It’s a rule changed that was talked about a little while ago that had fans in uproar, and it became a reality today as the FIA announced that the 2009 Formula 1 World Championship will be decided by the number of wins and not the most points.
Wins over points
My initial reaction, was that of anger and despair! To think that the Championship could go to someone who does really well in 5 races but badly in the 12 other, to the point that they wouldn’t even need to finish those other races! Points will only come into the equation if there is a tie with the most number of wins.
The way this new points system works would have seen Felipe Massa crowned as Champion last year instead of Lewis Hamilton because Massa won 6 races to Lewis’s 5. Even as a huge Hamilton fan I have to admit that isn’t such a bad scenario as the first few races aside, it’s arguable that Massa was consistently the best driver of the 2008 season.
With an incredibly open field for 2009 there is scope for the 2009 season to be won by any number of drivers and I fully expect race wins to be shared amongst many drivers which will more than likely see a 2, 3 or maybe even A 4-way tie at the top which means that the Championship will actually be determined on points after all. We could be in for some very competitive races as drivers drive for the chequered flag.
The more I think about the new system, the more I think it may actually work. Only time will tell and come the last race in Abu Dhabi (wow, that sounds weird – I almost wrote Sao Paulo) we’ll all be in a much better position to see if the race win system works.
Amongst speculation that he may go elsewhere, 2 time former World Champion Fernando Alonso has signed with Renault for another 2 years. Given the progress Renault made in the 2nd half of the season and the fact that all the competitive teams have their drivers signed up for the 2009 season, this announcement comes as no surprise. What may surprise some is that he has signed for 2 years. Neither Kimi Raikkonen or Felipe Masa is contracted for the 2010 season and Ferrari is the team Alonso has been linked with on numerous occasions.
Also not going to Ferrari is 2008 World Champion Lewis Hamilton. Though his short term future is set with McLaren, through to the end of the 2012 season, Edie Ervine said earlier this week that Hamilton must drive for Ferrari at some point in his career. Hamilton yesterday confirmed what he has always said, that he wants to stay at McLaren and has no plans to ever drive for Ferrari.
Returning to Team Renault, it was announced yesterday that Nelson Piquet would be returning as Alonso’s team mate in 2009. Having a somewhat troubled season, the rookie improved in the 2nd half of the season, much like his esteemed team mate, and obviously did enough to secure his drive for 2009.
He had to finish 5th, he qualified 4th, he finished 5th…just!
What a way to end a Grand Prix season – the title was Hamilton’s and then it seemed to slip away as Vettel passed him and Glock didn’t pit – had it all gone wrong, again? As Hamilton’s many fans watched on in dismay the impossible (or not as it would seem) happened as Hamilton passed a very slow Glock to come in 5th and claim the World Championship. Ahead of him, and almost an afterthought, Masa finished his season with the victory in Sao Paulo and 2nd place in the Driver’s Championship.
Hamilton deserved to win, Massa deserved to win – we are guaranteed one heck of a season in 2009, especially with the improvements Renault have made and Alonso behind the wheel of that much improved car.
Congratulations Lewis Hamilton, 2008 Formula 1 World Champion, the youngest ever.
From pole to finish, Lewis Hamilton led the Chinese Grand Prix, with Kimi Raikkonen chasing until such time as it was right to let title challenger Felipe Massa pass.
With his 5th victory of the season, Lewis is now 7 points ahead of Felipe Massa going into the last race of the season in Brazil in 2 weeks time. 5th place or higher and Lewis Hamilton is the 2008 Formula 1 World Champion.
As much as I was thrilled to see Lewis win and edge that much closer to the Championship, as a race fan it was a pretty dull race with little action. What it did reinforce was how much the Renault cars have come on as the season has progressed with Fernando Alonso spearheading that renewed charge.
After a mistake in his penultimate lap of Q3 it looked like Hamilton could have some chasing to do at the start of the Chinese Grand Prix tomorrow, but a lightning quick last lap saw him streak to his 7th pole position of the season, more than 3 tenths of a second ahead of closest rival Kimi Raikkonen.
However, things are not as rosy as they seem; Hamilton shares the front row of the grid with 2007 Champion and team-mate of Felipe Masa, Kimi Raikkonen. Sitting in the second row of the grid are Hamilton’s current Championship challenger and Raikkonen’s Ferrari team-mate, Felipe Masa as well as Hamilton’s ex-team-mate Fernando Alonso. Alonso said this week that he will try to help Masa win the Championship. In 5th place, and lining up in the 3rd row on the grid, is Hamilton’s team-mate at McLaren and nearest ally, Heikki Kovalainen.
If Hamilton doesn’t get a good start tomorrow he could be in for the fight of his life and it’ll be time to truly test his mettle and rise to meet the expectations of his many fans, and shut the critics up. Hamilton can seek solace in the fact that Robert Kubica, who is currently 3rd in the Championship and statistically the only driver other than Masa who can beat Hamilton for the Championship, qualified in a lowly 11th place.
This picture of the podium in Japan shows Fernando Alonso as the winner, Robert Kubica in 2nd and Kimi Raikkenon in 3rd. Championship contender Felipe Masa gained 1 point with an 8th place finish while Championship leader Lewis Hamilton got no points finishing in 12th.
After being overtaken by Raikkenon at the start, Hamilton took a very aggressive strategy which led to him losing more places, colliding with Masa (well, Masa colliding with him!) and ending up at the back of the field. A drive through penalty for both Hamilton and Masa for separate incidents meant neither were going to add to their Championship totals by much.
Hamilton didn’t need to attack quite so vehemently and in doing so he probably cost himself a decent haul of points and an extension of his lead at the top of the Championship. Hamilton races with the head of a Champion at times, but at others, like in Japan today, he races with a hot head which leads to unnecessary mistakes which put his potential as the Champion at risk. Hamilton needs to learn that he doesn’t need to win every race to win the Championship and sometimes holding back a bit is better in the long run.
We look forward to China and Brazil with the Championship very much still up for grabs and a chasing Kubica even looking like an outside chance – remember Raikkenon last year?
UPDATE: Masa actually scored 2 points after Sébastien Bourdais got penalised post-race and relegated in the race positions, in what is a ridiculous call on the part of the stewards.