Domenicali wants qualifying rules change

2011 Japanese Grand Prix

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Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali says the qualifying rules should be changed to stop drivers aborting flying laps.

Four of the ten drivers in the final part of qualifying at Suzuka did not set times. Three drivers did the same in Singapore.

Domenicali said: “Once again today, as has happened before during this season, we have seen cars – no less than four in Q3 – give up on doing a flying lap.

“Far be it for me to criticise those who made this choice, which is absolutely respectable from a technical point of view, I think it shows something is not right in the way qualifying is run and we should give it some careful thought for the future, because I don’t think it’s such a good thing for the spectators in the grandstand, who, I must say here are amazing in the way they make you feel their passion for Formula 1 and for those who are watching on television.”

Renault chief race engineer Alan Permane explained why neither of their drivers did a run in qualifying:

“We decided that in a straight fight in Q3 we would have struggled to make much more ground on our positions in the top ten – it would have been difficult to beat [Michael] Schumacher anyway – so we decided to put both cars out on [scrubbed] medium tyres to ensure we had the luxury of choosing our starting tyre tomorrow afternoon.”

2011 Japanese Grand Prix

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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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74 comments on “Domenicali wants qualifying rules change”

  1. “Far be it for me to criticise those who made this choice, which is absolutely respectable from a technical point of view, I think it shows something is not right in the way qualifying is run and we should give it some careful thought for the future, because I don’t think it’s such a good thing for the spectators in the grandstand, who, I must say here are amazing in the way they make you feel their passion for Formula 1 and for those who are watching on television.”

    Well said, Signore Domenicali.

    I think the Qualifying system we have right now is perfect. It provides us with action and drama while also being a fair system that rewards pure 1 lap pace. However, like Domenicali points out, when it makes more sense for teams to not run in Q3 because tyre wear is more important than grid position something is wrong.

    That’s why there needs to be a solution that encourages teams to run as fast as possible in Q3 and not make strategic decisions based on saving tyres. Would giving the Top 10 drivers an extra fresh set of both compounds to use as a reward for making Q3 work?

    1. Give everyone that makes it into q3 one extra set of options that can only be used in q3 and must be handed back.

      All 24 cars can then freely choose which tyre to start the race on, not just the bottom 14, and all in the top 10 will have no reason not to set at least one flying lap. They still have their ordinary allocation to dip into for banker laps.

      Means shipping an extra 40 tyres to every race, but as we saw in Belgium Pirelli unofficially bring dozens of spares anyway, so the expense is marginal, and the benefit to “the show” much greater.

      1. @goldleaf I agree with that, it’d be good and fair. Though something might have to be done about Q2 as well, in Barcelona we saw the Force Indias sitting out Q2.

      2. “Give everyone that makes it into q3 one extra set of options that can only be used in q3 and must be handed back” and “Means shipping an extra 40 tyres to every race” ??? I don’t think that all teams use the same wheels, so how on earth would Pirelli mount, balance and heat the 40 tyres for the Q3 qualifiers in five minutes?

        The only way to do this (which is perhaps not a bad idea) would be to let the ten Q3 qualifiers use their existing allocation – then give them an extra set for the race — and I’m sure other teams might have something to say …

      3. I agree entirely with everything you’ve said. The top 10 qualifying tyre rule is a failure anyway, so they could kill two birds with one stone by scrapping it.

    2. Wouldn’t that be a bit of an advantage for the race though?

      I think they should just give everyone a set of the option tyre for every part of qualifying. Despite having low-fuel qualifying people are still doing too much strategy. Qualifying should be about being the fastest over one lap only. Things like tyre saving shouldn’t matter.

      1. An extra set of options for each part of quali could cause problems… It would remove the strategic element that some of the slower teams have at their disposal re. prime vs. option tyres in order to get through Q1, and it may have a similar impact on Q2 to a lesser degree. I think it’s a great idea for Q3 however!

    3. Rather simple answer to simple problem.

      All drivers have to set a lap within atleast 107% of their time in the previous session. Stewards can allow special cases (e.g. if a driver crashes or spins or goes off track and hence isn’t capable of setting the time but shows intent to do so).

      PENALTY: Starting at the back of the grid

      Wihtin 5-8 seconds means a pretty fast lap. They wouldn’t be saving their tyres that much if they have to make sure they are within that timeframe.

      1. But how would you really police that? For example, let’s say today Sauber said that the car had a water-leak and Kob couldn’t go out, or perhaps the power steering wasn’t working on Petrov’s car for a short period, or something similar that the FIA couldn’t easily check during qualifying.

