Should Monaco qualifying be split? (Poll)

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Drivers don't want to be stuck in traffic during qualifying

As predicted here two weeks ago some drivers have been complaining about the amount of traffic during qualifying sessions in F1.

Charlie Whiting has told the teams the session could be split so that not all the drivers go out at the same time – if they can agree on a solution.

Do you think qualifying at Monaco should be split?


Although it’s not clear exactly how it would work, splitting qualifying would mean having 12 instead of 24 cars on track at once, making it easier for each driver to do a lap without getting stuck in traffic.

Whether you consider that a good thing or not probably determines where you stand on this debate.


Last year 26 GP2 cars participated in a qualifying session of similar length at Monaco. Why should F1, with a higher standard of drivers, make life easier for its competitors than a junior category?

Timing a qualifying run and doing as quick a lap as possible despite traffic is an important part of a drivers’ skill – and all the drivers have to cope with the same problem.

This debate strikes at the heart of the problem of “improving the show” in F1. The teams want to be able to do clear, unimpeded laps because they want to be able to get the very best out of their car.

But seeing drivers cope with difficulties like traffic makes F1 exciting – just as we saw at Sepang when the Ferraris and McLarens made mistakes in qualifying and started at the back of the grid.

Anyone who supports the idea of splitting qualifying has lost sight of the fact that F1 isn’t just about who can build the fastest car – it’s also about who can make the best use of it over a race weekend.

They should leave Monaco qualifying alone. At present the drivers have a choice between going out early when the track won’t be as grippy but will be less busy, or going out later when the track offers more grip but, inevitably, more traffic. Whoever calls that decision best and sets the fastest time deserves to be on pole position.


Do you think qualifying should be split at Monaco? Cast your vote and have your say below:

Should qualifying be split in Monaco?

  • No opinion (4%)
  • No (74%)
  • Yes (22%)

Total Voters: 1,270

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Read more: Traffic a greater challenge in next races

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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75 comments on “Should Monaco qualifying be split? (Poll)”

  1. Ned Flanders
    8th May 2010, 12:26

    Heart says definitely not!
    Head says it might be the sensible thing to do

    1. yes I completly agree

    2. Nah it’s ********. How would it work? Which ever group went out last would have an advantage because the track would have “rubbered in” more.

  2. No. Finding the space to put in a clear lap and set a representative time is part of the challenge of qualifying. If the drivers are concerned about traffic, it simply means that they aren’t good enough at this crucial skill.

    The only way I can see it possibly being acceptable is if the session was split into two, with odd-numbered cars in one session and even-numbered cars in the second session. Dividing the field on performance alone would be grossly unfair.

    1. I’m getting really bored of myself here but once again (for possibly the 100th time) I agree with you when it comes to F1 ! :P
      Although I don’t think there should be any split, not with odd or even at all.
      Besides, quali will be more all over the place if people get held up so it’ll be more interesting. They can’t split the race and will have to deal with it then so they may as well get used to it in quali too

      1. Don’t worry Steph, we still have politics to disagree on. ;)

        The odd/even split is not something I would favour, but it would certainly be preferable to dividing the field due to performance or whatever. I still feel that negotiating traffic is part and parcel of qualifying – we don’t want to have to go back to that single-lap nonsense we were stuck with in the early 2000s.

    2. your talk reminds me about an certain bbc f1 commmetator find your own words and opinion

    3. That’s actually a very interesting idea – the faster guys would still have to deal with the slower guys but with more space to do so.

  3. Keith, I agree 100% with your arguments against splitting qualifying. Summed it up nicely.

    1. Indeed, same here !

      1. I think he’s manipulating the vote clearly siding with “against”. Despite that, I agree too.

        1. You are aware that this is a blog site and so Keith is free to express his opinion??

        2. I’ve put the case for as well as against.

  4. I’m 100% against it. What’s next? The FIA deciding when teams have to go on to wets if it rains just to make sure the big teams don’t get caught out… Actually, why do they just start in order of how many points they already have so the big teams will always be at the front. No? No.

