Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

The F1 title race, in old money

September 30, 2010

GERMANY/McLaren’s Formula One champions Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton have both sought solace in the scoring system after recent setbacks.

But in fact, if they did the maths they might feel a little bit sore. Applying the 2009 points to the 2010 results so far, the title battle would actually be even tighter.

“I think the new points system has definitely amplified what people think of the standings, but I’ve always imagined the points as they would have been under last year’s system,” Button said after last weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix left him fifth overall and 25 points adrift of Red Bull’s championship leader Mark Webber.

“So, in old money, I’m 10 points off Mark, and Lewis is about eight or nine behind him. And, with four races to go, that’s not much at all.”

“When you say you’re 25 points off the lead, that sounds a lot – but it’s just easier for me to reference it by the old system. It makes it seem easier to understand and compute, too.”

Hamilton, who has retired from three of the last four races, is 20 points behind Webber with four races remaining while Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso is 11 off the Australian.

“That’s still less than a race win,” said Hamilton. “It’s easy to get disheartened by being 20 points away, because it sounds such a lot, but under last year’s rules, that’s only about eight points – and to be eight points off with four races left is nothing really.”

Maybe, instead of simply converting 25 into 10, they should look at the detail.

The scoring system has been expanded to the top 10 drivers this season from the previous leading eight finishers and more of a premium has been put on winning with a 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 format.

If the old 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 system were applied to this year’s results then Webber would in fact be leading the championship with 80 points rather than 202.

Alonso would be second on 77 (191 today) with Hamilton third on 75 (182).

Reigning champion Button would still be ranked fifth overall on 72 (177), two behind Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel (181).

The positions would be the same either way. 

But, far from needing a win to catch up with Webber (assuming the Australian drew a blank), Hamilton would actually be only a fourth place away in old currency. Naturally, this is conveniently forgetting that drivers respond to the rules of the day. The new system was designed to reward overtaking and encourage drivers to go for victory rather than settling for solid points.

Hamilton, of course, has done just that. And another win could still see him back on top.

PHOTO: McLaren Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton chats with pupils during his visit to the John-Lennon-Gymnasium secondary school in Berlin, September 28, 2010. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz

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