        I’m not sure I trust F1 teams as much as your rule would require!

    4. Just weird why not just make full use of the 10 minutes Q3 times?? Why must wait until last minutes, last 2 or 3 minutes to do flying lap?? I think should not blame the rules, but blame the teams for not full use of the 10 minutes time that has been given by FIA. Why must makes thing so complicated, Formula 1 is the most expensive sports in the world, so dont take “cost cutting” as a reason to ban refuelling during race. But i think refuel during race should be re-introduce, so that in qualifying teams will not waste 10 minutes time and able to do more laps.

    5. @Magnificent Geoffrey This is the second time I’ve agree completely with you in less than 10 minutes.

    6. Typical Ferrari, when team orders rules where not working for them they had them changed. And now that Ferrari are being forced to use there Option tyres just to get through Q2, they will have this rule changed as well. If they cared so much about the fans, then they wouldn’t have had the team orders rule removed.

      1. Ferrari didn’t use the options to get through, and the two issues you are talking about are not related.

        @TED BELL I think penalties are the wrong way to go. I think it would be better to provide an incentive. With your solution Koby for example would just need to set a very slow time this weekend to achieve the same end of saving tyres. However that slow time would avoid the penalty. I also think it would be the wrong way to go to introduce yet more penalties.

        For example, my idea would be to provide the teams with several extra sets of tyres. 1 of each compound for the first session, an extra set of the softer compound for whoever makes it to Q2. And yet another softer set for whoever gets into the last session.

        With these tyres taken away after qualifying and being the only ones allowed to be used during qualifying.

        However, this has a flaw in that Pirrelli won’t want to bring more tyres in total. The increase would be offset by the reduced need for the tyres not being used for qually. But I doubt they (Pirrelli) would be game.

        1. They may not have been forced to use there option tyres to go through Q2 in this particular qualifier, but it’s happened many times.
          And the only reason I mentioned team orders is because Ferrari are contradicting themselves. Fans were against team orders, but Ferrari didn’t care about that when they had them removed. Now they are bringing up this tyre issue because of the fans? LOL… it’s just their selfish interests….

    7. Again the Pirelli Tire BS continues….F1 needs to review this abnormal situation where teams think it is more important to skip qualifying in pursuit of keeping a set of tires for Sunday. Has any team rrun out of tires on raceday??? Teams who choose to forgo qualifying should be penalized 10 grid posistions….

  2. I totally agree, the rules need to be revised. As a fan, qualifying is one of the most intense parts of the weekend and teams like Renault along with the others are taking all the enjoyment out the spectacle that is now the fastest part of the whole weekend.

  3. qualifying tyres anyone?
    there’s also issue same cars on a hot lap ruining each others time..

    1. Qualifying tires wouldn’t really help vettel would still get pole

      1. So you’d prefer the fastest driver not to get pole?

  4. I couldn’t agree more with Stefano and very nicely put too.

    1. Yes @Steph, I agree with him as well. I liked the days when drivers warmed their tyres zig-zagging, and put in fast laps in succession. Now drivers have to start their lap with 1 second left under pressure, and in the 10 minutes of Q3 everyone should do all the laps he can. Otherwise make a 3 minute session of one only lap. I want to see battles, and not qualifying wasted to favour the race.

      1. @Fixy I couldn’t agree more and very well said! :)

  5. should Ferrari find itself in a similar situation to Sauber, Domenicalli will probably say the opposite

    1. Or, considering Ferrari agreed to EBD’s rules U-turn which greatly affected their chances to be decently competitive for the rest of the season, probably not.

      1. Considering that Alonso for example would have lost only one position if he had done the same but he could have saved two sets of the soft tyres that way, you have to agree something is wrong. No matter what team principal says it.

  6. The rule suited previous years on the Bridgestone’s but I do think it should be dropped for next year if the Pirelli’s retain their current level of longevity. However, that is the benefit of hindsight. The tyres at the beginning of this season were a bit of an unknown quantity and while pre-season testing did suggest short life spans, it would have been foolish to have a knee-jerk reaction, considering that for the most part of this year qualifying has largely involved everyone, minus the odd driver.

    FOTA (and HRT!), the FIA and Pirelli need to sit down, with data gathered this year and discuss what’s going to happen with the tyres and their respective rules for 2012.

  7. I think it’s disrespectful to broadcasters, sponsors and fans alike. FOM can’t be happy either, this needs to be rectified for next season, obviousley nobody has cheated or looked to gain an unfair advantage it’s just an open loophole that needs closing.

