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Race wins to decide F1 crown

FORMULA One's championship will be decided by the number of race wins and not accumulated points.

Governing body FIA decided yesterday that the current points system will remain in effect to determine the driver's title in the case of a tie, with points also determining the order of the drivers who finish the season behind the overall champion.

Under the new system, Ferrari's Felipe Massa would have won the 2008 championship instead of Lewis Hamilton of McLaren. The Brazilian driver won six grand prix races to Hamilton's five.

The 10 F1 teams have been looking to change the points to a 12-9-7 scoring system for first through third place, from its current 10-9-8 allocation. F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone had initially preferred a medals tally, but FIA approved Ecclestone's revised proposal, which will not affect the constructors' championship.

FIA's World Motor Sports Council also approved further regulation changes to decrease costs in the face of the worldwide economic crisis.

"All teams will have the option to compete with cars built and operated within a stringent cost cap," the council said.

A proposed cap of 30 million pounds (US$42 million) would cover expenditures of "any kind" and to give such cars greater technical freedom. That would entail "a more aerodynamically efficient upper body, movable wings and an engine which is not subject to a rev limit or a development freeze."

Car weights will be published following Saturday's session and would rename tire grades for better clarity to spectators. Drivers must also be available for further autograph sessions and better media availability.

In-season testing

F1 teams will also be limited to eight one-day aerodynamic tests during the course of the season instead of a total ban on in-season testing, and allowed three one-day "young driver" tests featuring pilots who have not raced more than two GPs in the preceding 24 months.

The council, meeting before the start of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on March 29, also rubber-stamped Brawn GP's purchase of Honda while waiving the new entry fee that usually accompanies a new team on the starting grid.

On the track, Renault's Fernando Alonso ended Brawn GP's recent Formula One testing dominance in Spain Monday by setting the fastest lap.

Alonso edged Brawn GP's Rubens Barrichello by 0.055 seconds with a quickest lap of 1 minute, 18.343 seconds around the Jerez Circuit, where only four teams are performing final tests before the season opener.

Barrichello and teammate Jenson Button had been the fastest over the past three sessions.

Button drove 12 laps and set the third fastest time ahead of McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg of Williams.


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