A Winner's Wish

Paul BoltonCorrespondent IMarch 18, 2009

Whilst researching the history of the F1 World Championship, I had noticed a number of titles that to me have always seemed unfairly won. Not due to a foul act or suspicious circumstances, but to me I felt sometimes the title winner was not the most deserving driver, or had not even been the best driver.

I here look into the Winner's Wish:

Particularly of interest to me have been the titles won where the driver has managed just a single race victory. Mike Hawthorn in 1958 and Keke Rosberg in 1982 are two classic champions in point here.

In '58 Hawthorn had one win, in France, whilst Stirling Moss had probably his best year in F1, winning the first and last races of the season in Argentina and a fantastic Moroccan race, whilst also bagging the Dutch and Portuguese GPs.

I am sure others might agree that '58 is regarded as Moss's year despite just missing out on the title.

Similarly in '82, Rosberg won in Switzerland whilst a host of other drivers won two races a piece: Didier Pironi, Alain Prost, Rene Arnoux, Niki Lauda, John Watson, all of whom could be regarded as having a better season.

So I was rather pleased to have woken up to the news that the title would be decided by race wins, then, if needed, a points system.

Whilst I know that the new points system was, in part, created due to the Schumacher dominance years, it was clear that it gave less of a reward for a winning: 10 points to eight points in second, compared to 10 points to six points previously.

With the current climate where teams are almost equally competitive, we are seeing a multitude of winners each season, usually the title contenders winning a few each whilst other drivers have grabbed their first wins such as Kovalainen, Vettel and Kubica.

So even though theoretically the title could now be won after just over half the season (e.g. if a driver wins the first 10 out of 18 races), I doubt that today such a situation would or could arise.

Had the system been in place since 1950 then I know that one of my favourite drivers, Nelson Piquet, would not have won any of his three titles. '81 and '83 going to Prost whilst Nigel Mansell would have claimed the title in '87.

Happily for me, the system is not retrospect! Leaving aside this, clearly in each of these three seasons, there were drivers winning more races than Piquet, so they were perhaps better and more deserving.

Onto modern times and with the recent 2009 testing times showing Red Bull, Renault and the new Brawn GP to be matching Ferrari and ahead of McLaren, then a system that encourages winning can only be worthwhile.

In Driven to Extremes, about Michael Schumacher, I recall a quote from Luca Di Montezemelo in 1998 saying that the F1 championship is not a series for taxi drivers. This would turn out to be ironic as during that year, if Schumacher had just been a taxi driver in Belgium, clocking off the laps until the end, he may have been champion that year.

But instead he wanted to win the race and I applaud this effort, even though it ended in vain, by crashing in David Coulthard.

This brings us onto last season where Lewis was required to finish in fift, so he raced to finish in fifth place. I am certain that Schumacher would have gone all out for the win, to win the title in style if nothing else.

As too Damon Hill was quoted in Sept. 1996 that he would not go around cruising for points to win the title, having a 13-point lead over his teammate rival Jacques Villeneuve.  

I found the Brazil 2008 race very difficult to watch as Felipe drove his heart out to record the home win he needed whilst Lewis just drove slowly around to gain his fifth place, albeit in dramatic circumstances at the end.

A rule that encourages drivers to win, or perhaps just to be more like the drivers of yesteryear who would try to win every race, is one that excites me.

I leave this discussion with a theoretical possibility. Using the current points system suppose that Lewis is second in all 18 races. He would then have 144 points. Then suppose that Alonso wins 14 races and comes eighth in another three, whilst DQing in the last race.

He would have 143 points.

I am sure many people that Alonso would have been the better driver yet would lose out on the title to a driver that had not won a race.

I feel that with the Winners' Wish system we know that the usual title contenders (Lewis, Alonso, Felipe, Kimi) and a host of others (Button, Vettel, Kubica, etc) will aim for wins in every race.

I look forward to the season opener!!