    1. Given some of the excitement has already drained from the season – for some viewers, a lot – the spectacle of only half the drivers competing in the Q3 must be hugely counter-productive.

      The problem has been there lurking since near the start of the season. The solution seems so simple, as mentioned above: extra tyres for those in Q3 just for the qualifying. Ensures a proper competition for pole and doesn’t penalize drivers for being faster and making it to the last ten!

      Stefano was polite, but I really don’t understand how this wasn’t fixed earlier when FIA is happy to mess with other stuff mid season. Is this a tyre contact issue?

      1. I suspect a reluctance by Pirelli to produce `0 extra sets of sots would be one hurdle.

    2. The solution is simple, any driver not setting a time in any qualifying sessions starts from the back of the grid, no excuses, no exceptions.

  8. He’s right. Maybe those who didn’t even try to set time must be somehow penaliized. Money at first, then, if they do it again, more serious penalty like +5 places on the grid

    1. @baddyglass Nah, you can’t penalise them. What they’re doing is preserving tyres for the race. If they use all their grip up in qualifying on a set of tyres they will just end up becoming a liability on track and would be rather unsafe to drive. Of course, they could pit for tyres, but they would end up just on/exceeding the tyre limit.

      1. sure, i can’t penalize them, the point is that something should be changed. of course, the idea with qualifying tyres is the best at the moment, but it can be done only the next season

  9. Matt Pepprell
    8th October 2011, 9:54

    Drivers (and teams) who decide not to set a time in Q3 should have to use their tyres from the fastest time in Q2 thus negating the “we have to save our tyres” rubbish for the race

    Also, if they do not do a run in Q3 they forfeit a set of tyres as a result. This should prevent the drivers from saving their tyres and result in better Q3

    Make the penalty harsh and they will be compelled to do at least one timed lap

    — Matt

    1. I like this solution, it also means pirelli won’t have to bring any extra tires to the races, as some of the other guys above were suggesting.

    2. Drivers (and teams) who decide not to set a time in Q3 should have to use their tyres from the fastest time in Q2 thus negating the “we have to save our tyres” rubbish for the race


    3. But what’s then stopping you from just trundling around for a lap?

      1. Matt Pepprell
        8th October 2011, 23:26

        I would hope they get a penalty similar to the one mentioned. If it is obvious the driver is not attempting a competitive time then perhaps this is also unsporting behaviour, no?

        However, this aspect is a lot more difficult to judge

        — Matt

  10. Two words:

    Qualifying tyres.

    1. I was about the say the exact same thing. Great minds think alike (and fools never differ).

    2. I agree, but how many qualifying tyres? Does this really stop drivers from abandoning their flying laps again if they make a mistake and wish to conserve those tyres for another flying lap?

      The only answer I see, is to introduce qualifying tyres as you said, but also remove quantity restrictions altogether during qualifying (meaning allow as many new tyres to be used as required), but instead impose a “number of flying laps ” restriction for each qualifying session.

      Either-way i don’t think it is simple. I am sure there would be some other problems associated with that…

    3. @john-h Oh no, not that again! :P

      I really don’t like the idea. Creates too much of a disparity between the race and qualifying. I think the current rule needs scrapping for next season but we should have at least some consistency going into the race.

      1. I like the idea of quali tires, however give all teams one set of tires for all 3 sessions. They can choose which compound from the available compounds that weekend. Drivers do not need to start the race on the tires they qualified with, but perhaps they should start on the same compound?

        Just my random thoughts.

      2. Exactly. We already have problems with casual fans asking why they go so much slower in the race. Secondly, Is it really necessary? All it will do is increase the issue of having such a short time to make an optimum lap.

  11. Yes, its not the first time this matter comes up this year. Not sure what’s the best solution, and I am pretty sure if they sit down and talk it over they will find one that does not really feel good to me, but still they should and get this sorted for next year (and the years after that).

  12. i think they should add a rule saying that if Q3 lap is slower than Q2 lap or Q1 lap it will taken into consideration while deciding the grid. if anyone fails to do a lap he will start at the back of the feild, if anyone laps slower than HRT then he will start there even if he makes it to Q3.

  13. The simplest and most economical solution would be – 1 lap for each driver, they get to chose the compound and they’ll be forced to start the race with it . No need for qulifying tires, the amount of tires used would be minimal (and so would be the costs), no complaints about traffic, no penalties for blocking another driver on a hot lap, all fair and square. Plus the TV viewers would be able to see each driver’s lap.

    1. We had that sort of qualifying a few years ago and personally i found it pretty boring. I like the qauli set up they use at the moment, it builds up nicely. i think it possiblly needs a little tweaking here and there thats all

      1. Maybe they couldmkeep Q1 and Q2 as they are and have Q3 as a single lap shoot-out for the top 10, making it compulsory.

