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Lewis, Schumi slam changes

FORMULA One world champion Lewis Hamilton criticized recent rule changes yesterday, 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 No. 1 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.

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

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

Retired world champion Michael Schumacher and Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo have also blasted the rule changes.

Schumacher, who won five of his record seven titles with the Italian team, described the changes as "really, well, astonishing".

"In all the years, when the majority wanted to have a rule change for a good reason, they (FIA) always said that would not be possible in a short term or so late before a season," he said. "I cannot imagine those changes to help F1, especially regarding 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."

The FIA has also decided that teams would be able to compete with greater technical freedom from 2010 provided they accepted a budget cap of 30 million pounds (US$42.74 million).

Montezemolo, who also heads the Formula One Teams Association, said that the changes risked "turning on its head the very essence of Formula One."

"I think it's truly absurd, grave and dangerous that one week from the first grand prix, Formula One finds itself in a situation like this," he told the La Gazzetta dello Sport. "It's highly negative for credibility, certainty, the teams, the carmakers, the fans, the journalists and the sponsors.


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