Formula 1 set to abandon new qualifying

Media playback is not supported on this device

Australian GP: F1’s new qualifying format explained

Formula 1 looks set to abandon the controversial new elimination qualifying system in the wake of heavy criticism after its introduction at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone admitted it had not worked, but said he was reluctant to revert to the old system.

The 85-year-old wants to introduce an element of uncertainty in the hope it will hinder Mercedes’ domination.

Teams are expected to meet in Melbourne on Sunday to discuss what to do next.

The new system sees the slowest car knocked out every 90 seconds in the second part of each of three sessions.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said the previous system – where the slowest six cars were eliminated at the end of each of the first two sessions before a final top 10 shootout – should return for the next race in Bahrain on 1-3 April.

After Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg qualified at the front at Albert Park, Ecclestone said: “If we go back, Mercedes would be first and second.

“What I don’t want to see is where you and I could predict how the grid is going to be for the start of a race, and how that race is going to finish.”

Media playback is not supported on this device

Who will win the F1 season opener in Melbourne?

Teams advised the governing body that the new system would result in no cars on track at the end of the final session as a result of people running out of tyres – and that is exactly what happened.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who was third, had time to change out of his overalls into jeans and team kit before the post-qualifying news conference after only doing one run in the final session.

But Ecclestone said he would prefer to retain parts of the old system and then have a way of demoting the fastest drivers on the grid.

“My idea was a simple one – you leave qualifying alone,” he said.

“But I wanted to take the results of the last race, and the guy that won that race would have so many seconds, or tenths of a second, added to his qualifying time.

“So that might put the guy on pole in sixth or seventh or wherever, and then we would get a mixed-up grid and some good racing for at least half the race.”


Debate will continue as to whether the new qualifying system is exciting enough for fans

World champion Lewis Hamilton said: “I hope they don’t go back to what we had before. I don’t think it was the best anyway.

“We could try something new for the next four races. Bring us some more tyres, give us more time, make us go out and use them, give us more laps, so people are constantly watching so when the cars cross the line at the end you don’t know who’s going to get pole position.”

Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff said the new system was “pretty terrible”, adding: “Some of the promoters expressed a wish for a better Saturday show.

“Two proposals were on the table – one was reverse grid and the other was that one. We voted for the least worst.

“You can’t say no, no, no, all the time, so this time we felt maybe it’s worth exploring and see how it is and the conclusion is it is not good.”

But he added: “There are two schools of thought. We could return to what we had before. If we move to a different format, we should think carefully about what it should be.”

The plan was introduced in an attempt to introduce some uncertainty into qualifying in the hope some top teams would get caught out and quick drivers would end up out of place for the start of the race.

This did work to an extent as Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat ended up 18th. Horner admitted the team had made operational mistakes.

The first race of the new season gets under way on Sunday at 05:00 GMT, with coverage on radio 5 live from 04:00 GMT and online from 03:30.

comments powered by Disqus