        1. Kyle (@hammerheadgb)
          8th October 2011, 13:01

          I like this idea. There don’t have to be any disputes about running order this way either, as it can be derived by reversing the top 10 in Q2.

    2. We had that last time in 2005 and it didn’t work. It was boring to watch and in case a driver finished low in the proceedings in one race he would get penalized for next race as well because he would have to start early and those who started later (top finishers from previous race) would have track with much more rubber. The current system is quite good – when teams decide to actually make a hot lap.

      1. Then they can just reverse the order in which drivers start the qualifying with top finishers from the previous race going first. I can’t see how it’s more boring than today’s format; at least it’s more fair.

        1. @Klaas the current system is generally quite good and all it needs is a little tweaking. This year it can get a little boring but last year when the teams were more evenly matched qualifying session were very thrilling.

          In case the reverse grid from last race system is implemented only die-hard fans would watch the whole qualifying. The others would just tune out after a while because let’s face it – fight between Virgin and HRT for 21st positions isn’t really that interesting.
          Besides, qualifying sessions back then were coma-inducing boring…

  14. Quali tires for all has to be the best solution. Pirelli have added to the sport this year and the rules suited the previous bridgestone construction. Even if everone started the race on a new set I can’t see a massive advantage for anyone. There has to be a change to ensure 10 cars take part in the top 10 shoot out.

  15. Well this is the first for me – I agree with Stefano Domenicali. They should really make a rule change that would discourage teams from not making a qualifying lap.
    Maybe an automatic relegation to bottom of previous qualifying session if the teams don’t set a time or a grid penalty.

    1. If the teams were penalised for not setting a time in Q3, they could just let their drivers go for an extermely slow tire-friendly lap and the result would be pretty much the same.

      1. True, teams always look for loopholes to gain advantage. Maybe, if they are forced to make a lap maybe they would decide to set a competitive lap time.

    2. Perhaps qualification times must be faster than the previous qualification session, or the driver faces a (lets say, a 1 second) time penalty, which could move them backward on the grid.

      Weather needs to be factored in, however, if this penalty is enforced regardless of weather, we could see some very interesting grid line ups, which would create some interesting race starts.

      On a different note, should longer lasting tyres be introduced to reduce the environmental impact?? Being able to overtake because you have newer tyres doesnt make you the best racer.

  16. Fans, please stop whining about it. This provides great action in the race. That is all that matters.

    You do not remember qualifying after Sunday. Please stop being short sighted and superficial.

    1. u r absolutely right,…. :)

  17. This seems to have everything to do with ‘tyre saving’ for the race, which gives the slower cars a bit of an ‘advantage’ over the faster cars; i.e they end up with a better choice of tryes at the start of the race so thats an adventage. It would be great if ‘ALL’ the teams were allocated the same number of tyres each for the start of the ‘race’ irrespective of the number or type of tyres they used during practice and qualifying. This way everyone would be on a level playing field. This way everyone would be encouraged to continue to run during qualifying instead of ‘opting out’ in Q3 for example.
    Just a thought!!!

  18. If the tires are this much of a problem then there does have to be a question of Pirelli and whether they have the right compounds for the track.
    That said I’m not sure we can blame Pirelli or the qualifying system for the wide range of car ability with such an obvious 3 tiers of performance which is the major reason that we don’t have as much fighting for places or variation in grid positions. It seems to be over-reliant on driver error, team misjudgement or mechanical failure to produce any surprises.
    I would hesitate to change the way qualifying is at the moment though until the mechanical rules have settled down, there are so many enforced changes in the cars next year and the following year which, in theory, should make things closer and more exciting.
    It gives Pirelli a chance to have learned from the data collected after this year in F1.
    As tempting as it is to change loads of things it makes it very difficult taking the sport forwards to know what changes will have what effect.
    Very difficult to get stability, innovation, excitement, fairness and simplicity. This year I’ve found it a little bit difficult to keep up with all the technology arguments DRS, EBD, KERS etc and start to wonder whether F1 should even be trying to be the pinnacle of every technology at the same time or whether it’s just getting too complicated and expensive for it too continue innovating all of them and know from the start of the season that the balance of rules, cars, teams and drivers are going to provide an exciting and interesting season of racing for the fans who seem to have been forgotten. Without fans being interested (not just the fanatics who are prepared to put all the time and effort in) the sport will start to decline.
    Sorry realise it’s all a bit rambly, wish I had the talent to write it better.

