todt has seized some of the momentum created last year by FOTA and tasked the FIA Sporting Working Group to come up with ways of ‘improving the show’. Changes will be considered in January for possible introduction as early as this season.

Adam Cooper