    Stupid, stupid idea.

    It’d take a lot to put me off F1 and the FIA have tried really hard to make that happen so far without success but this may be one step too far for me.

    1. Although apparently all this has come from is a flippant comment from Bruno Senna. To be fair to F1.

  5. The main problem with for is that the track gets quicker the whole time. It’ll be unfair for those in the later session.

    I would suggest a return to a one hour session for this weekend only – perhaps with all cars having to make a run once every 15 mins and allowing them 12-16 laps in total or something like that!

    I think the main problem nowadays is that F1 is so commercial that every point (which may as well = qualifying position in monaco) is worth so much money that its unfair for a top team to be blocked by a slower team. it may be great for the fans but its not so great for those trying to make money!

    1. If they were dead keen on doing something different I’d be happy with a return to a one hour session for Monaco. Don’t worry about making them run once every 15 mins – if they want to risk leaving to the end without one in the bank that’s their own problem

  6. If they had a field of 30+ cars, it might be worth considering splitting Q1 up in two “heats” but with 24 cars that is just back to a few years ago.
    Just concentrate on getting the perfect timing of the lap and your king. That is a very good thing to see in a driver, Vettel did it several times, Schumi used to know about it and Senna was expert, so no let them cope with traffic.

  7. I voted no, but I feel for the guys in slower cars, one of them is bound to get blasted for not moving over.

  8. It’s surely just a component of Grand Prix racing? What I really don’t understand is why it’s the drivers in the slower cars making this argument. Trulli’s Lotus could find itself in Q2 if his immediate rivals hit traffic and he gets a clean lap.

    The drivers have just got to get on with it!

    1. Jarred Walmsley
      8th May 2010, 21:05

      I think it’s because they don’t want to be blasted by the faster drivers for not moving over like George said above.

  9. No. No. No. No!

    I have no idea why they are even talking about this. It’s racing GET ON WITH IT!

  10. Definately not, all cars should have access to the track at the same time for the same period of time.

    We all know how quickly the track conditions can change and how much that can affect the cars performance. It needs to be a level playing field and the only way of doing that is by having all the cars in the same sessions.

  11. It will only matter in first part of the qualifying and they have 20 minutes to get the fast enough lap not to get stuck in slowest 7. What is next? Race will be split in 2 tiers because of the traffic?

  12. With this very tendentious text, it’s quite easy to predict the outcome of this poll. Not that it changes a thing, ’cause, if drivers are hardly listened to in F1, never mind the fans.
    But my opinion is pro, for Monaco, that is.
    The argument about GP2 is rather irrelevant, as GP2 cars are quite slower than F1 and a bit more equal, so their facing traffic is more up to the time you go to the track.
    Monaco is short and narrow. It’d be dangerous (safety first, innit?).
    Also, I think the idea of separating odd and even numbers would be great. One drivers per team each time. Then divide Q1 in 10 min + 10 min, and so on with Q2 and Q3.
    We’ll have to wait and see. xx

    1. Jarred Walmsley
      8th May 2010, 21:06

      Q3 does not need to be split as in total theres less cars on the grid then there would be in a Q1 split

  13. No,no,no – if these are the qualy rules they want, then the FIA and temas have to live with the consequences….rules are rules.

  14. Why dont they just get on with it and stop trying to over-sanitise everything?

  15. I don’t think the problem is too many cars, the problem is the huge gap between the front-runners and the back-markers. The back-markers won’t even get a lap in, they’ll just be letting everyone through.

  16. samakafuzzy
    8th May 2010, 13:34

    You cannot really compare GP2 cars and the differences between them in pace, compared to the differences between Red Bull and HRT in Formula 1. It’s much more dangerous if the car in front has rubbish downforce, on one of the tightest tracks in the world, and there’s another 22 cars out there as well! Personally, I think they should split it, 2 Q1 Sessions, 15 minutes long, slowest 8 overall go out, then 6 out in the Q2, and top 10 in Q3. I would split it by odd numbered cars in the team, so 1,3,5,7,9,11,15,17,19,21,23,25


    1. samakafuzzy
      8th May 2010, 13:37

      I only want this though as I want a new team in Q2 on merit, and the extra rubber in the second Q1 session may help launch them into it!

