Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The winner takes it all

Man, I've gone three years without quoting Abba on this blog. Damn you FIA!

Mornings for me, like most people I guess, are tough. I have to grapple with wardrobe decisions (something I hate), try to eat a bowl of generally disgusting high-fibre cereal, face up to yet another commute in the rain on my motorcycle, and do all this after being rudely separated from blissful unconsciousness by the alarm on my irritating and ineligible-for-an-upgrade-until-May cellphone.

It doesn't help when my well-intentioned and well-informed wife throws out a comment like "did you hear Formula 1 is going to decide its champion based on number of wins this year".

This is something we all feared - Mad Bernie's medals system. Surely this was too mad to ever make it? Well, welcome to F1, where madness is the norm and those with sanity are considered insane.

However, further reading on the topic slightly alleviated my unhappiness. Turns out that only the winner of the championship will be decided by number of wins. All other positions will still be determined by points. It's a huge roll of the dice by the FIA since a situation like last year could easily crop up again whereby the guy with the most points isn't the guy who won the most races. How will Joe Public understand that? The old system seems to work just fine in every other motorsport championship.

It works well beyond motorsport too. Imagine if the Tour de France used an equivalent of the new FIA system? Mark Cavendish would have won the 2008 Tour with four stage wins. Except he wouldn't, because he left the race to train for the Olympics. Which meant Stefan Schumacher and Riccardo Ricco would have tied with two wins and it would have gone back to the old system to determine which of them was the winner. Except it wouldn't, because Ricco was thrown off the Tour for a positive drug test. This would have elevated Alejandro Valverde, who came second to Ricco on stage 6 to two stage wins, now tied with Schumacher. Hang on though, Schumacher tested positive for drugs in a retest two months after the Tour ended, so Valverde in theory would be the only guy with two wins. Hang on again, because the organizers haven't officially undone the wins of Ricco and Schumacher, even though Schumacher was also later disqualified. So Cavendish didn't win because he withdrew. Ricco didn't win because he was thrown off the race. Schumacher didn't win because he was later disqualified. Valverde didn't win because Ricco's win on stage 6 still stands. That means that ALL other stage winners would have tied, so the decider would have been the old system, and finally we would have gotten the same winner, Carlos Sastre, after much confusion and many months of delay.

You know you're in trouble when the controversy-riddled Tour de France is used as example of how things SHOULD work....

No comments: