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Motor Racing

Race-win system delayed until 2010

Formula One's ruling body has backed down and agreed to put off a new points system for the sport until 2010 after the teams objected.

The Formula One Teams' Association said FIA's decision this week that the championship will go to the driver with the most race wins instead of highest points total was invalid, prompting the governing body to reverse course.

"If, for any reason, the Formula One teams do not now agree with the new system, its implementation will be deferred until 2010," FIA said in a statement yesterday. FIA said that it made its decision on Tuesday under the impression that the teams wanted the switch from the established system of giving the title to the driver with the most points.

The change met with criticism from drivers including world champion Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. Fota had rallied strongly against the move. "It is too late for FIA to impose a change for the 2009 season that has not obtained the unanimous agreement of all the competitors properly entered into the 2009 Formula One Championship," Fota said. However, they did not say whether they was prepared to lead to a boycott of the 2009 season, which starts on 29 March with the Australian Grand Prix.

The teams said their proposal to award more points for victories would make the sport more attractive. They want to reopen talks with the ruling body over a compromise for next season. The teams want to award 12 points rather than 10 for a race win, making individual victories more worth chasing.

"Fota had made a proposal that was carefully based on the results of a global audience survey, which allowed listening to preferences of the public," they said. "All the teams firmly believe that these indications should be properly taken into account. The teams wish to reaffirm their willingness to collaborate with the FIA in order to jointly define a new point system for the 2010 season within a comprehensive set of measures aimed at further stimulating the attractiveness of the sport."

Hamilton would have finished second behind Felipe Massa had the new system applied last year as led McLaren's Hamilton 6-5 in race wins. In fact, Hamilton won the title by one point.