  17. No, no, no! What we need is to make qualifying LESS efficient, not more so.

  18. Perhaps extending Q1 from 20 min to 30 – 40 min would somewhat reduce the problem with traffic. At least it would be fair to everyone.

  19. I’m against special favours, i.e. a split qualifying for Monaco. There is a high probability that at least some drivers will, at some point, get stuck behind someone else on a fast lap, but those conditions are the same for everyone, and professionals at the highest levels of motor racing can be expected to deal with that.

  20. The problem at Monaco is there is only space on the track for 1 car. Even the 3 new teams put in a quali lap and need to be looking forward and not behind them. In a race they get out of the way. Off line is only half a car wide on most of the track. The bottom six could go for it alone and let the rest get on with it. I don’t agree with splitting quali but when one of the top 8 drivers and more to the point “your guy or team” lose out the argument changes. A driver can get past someone in a race but to try and do it in quali when there is no track to pass on is to compromise your grid position.

  21. Absolutely no split. Deal with it!

    May as well go back to the ridiculous 1 car at a time format otherwise…

  22. It’s time for the new teams to show their colours. Are they professional enough? Are they welcome? Or are they simply Formula 1b?

    Sure they’re slower, but it’s not all about speed, lets see how the new teams do in a packed session. Maybe it will be some of the front runners who muck up.

    Also, Q1 will be the first test of what lap 1 will be like, it’s better for safety to run them all in qualifying.

  23. I vaguely seem to remember the pace of the Super Aguris being a similar concern when we approached their first Monaco Grand Prix, in 2006, as they were a long way off the pace of the front-running cars at that time. As it happened the only major traffic problem occurred when some lunatic parked his car on the track.

  24. Clearly the answer to this pole is “No”.

    As many have said, the main problem is that the track changes and in general gets quicker as function of the number of tyres that effectively hit it. So provided that the weather conditions stay the same, the first group of 12 will always be disadvantaged.

    The qualifying should not be split. But what could be done instead is to force all the cars out at start of each qualifying session. This may help improve the track conditions sooner and reduce the chance of everyone rushing out in the last minute.

    Otherwise, nothing else can be done.

  25. No, definitely shouldn’t split qualifying. But, if Vettel gets held up and knocked out then I will be ranting about it, lol.

  26. What a bunch of wowsers. The drivers who complained should be given their own separate qualifying session. They would all start the race behind the ones who didn’t moan. Before the session, the crowd would be issued with rotten fruit to throw at them.

    1. The one who asked for the split qualifying was Bruno Senna, it was not one of the fancied drivers.

  27. I don’t want tem to but if they did,

    Round 1 has the odd number cars,
    Round 2 is made up from even number cars.

    Top 6 from each go to elite quali for a top 12 shootout
    Bottom 6 from each go to lesser quali to figure out back of grid.

  28. MouseNightshirt
    8th May 2010, 16:23

    No – what happens if it rains in the second of the two sessions?

  29. I voted yes. Reasoning being that this is an unusual year with at least six slow cars. These slow cars if on their attempt at a fast lap have no reason at all to pull over if caught by one of the faster drivers and there are very few passing places.

    If one of the fastest cars is behind one of the slowest cars there will probably need to be an 8 second gap between them so that they do not meet. Not going to happen.

    I would not expect a split qualifying session next year.

  30. My understanding of the split, would be that a number of the top drivers would be given byes into quali 2.

    If the number of top drivers were to be six. Then 18 cars would take part in quali 1, with the usual 7 to drop out. And then the eleven remaining would be joined by the top six and quali 2 and quali 1 would continue as normal.

  31. I’m sticking by what I’ve been saying since this issue came up. Extend the first session and possibly the second session to 40 minutes and 30 minutes respectively.

