Just before the start of the Bahrain GP, it was announced that Formula One bosses failed to agree on a new qualifying format during a meeting today, but will analyse a new proposal ahead of a further meeting on Thursday.
After widespread criticism of 2016’s elimination-style qualifying, which has twice failed to excite fans or mix up the order at the front of the grid; the teams met on Saturday to discuss a replacement. The team’s suggestion of reverting to last year’s format was rejected by the FIA and Bernie Ecclestone, with new proposals discussed ahead of further analysis this week.
In order not to rush into another flawed concept, the teams will now analyse a new proposal ahead of another meeting on Thursday. The proposal is believed to retain the three separate Q1, Q2 and Q3 sessions, but rather than drivers’ positions being decided over one flying lap it would instead be worked out from an aggregate of two timed laps. The system would ensure drivers spend more time on track, but tyre usage and the chances of it mixing up the grid need to be analysed.
In an interview with the media this afternoon, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said the following about the current situation as follows:-
‘There’s an unwillingness from the promoter and the FIA to go back to 2015. The teams would go back, but a compromise has been put on the table for the teams to consider.
‘Let’s have a look at what has been put on the table today, we need to analyse it and see. The bottom line is that if we don’t agree to a compromise then we are stuck with what we’ve got. I think that everybody agrees what we’ve got isn’t right.’
In his own interview with the media today, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff added that teams wanted full analysis rather than experimentation of new ideas during the next qualifying session in China. Wolff stated the following:-
‘This was the main message from the teams: No more experiments.’
Also today, Pirelli’s motor sport boss Paul Hembery hinted that more than one proposal was still under consideration ahead of Thursday’s meeting. Hembrey hinted with the following:-
‘There’s lots of things on the table and we have got to analyse it. We’ll know by Thursday what we are going to come up with.’
We also saw Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams saying that the team are unified in making changes to qualifying but doesn’t know exactly what is happening. Williams added the following:-
‘We’re unified in that we need to make changes to the existing system that we have. It’s far too early days to know what the result of that proposal and everyone’s analysis of it will be.
‘I don’t want to come out and say what it is, personally, I don’t know if the FIA or the commercial rights holder will. I think it’s up to them if they want to come out and say it – but I think we need to understand it first before putting it on the table and creating more confusion.’
Overall, this is a big mess that Formula One doesn’t want or need right now. With the fans and the drivers wanting clarification on this matter, it seems that the FIA, FOM or the teams are not willing to go back to what we had last year and I am wondering why?
The format worked. It was fair and everyone knew where we stood. Now no one has a clue anymore and many fans are dreading to watch a qualifying session because of this and are starting to tune in more to Practice sessions and not qualifying. And that is a shame because we do see the teams and drivers showing their full speed in qualifying and if no one is watching, then what is the point?
All I can to conclude is that they need to go back to the old system if they can. And anymore change to the sport we love will just project an negative image that they might not recover from or gain any new fans as a result. Please for the love of God, just either go back to what we know or find a viable, proper and sensible solution that shows F1 in a positive light.