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Hamilton hits out at F1 rule changes

Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton criticised recent rule changes today, saying it was hard to see how they would improve the sport for spectators.

"I think it's a shame what's happening to Formula One," said the 24-year-old Briton in a statement provided by his McLaren team.

"It's hard to believe that these recent decisions will improve things for the trackside spectators and TV viewers, who should always be our number one priority, but I guess we'll have to wait and see.

"Whatever the points system, I know that all Formula One drivers will always race our hearts out," added Hamilton, who starts the defence of his title in Melbourne next week.

The International Automobile Federation (FIA) announced that the championship would this season go to the driver who won most races rather than most points.

Hamilton won last year's crown by a single point in a nail biting finale despite winning fewer races than his Brazilian Ferrari rival Felipe Massa.

FIA also said it was giving teams the option to compete with greater technical freedom in 2010 provided they accepted a £30m budget cap.

Those teams who wanted to continue with unlimited budgets, with some spending in excess of $300 million last year, would be subject to technical restrictions.

The Formula One Teams Association (FOTA), chaired by Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo and in which McLaren also play a major role, had made their own proposals to halve costs in 2010 compared to 2008.

They had also suggested amending the points structure to give race winners 12 points rather than 10 to provide an additional incentive to win.

After FIA rejected the FOTA proposal, Montezemolo said the changes risked "turning on its head the very essence of Formula One".

Hamilton's comments echoed those of retired seven times world champion Michael Schumacher who said on his website on Thursday that he was astonished by the FIA's action.

"I cannot imagine those changes helping F1, especially the new system to find the champion," added the German.

"I cannot see how it makes sense to eventually have a world champion who has fewer 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."