  32. The problem only exists for Q1. So realisticly only one driver would suffer since the slower teams won’t make it through Q1 anyway.

  33. Consistency has always proved fair. They need to leave Monaco quali alone. F1 is a battle for first not a show of who can be fastest. There is strategy at every step and quali traffic is part of it. If you get caught out you get caught out.

    Your boss isn’t gonna care that you came in late due to traffic so why should F1.

  34. STRFerrari4Ever
    8th May 2010, 18:24

    No let them all qualify at once the positives are that with each lap the track will improve more and more so it could be a potential lottery in the sessions :D

  35. It just makes it more interesting too if some of the drivers in the better cars are crammed up at the back.

  36. theRoswellite
    8th May 2010, 19:25

    Qualifying at Monaco is a tradition, drivers have been fighting for a good time since the 50’s. The present drivers and teams need to take on the challenge!

    For me the other real issue, acknowledging that “tradition” might not carry a lot of weight with younger fans, is the possibility of a disparate playing field.

    If the field is divided in half, the second group should have the benefit of more rubber on the track.

    But, the greatest problem is precipitation. It will occur for one group and not the other, or the amount will differ. In any case if won’t be an equal playing field.

    For me, the real concern is safety. Are we creating a situation in which drivers take risks in their driving brought on by too many cars on the track, or too much of a speed differential between cars.

    That is a question the drivers might answer.

  37. No. One of the few reasons for keeping Monaco is the challenge it offers both for the race and qualifying. There’s always been a risk of cars getting caught out, whether we had 26, 24, or 20 cars.

    I’m not sure why Senna suggested this. He has little chance of making it out of Q1 on pace, so what’s his reasoning? Altruism? He’s in F1 to place as highly as possible, even if he was so generously-minded – and if anyone’s going to benefit anywhere, it’s going to be someone like Senna in the HRT at Monaco.

    Perhaps he’s worried about getting penalties for “blocking” other cars? But he’s at the back of the grid anyway!

    Why Senna called for this makes about as much sense as carrying it out!

  38. No.

    I refer you to this link:

    There were 26 cars in thi qualifying session too.

    Granted this was back when we had the two hour-long session format but still.

    The difference between the fastest and slowest cars in this session was NINE SECONDS.

    Don’t change qualifying.

    Leave it as it is please.

  39. Harry Plums
    8th May 2010, 21:31

    I dont want the FIA to make special provisions to ‘split’ the qualifying for Monaco, as this would only set presidence for further rule changes as the FIA see’s fit.

    Here’s why……

    The FIA allowed the new teams to join with absolutely no evidence that they would be fast enough to comptete. There is, currently, no rules stating what minimum speed you must carry in order to go racing. [at least none that I’m aware of]

    Unlike other motorsport events, in F1, once your team is approved to join F1 at the beginning of the season, your already ‘pre-qualified’ to go racing every Sunday regardless of your pace on any given weekend. The teams aren’t qualifying in the tradional sense of the sport – they’re merly setting the grid.

    Furthermore, with the limited testing, any idiot should have sussed during the off season that there would be the potential for new teams to struggle to keep pace, therefore causing slower cars to be a hinderance to the faster, established teams.

    This isnt, and should never become, NASCAR where cars take to the track one at a time and then set their fastes possible lap in a clear track. It’s setting your fastest lap under the prevailing conditons at the time, come rain, shine or, in this instance, traffic. Thats the ‘spirit’ of how F1’s qualifying is meant to be.

    With that said, I have no problems with the teams making a pact, similar to their mutual ban of KERS for 2010, whereas the slower teams agree to go out in Q1 for the first 7.5 minutes and then the remaining teams take to the track for the final 7.5 minutes.

    Although similar to a ‘split session’, at least this would keep the FIA from making more unnecessary rule changes to F1.

    1. Harry Plums
      8th May 2010, 21:39

      I failed to state that the only reason I have no problem with the teams making a pact to spilt up, is ONLY due to safety.

