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Massa opposes moves to rank F1 season on race wins
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — If 2008 season results were repeated this year, Ferrari's Felipe Massa would have the most to gain from any change in Formula One regulations to award the world championship to the driver with the most GP wins.

Yet even he opposes any move to change a system which rewards the most consistent driver with the title.

"I think for sure the winner needs a better advantage from first to second, but not in terms of victory, in terms of points," Massa said Thursday at the Ferrari team launch ahead of Sunday's season-opening Australian GP.

Auto racing governing body FIA — in the face of pressure from teams and drivers — last week backed down from a new scoring system for 2009 that would have meant the title awarded to the driver with the most race wins instead of the highest accumulated points total.

Massa last year lost the closest championship battle in F1. He won the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix, but lost the drivers' title by one point to McLaren's Lewis Hamilton after the Briton passed Toyota's Timo Glock around the final corner to finish fifth — giving him enough points (98) to win the title.

Hamilton would have finished second to Massa had the race victories system applied last year. Massa won six GP races to Hamilton's five.

Massa said he was in favor of a proposal by The Formula One Teams' Association that there be a bigger points differential between first place and second place in each race. Currently, the first eight drivers in each race get points, ranging down from 10 awarded to first, 8 to second place and six for third.

But he said FIA's bid to introduce its new system, then deciding in the wake of backlash from teams and drivers to postpone the changes to 2010, was disruptive.

"One week you have some news, the next everything changes, so I think we need to some consistent rules and consistent working to make things a little more serious," he said.

"To be honest, when I saw the points coming out from FOTA that increased the difference between first and second (place) ... for me it was the best for Formula One. Then there came out a completely different story a few weeks ago and it was a mess. Nobody liked it to be honest."

Massa said the F1 championship was similar to most other sports in that it should be based on consistency over a season, not a single race.

"I've heard many people saying that the driver doesn't fight so much for the victory. The driver always fights for the victory, but he needs to concentrate on the whole championship," he said "You need to think of the whole championship, not just one race, because if the driver wins two races or three races the championship is finished.

"Even within a team, if one driver wins three races the other driver has no chance (under FIA's proposed system) because the team will do everything for the driver who won the three races. You force the teams to have a first driver and that's not good for the sport."

After a disastrous start to last season, when he retired on the 30th lap at Melbourne before spinning out in Malaysia the following week, Massa knows how important early points can be at the end of the season.

"For sure I'm looking for the victory and the best I can to try and win the race, but it's important to finish in the points," he said. "We saw last year the points can be very important at the beginning of the season. At the end as well, but at the beginning it's always important not to lose points."

While teammate Kimi Raiikonen was impressed with Ferrari's new F60 race car, he was noncommittal on its chances at Melbourne.

"I think it's a good package, but it's too early to tell how strongly we'll do. We'll see tomorrow and over the weekend," said the Finnish driver, who finished third in last season's championship.

Massa was also reluctant to make predictions.

"With testing it's important to have an idea (how the car performs), but for a race weekend you have not a clue of how you're comparing with other teams."

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