AUTO RACING ROUNDUP: New points system, other changes in place for Formula One

  • Associated Press
  • Tuesday, February 2, 2010 11:09pm
  • Sports

VALENCIA, Spain — Formula One is set to formalize new regulations for the expanded 13-team championship that includes a points system that would reward the top 10 drivers while handing race winners 25 points.

Second-place drivers would earn 18 points, followed by 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 and 1 point, the sport’s governing body FIA said Tuesday. Since 1993, it went 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1.

Jenson Button would still have captured the 2009 championship with the new system, but by a greater margin over Sebastian Vettel.

“It’s a good decision to change this points system,” Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost said. “The reason for it is we are pushing for more overtaking maneuvers. We just hope this will be the case.”

FIA is also proposing to have the top-10 race qualifiers start on their qualifying tires, while the rest of the field could use new tires. F1 will also reduce the number of dry weather tires available to teams to “encourage teams to run during the Friday practice sessions.”

“We’re not 100 percent sure on this yet,” Tost said of having to race on the tires used in qualifying, although he did believe this would make races more interesting.

Measures to exclude the contentious double diffuser — a rear wing design that creates more downforce — from 2011 were also agreed on.

Teams protested against Brawn GP, Toyota and Williams last year over their interpretation of the diffuser rule after the design helped eventual constructors’ champion Brawn pull away from the pack. However, the double diffuser was later cleared for use.

The proposals will be submitted to the World Motor Sport Council for approval within 48 hours, FIA said.

IRL names new CEO

INDIANAPOLIS — Randy Bernard, the longtime head of the Professional Bull Riders Inc., is the new CEO of the Indy Racing League.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway president and CEO Jeff Belskus made the announcement Tuesday.

The 43-year-old Bernard spent 15 years overseeing the bull riders’ organization, helping grow the TV audience and attendance at events.

“I’m not going to try and pretend I know anything about racing,” he said Tuesday. “If I can’t learn racing, how are we going to bring new fans into the sport and teach them racing? My job is to re-ignite America on this great open-wheel racing series.”

Bernard will get a crash course on the history of the series, which includes the Indianapolis 500 coming up in about three months.

“I will spend hours in the Hall of Fame,” he said. “I will want to spend hours with past champions that will give me insight, and I will also want to spend a lot of time with fans. I want to hear their input.”

Bernard will work with one of the biggest stars in U.S. sports, Danica Patrick, yet he said the IRL will need more than her to reach his goals.

“I think there is definitely a Danica factor, but I also want to say that it has to be our job that if there’s 22 drivers, we have to build bigger superstars with all of them,” he said. “Nothing against Danica — what she’s been able to do is unbelievable. That’s fantastic, and she’s helped open wheel racing more than you’ll ever know. I’ll look at it as, we need four or five big, big superstars like that. That has to be our job.”

Indianapolis Motor Speedway president and CEO Jeff Belskus didn’t mind going outside of the racing world once he saw Bernard’s accomplishments. Under Bernard’s leadership last year, the IRL said, PBR attendance increased 12 percent and television ratings jumped 30 percent. Attendance is up 23 percent through five events in 2010.

“Randy is an experienced, successful CEO,” Belskus said. “He’s been in the sports and entertainment business. He’s a sports marketer, he’s a promoter. He’s had a lot of success with the Professional Bull Riders. We hope he can duplicate that here.”

The move caps months of turmoil. IRL founder Tony George was ousted last summer as CEO and president of the IndyCar series by the speedway board, which is controlled by his mother and sisters. Last month, he resigned from the board and the family business, Hulman &Co., and has since shut down his Vision Racing team.

Belskus said Bernard’s hiring provides stability.

“It’s very important, and Randy complements our team very well,” he said. “This is a great development for our organization, and it’s a key position in our organization, and he’ll make significant contributions.”

Belskus also said things have been looking up since IZOD became the series’ title sponsor last year, so he doesn’t expect Bernard to make sweeping moves.

“I don’t think you’ll see dramatic changes in what we’re doing, I think we’re just looking to ramp this up and change the slope of the growth here and accelerate it,” he said.

Bernard’s expectations of himself are high.

“I’ll market the sport the very best we can,” he said. “If we can’t fit more people in those seats and the ratings don’t go up, then I would say I didn’t do my job.

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