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Page last updated at 13:17 GMT, Thursday, 19 March 2009

F1 change 'could improve racing'

Red Bull F1 driver Mark Webber
Webber can see the pros and cons of the new F1 championship system

By Andrew Benson

Red Bull's Mark Webber believes Formula 1's decision to award the world title to the driver who wins most Grands Prix could lead to better racing.

Webber said the change was unnecessary but added that it would probably mean drivers took more risks trying to win.

"If a driver was second, he'll be even more keen to pass the guy in front because the rewards for winning are so much greater than before," Webber said.

Double world champion Fernando Alonso also said the change was not needed.

"I don't understand this need to constantly change the rules in this sport. I think these decisions only confuse fans even more," the Renault driver said on his website.

Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, who retired at the end of 2006, added: "I cannot see how it makes sense to eventually have a world champion who has less points than the driver coming in second, even if I also think it is a good move to try to strengthen the winner's position."


Schumacher also backed Ferrari and the new Brawn GP outfit to do well this season whilst tipping McLaren to struggle.

He told his personal website: "The last impressions were showing that we (Ferrari) look pretty good and should be in the position to fight for the world championship titles.

"Besides us there are Renault and Toyota, and BMW and Williams as well.

"On the other hand, after Barcelona you clearly have to say that Ross's (Brawn) team was outstanding.

"McLaren at the moment looks pretty bad."

The rule change will be introduced this season, which starts in Australia in 10 days' time, following a decision by governing body the FIA on Tuesday.

It only affects the world champion - all other places will be decided by the existing points system, which will also be used to decide a tie if the two leading drivers have the same number of wins.

But although Webber felt drivers would end up being more aggressive, he said the rule was "not good or bad".

"I can see why they're trying to do it like that so there could be some guys who might not sit in so much and to start going for wins, especially when it's down to two or three guys," the 32-year-old said in an interview with BBC Sport.

Fernando Alonso
Alonso said he did not understand why there were so many rule changes in F1

But he added: "The last few years we've had bloody exciting races. It wouldn't have been something I would have thought of or done, but we'll see how it comes out.

"It's going to affect key parts of the races. Everyone's trying to win, that's clear, but the difference between a win and second now is huge, much bigger than in the past.

"There could be a fraction more aggression shown towards victories in the future because second places won't mean as much, and winning will mean a lot more."

Webber added that the decision had a number of downsides - it risks the championship being decided earlier if one team and driver dominates; and it means a driver would no longer be rewarded for consistency.

He used the example of BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica, who was regarded by some observers as the driver of the season last year despite only winning one race.

His consistently strong points-scoring performances meant he was still in the running for the title with two races to go despite his single victory.

Webber said: "Robert Kubica would have been nowhere near the championship last year, and do you want that?

"Robert drove awesome last year and he would have been nowhere near the title hunt with these regulations."

He added: "You could have the world champion making more mistakes than the guy who is second.

"Whether consistency makes a better driver, or the driver who wins more races is better than the guy who is more competitive at more races throughout the season, is a matter of opinion."

And he said that it was wrong to apply the system to past championships and make value judgements about who would or would not have been champion.

It's like saying Coventry can play with 30 players against Manchester United with 11

Mark Webber on F1's new £30m cost-cap plan

"What I hate is the comparisons to what Stirling Moss or Lewis Hamilton or whoever might have done in the past - because that wasn't the rules you were racing with," Webber said.

"We know what the rules are for this year and people will race accordingly. The people who won the championships in the past deserved them and the same will be the case in the future."

The new points system was one of a number of changes made this week - the FIA also said it would introduce a voluntary £30m budget cap for 2010, and allow teams who agreed to operate under it more freedom with their cars.

FIA president Max Mosley said he would adjust the performance of the respective cars to keep them all equivalent.

Webber said he expected that rule to be rejected as part of the ongoing political dispute over the sport's future.

"I'm not too bothered about it because I think it will change," Webber said.

"It's like saying Coventry can play with 30 players against Manchester United with 11.

"Or in tennis, we'll lower the net for you because you don't have as good a racket, and we'll put it back up again for the other guy.

"Sometimes it's hard to see where we are going [in F1]. Rewarding yourself for doing well is about knowing other people have had the same opportunity to do well and you've done a better job than them."

Alonso said he "hoped there was some way these measures could be reconsidered soon".

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see also
Briatore concerned by budget rule
18 Mar 09 |  Formula 1
GP wins will decide world title
17 Mar 09 |  Formula 1
Mark Webber column
12 Feb 09 |  Formula 1
Mark Webber column
13 Jan 09 |  Formula 1
Red Bull expect wins from new car
09 Feb 09 |  Formula 1
Webber back to test Red Bull car
11 Feb 09 |  Formula 1
Mark Webber Q&A
07 Nov 08 |  Formula 1

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