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Seven-time champion Michael Schumacher astonished by F1 changes
MADRID — Seven-time champion Michael Schumacher was "astonished" by Formula One's decision to alter the way the world championship is decided on the eve of the new season.

The former Ferrari driver said Thursday on his website that the championship was wide open with many "question marks before the first races." The season begins on March 29 at the Australian Grand Prix.

"But this is what makes the whole thing so attractive, isn't it? I doubt the same goes for the new rules given out on such a late moment prior to the season - something which to me is really, well, astonishing," Schumacher wrote.

Governing body FIA decided Tuesday that the championship will be given to the driver with the most victories rather than the most accumulated points.

"I cannot imagine those changes to help F1, especially regarding the new system to find the champion," Schumacher said. "I cannot see how it makes sense to eventually have a world champion who has less points than the driver coming in second, even if I also think it is a good move to try and make wins count for more."

Schumacher's former teammate Felipe Massa would have won last year's title instead of McLaren's Lewis Hamilton with the new rules. In all, seven championships would have been altered.

F1 teams had wanted to change the scoring system to better reflect the value of a victory, awarding 12 points for a win rather than 10. F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone initially pushed for a medals tally before having his revised proposal accepted on Tuesday. Points will still be awarded and will be used as a championship tiebreaker if several drivers have the same number of wins.

"I think it's really absurd and dangerous to create a situation like this one week before the start of the season," Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo said from the sidelines of a meeting with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano. "It's very negative for the credibility (of the sport).

"The teams have already started reducing costs by 50 per cent. It's important to create a calmer climate and avoid continuous rule changes that create uncomfortable situations and worries."

FIA also passed a voluntary budget cap that could handicap the bigger teams and quell F1's status as an innovative sport.

"In general we should also make sure that F1 remains the top series of motorsport, displaying its competition also on the highest technology level," Schumacher said.

The 40-year-old Schumacher, who still works with Ferrari, believes Renault, Toyota, Williams and Brawn GP will contend with the Italians for this year's title.

"McLaren at the moment looks pretty bad," he said of Ferrari's traditional rival.

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