Bernie Ecclestone floated the idea of replacing the current points system with medals a while ago. It was around the time of the Olympics, which must have spurred him on to suggest the subject. He insisted that it would increase the desire for drivers to win rather than settle for points, and that would make overtaking better and the championship more exciting. The idea has fallen out of the headlines until recently, when the FIA released some statistics on the subject. They applied the gold, silver and bronze medals idea to all the previous championships to see how things would be different.
Here are some of the results they came up with:
- Only 22 of the 59 World Championships to date would have the same top 3. The other 37 World Championships would be different. The World Champion would be altered on 13 occasions.
- The medal system would create three "new" World Champions who did not win the title using the various points systems.
- The overall effect would be to reduce the number of World Champions, concentrating the titles in a smaller group.
- The results that would change are largely before 1990. The last 20 years would be largely unchanged.
They went into a lot more detail, taking a look at which World Champions would have gained a title or two, and those which would have lost. Overall, Michael Schumacher would still have kept his seven titles, and would still be the most successful, whilst poor old Nelson Piquet Sr would have lost all three of his titles and be without his former champion status.
They also looked at how long the battles in each season would have lasted for. We have been spoilt for the last couple of years that the championship fight has gone right down to the wire. It's not always that exciting, and under the medals scheme, it would have been even worse. 14 of the World Championship battles would have been over quicker than they were in reality, whilst 8 would have been longer. Overall we would have gained one season finale championship showdown.
It's not clear what the FIA are trying to prove with this information. It's unlikely they are providing it for no reason. They did suggest market research would be carried out to guage the reaction to the medal idea, and perhaps this is just a fore-runner to that process. Either way, it is an interesting perspective on the history of F1, but I still hope the medals don't make it into the rulebook.