  19. would be interested to see your comments if Alonso or Vettel has a minor problem with their car and fail to set a time in q3….then, going by some comments, they would have to start from the back…..will u guys and Domenicalli accept it?

  20. I agree with Stefano, frankly it’s pathetic and insulting to the people who paid good money to then not see four cars go out for a qualifying lap.

    Forget giving them extra tyres as an incentive, the rules are fine as they are, no time set sends you to the back of the grid, sorted. The rules shouldn’t have to dance around the teams to get them to do what they’re already given TV money to do.

  21. I think a special type of qualifying tyre is needed to stop teams from not going out in a session. If you gave everyone a couple of sets of super sticky tyres that only last a full flying lap, you will see the drivers out almost the entire session trying to set the absolute fastest time, without worrying about not taking too much out of the tyres to be used in the race.

  22. Giving teams quali tyres doesn’t guarantee that teams will do more runs. Remember they have to manage fuel as well. Bring back the days of re-fuel and give quali tyres and we’ll be in for a great race weekend

    1. @dt

      Bring back the days of re-fuel

      This has nothing to do with the problem of drivers not setting times in qualifying. Qualifying fuel loads are not linked to race fuel loads (and nor should they be).

      Bringing in-race refuelling back would only serve to make racing more predictable as we saw the last time we had it in F1. It’s been thrown in the garbage, let’s leave it there.

  23. I don’t like qualifying tyre idea because it’s quite expensive solution, but given situation today, it would be much better than nothing. Is it coincident that Japan suggested tyre rule change again?(I mean, monsoon tyre last year)

  24. Maybe they could give the teams that made the cut to Q3 a set of brand new options and if they choose to run a flying lap on it they will be able to trade in another set of options of their own choice for the 4th set of options they used in Q3. They would therefore end up with as many tyres as the others, for the race, but they the extra lap in Q3 would be free, so there would be no reason not to.
    That would mean that a team that runs options in Q1 and Q2 can basically for free set a time in Q3 on a new set because that set would then go instead of one of the sets they used in Q1 or Q2.

    I think that would be a better solution then giving all the drivers a set more, because then they would just save that for the race as well and the situation would be the same, along with using more tyres over a weekend.

  25. If a driver doesn’t set a time in Q3, then the next fastest driver from Q2 should take his place.

    So if one driver in Q3 didn’t set a time, then the driver who finished 11th in Q2 would swap race grid positions.

    If two drivers didn’t set times in Q3, then 11th & 12th would start 9th & 10th respectively.

    So tomorrow’s race would start:
    7. Sutil (11th)
    8. Di Resta (12th)
    9. Barrichello (13th)
    10. Maldonado (14th)
    11. Schumacher (7th)
    12. Petrov (9th)
    13. Senna (8th)
    14. Kobayashi (10th)

    Note that Petrov & Senna are ordered by their Q2 times, not Q3 defaulted times.

  26. Its simple – for every qualifying session you are in, you MUST set a laptime. If you get through to Q2 or Q3 and dont set a time, you go to the back of the grid.

    I’d also like the times to be representative, so if someone gets through to Q3 but sets a fastest time that is slower than someone knocked out in Q2, they line up behind them on the grid. This would stop drivers doing a two minute lap to save their tyres.

    Getting rid of the silly two-compound rules might help too.

  27. I don’t think the problem can be solved by handing penalties to those teams/drivers, which refuse to drive in Q3 as some people have suggested in the comments. It’s hard or impossible to make sure that those drivers would make their best and wouldn’t just save their tyres. Neither do I think that some sort of extra set of tyres for Q3 would be a solution. It makes thinks too complex.

    In my opinion, there are five simple options:

    1) Keep the current rule. Sure, some teams will not drive in Q3, but does that really matter? It doesn’t really bother me, but the rule allows more options for strategy, which in my opinion makes F1 more interesting.

    2) Force everyone to start the race with the set of tyres that they used to make their fastest time in the last part of qualifying that they took part in. This would stop teams from not driving, because they want to have more options on Sunday. However, teams could still save their tyres.

    3) Let everyone decide on Sunday, which set of tyres they want to start with. However, teams could still save their tyres.

    4) Make qualifying positions matter more. Give the eight or nine best drivers some sort of advantage. For instance, let them use DRS one lap before others.

    5) Give teams separate sets of tyres for qualifying and race. All teams can decide on Sunday, which of their race sets they want to use.

  28. I don’t see anything wrong with it! It’s simply how people make use of the situation.

  29. If you get through to Q3 you must set a time or you go to the back of the grid.

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