PARIS, March 18 – Formula One chiefs ruled on Tuesday that as of this season the coveted drivers' championship title will be awarded to the driver who wins the most races, and not he who collects most points.
The dramatic move is part of reforms aimed at giving a new lease of life to the troubled sport that has been badly hit on the one hand by the world financial crisis but also by processional races with little overtaking.
Under the new rules if two or more drivers finish the season with the same number of race wins, the title will be awarded to the driver with the most points, the allocation of points being based on the current 10, 8, 6 etc. system.
The decision was one of several made at a meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in Paris on Tuesday, a meeting called to "help reduce costs and increase interest in the FIA Formula One World Championship" according to a statement released by the FIA, world motor sport’s governing body.
"The WMSC accepted the proposal from Formula One Management to award the drivers’ championship to the driver who has won the most races during the season," added the statement.
"If two or more drivers finish the season with the same number of wins, the title will be awarded to the driver with the most points, the allocation of points being based on the current 10, 8, 6 etc. system.
"The rest of the standings, from second to last place, will be decided by the current points system. There is no provision to award medals for first, second or third place. The Constructors’ Championship is unaffected.
"The WMSC rejected the alternative proposal from the Formula One Teams’ Association to change the points awarded to drivers finishing in first, second and third place to 12, 9 and 7 points respectively."
Had the new rules been in place in 2008, Britain’s Lewis Hamilton would have lost the title to runner-up Brazilian Felipe Massa, whom he pipped on the final bend of the final race of the season.
Nelson Piquet of Brazil would have lost all three of his titles, Stirling Moss would have become the first British world champion, and Ayrton Senna would have won the 1989 title, giving the legendary Brazilian four consecutive wins between 1988 and 1991.
Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has welcomed the new rules. He said: "If I need a gold medal to win the championship, I will overtake. It’s just not on that someone can win the championship without winning a race."
Ecclestone added to BBC Radio 5 Live: "If you’re in the lead and I’m second, I wouldn’t want to risk falling off the circuit or doing something stupid to get two points."
This year’s Formula 1 championships comprises 17 races starting with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 29 and ending with the new Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on November 1.
The FIA also announced it would publish the weights of the cars after qualifying for each Grand Prix. That could give a clue to which teams are using the optional kinetic energy recovery system (Kers).