• Ecclestone favours driver with most F1 GP wins as champion
• ‘Out of the many ideas, this is potentially one of the worst’
Bernie Ecclestone has had his plans to introduce a gold-medal system to Formula One shot down by the past two world champions, the British pair of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton.
Despite the fact that the sport faces its most exciting finish for almost 30 years, with five drivers battling it out over the final five races under the revamped points system, Ecclestone, Formula One’s commercial-rights holder, would like to see the championship won by the driver with most victories. However, Hamilton sounded incredulous today when he said: “Out of the many ideas that have come out, this is potentially one of the worst. I would say it’s not his greatest idea.
“What Bernie has achieved in Formula One is absolutely phenomenal and no one else could have done as great a job as him. But even the best have ideas that are not as good as their best ideas, and even the best are not always right.”
His McLaren team-mate Button said: “Last year I would have said: ‘Yes, it’s a fantastic idea,’ but this year not so much. I could have just sat out the last few races, gone on a big holiday for three months [and still been champion].
“There has been a points system in F1 forever. I like it, it’s been exciting working to a points system. It still doesn’t stop you challenging for a win. You are still going to go for the win if you have a chance.
“At the last race we wouldn’t have done anything different if there had been a medals system. I still would have finished second because we didn’t do quite as good a job and we weren’t quite as quick as the Ferrari, and my car was damaged. I think he is looking from the point of view that you have better racing, but it’s not the case from my point of view.”
The drivers were speaking shortly after Ecclestone had relaunched his ambition to see the medals system introduced. It is something he will not leave alone: “Maybe they will wake up and think about my gold-medal system now. Because Mark [Webber of Red Bull] would have four gold medals now and two other guys with three, so the championship could go all the way to the wire.”
Ecclestone made his fresh plea for the introduction of medals despite the fact that under the current system the race is likely to go to the last race in Abu Dhabi in any case. When asked if he could see the medal system being accepted, he said: “Yes, for sure. They will see now what could happen, let’s wait and see.”
Ecclestone says he is not worried about the Commonwealth Games chaos in Delhi, which is due to stage its first Formula One race next year. When asked about the current problems in India he said: “No, it’s a different organisation altogether, completely different. So I have no worries at all.” Pressed on the fact that the Games organisers were making a shambles of their event, he replied: “The people who, as you say, are making a shambles are not the people who are dealing with us for the race.”
Meanwhile, Hamilton said that if Button wins this year’s world championship the friendship between the two McLaren team-mates will survive. The 2008 champion said: “I don’t have a problem. I am accepting of the fact that Jenson could win it. Could be him. If he wins it above me then it means he’s done a better job and I’ll take my hat off to him. I’m sure he’ll do the same for me.”
He said that he has learnt from his error at the Italian grand prix when he crashed on the first lap. “I’ve already drawn a line under Monza and learnt from the experience. While it was extremely disappointing, those things are sometimes what you need to sharpen your mind and raise your game and motivation at an extremely crucial time in the season.”