      As much as I dont want a split session, I would consider it, only, under a valid and proven concern for safety.

  40. Just imagine this as Monaco in real life with traffic, just at 130 mph. Be a right lottery of a race cant wait.

  41. Absolutely not. The whole idea is a joke.

  42. Totally against the split! IF, and I capitalize IF!, they split it in the end, they should have one car of each team in each heat, so that they get still some taste of traffic! But definitly NO TO SPLIT QUALI! Drivers: live is tough! Deal with it!

  43. this is a popular thread so this may have already been said, and i havent really got time to read through it all right now to check it hasn’t so sorry if i’m repeating someone elses point. BUT……

    If you split the quali 1 in half, odd-even slow-fast or whatever, what happenes if the first set to go out go out on a dry track, and the second set have to do it in the rain? Its a stupid idea and i think its just bruno senna trying to seem “safety minded” like his uncle… only diference was ayrton senna was fast too.

  44. Jonesracing82
    9th May 2010, 1:41

    no way! if they cant find a clear lap in 20mins then thats thier problem, q1 is rather basic with the new cars making up the bottom 6 and 1 established team car dropping out! so it doesnt need to be changed.
    further goes to show how team want to win more than providing entertainment

  45. No way what so ever??
    It won’t be F1 if that happens. I do want to see the top drivers finding their way out of the traffic for the pole position. & if they sent 12 cars along then the first batch will have trouble doing a good lap as then track will be green.

  46. The Dutch Bear
    9th May 2010, 8:36

    NO! NO! NO!

    Message to the drivers:
    Traffic is a part of racing!

  47. Pretty bad argument saying other junior series must drive in the same situation in Monaco… The name tells everything… its a serie… so there is no such thing as car speed difference of 10 seconds per lap in a series (GP2, etc.)!!!

    1. There may be less variation in the performance of the cars but I think we can all agree F1 drivers are on the whole much more experienced and better equipped to cope.


  49. I voted yes – but split so that just the 6 new cars are seperate from everyone else. next week we are going to get a lot of arguments, and yes it has always been part of qualifying to predict traffic, but the pace of the new teams is still embarrassing and i’d be willing to put money on a lotus/virgin/HRT ruining at least one front-running driver’s weekend, which is unacceptable.

  50. I voted no because I think that it would be making it too easy for the frontrunning drivers.

    However if the new teams are really worried about getting in the way during Q3 then they have a simple solution, go out at the very beginning of the session and set a time then stay in their garage for the rest of the session.

  51. Not at Monaco but give it a shot. In Monaco it makes sense to split the first session so everybody will say it was a good decision. But we need an objective research so lets try it at Turkish GP

    1. Wouldn’t that be a little late since the suggestion is specifically for Monaco???

  52. I would at least extend Q1 with 10 minutes. Things should stay fair and not unpredictable.

  53. Looks like some of the F1 team bosses are reading this blog as well.

    Horner quoted one of the team members saying this:
    “I think the most worrying aspect is Q1, it is just a matter of trying to get a lap that is sufficiently clear to post a time through Q1. Somebody unfortunately mentioned statistically that every 200 metres there will be a car if everyone runs and there is obviously a big difference in pace between the cars.”

    This sounds remarkebly like one of the arguments i read here about the dangers of traffic in Keiths article about more traffic a couple of weeks ago!


  54. Did there used to be a time when the FIA would create rules for Formula One and leave them be for a couple of years? Now, they’re constantly changing everything. It would be nice to let the teams and drivers adapt to the race conditions as the world’s best drivers should be able to!

  55. I was thinking about this again yesterday and if they HAD to split it, they could have 2 Q1 heats with the slowest 4 in each heat dropping out, then putting the survivors into Q2 & Q3 as normal. Put one car from each team into each heat.

    This would remove any issues about the weather, the track being more rubbered in for the 2nd group, etc.

  56. Hi, all is going sound here and ofcourse every one is sharing information, that’s really fine, keep up

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