Valtteri Bottas, Williams, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016

Elimination qualifying postponed until Spain at earliest

2016 F1 season

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The ‘elimination qualifying’ system announced by the FIA this week will not be introduced until the Spanish Grand Prix at the earliest, Bernie Ecclestone has admitted.

The existing qualifying format will remain in place for at least the first four rounds of the championship because Formula One Management will not be able to complete the necessary changes to its software in time. Qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix will take place in three weeks’ time.

“The new qualifying won’t happen because we can’t get everything done in time,” Ecclestone admitted to The Independent.

“It was going to come in at the start of the year but we are not going to be able to get all of the software done in time. So the qualifying changes will probably be in Spain. All of the software has got to be written so it’s not easy.”

Ecclestone had proposed an alternative ‘time ballast’ system which was rejected by team bosses.

“All I’m trying to do is muddle up the grid so that the guy that is quickest in qualifying doesn’t sit on pole and disappear because why should he be slow in the race if he is quick in qualifying?” Ecclestone added.

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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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73 comments on “Elimination qualifying postponed until Spain at earliest”

  1. I’m no software expert but I imagine if you gave me a million pounds I could get something made in the next few weeks.

    1. But this is Ecclectone…he might ask for a million pounds though to let you develop it :)

    2. you believing this software problem? all those that jumped to Bernie’s tune that this new format will be implemented from start of season were like him, putting the cart in front of the horse.

      1. Lewisham Milton
        27th February 2016, 12:51

        Nothing wrong with that – they’ve given the horse DRS.

      2. Yes, I do. And not only for the FOM, but also the teams. I have actually worked on timing systems for several of them. The problem is that the software must work in all situations. Red flag, disallowed laps, missing drivers. It’s definitely doable on the software I worked on ; but there wouldn’t be much spare capacity for any other work.

        Besides the fact that this new format is pointless, I do enjoy not having to worry about writing software for it.

        1. How long would you estimate for testing and bug fixes for a system like this?

        2. But couldn’t FOM temporarily hire more people to get the job done? A few sleepless nights, lots of coffee and I’m sure they could do it… ok with a couple of bugs here and there but it’s not the end of the world right?

          1. Of course they can. Just like it takes 9 women to get baby in one month :)

        3. Gerulf Dösinger (@)
          27th February 2016, 18:10

          @RFB If I give you a competent Hacker and a few grand, could you add some bugs every week or so? ;)

    3. Well they don’t need something, they need a want a complete bug free system, so its better this way, i’d say delay it until silverstone.

      1. I say delay it until forever ;)

        1. I’d delay it until the Nurburgring. @illusive, @brickles

          1. I could live with that @coldfly

    4. You’re right, you’re no software expert.
      Developing software is tricky, and while throwing manpower (not just money) at it will make it go by quicker, the different won’t be that big. The biggest part of developing software is testing it thoroughly enough, and all the communication that is required between the testers and the developers. It takes time.

    5. And it’ll be incomplete and bugridden. However, please know that this is not a judgement of your abilities, but an honest conclusion based on a decade’s professional software development experience; I’d do no better, and I write software for a living.

    6. If you gave me a million pounds I’m sure I could waste it for you in a few weeks.

      No. Software requires design, technology choices, potential personnel hires, workflow setup, deployment architecture, a lot of testing on every single build. Scenarios must be continually established to test all possibilities to make sure all aspects are covered. For F1, a failure would be front and Center and a huge embarrassment. It’s sensible to delay from a software point of view.

      When the software is built and delivered, it should be delivered properly with near zero risk of failure.

  2. Incredible that they didn’t recognize this from the very start, and announced it as such. Melbourne is only weeks away.

    1. This is normal F1 procedure, announce a new policy to achieve a desired outcome and then think about whether it will work, or whether it can actually be done.

  3. Haha and the joke continues! :)

    1. If by joke you mean nails in the coffin of F1.

  4. Think its a good thing delaying this system as team have already chosen their tyres based on the old rules and also you know when F1 is over complicating things when FOM can’t make a timing system to work with it

    1. …also you know when F1 is over complicating things when FOM can’t make a timing system to work with it

      They haven’t managed to make the Live Timing App work reliably since they launched it and that’s based on the same timing system in place for years!

  5. all these enforced on F1 changes by the commercial rights holder is all intended as some noise to his ever diminishing hold of power on F1. the teams voted for this qualifying format to avoid his revering of the grid system.

    1. If you think Bernie’s role or grip is diminishing you are clueless.

      1. His grip on reality has been missing for years. The man can’t even use a revolving door.

  6. “All I’m trying to do is muddle up the grid so that the guy that is quickest in qualifying doesn’t sit on pole and disappear because why should he be slow in the race if he is quick in qualifying”

    Why the hell would anyone want to sit on pole then, Bernie? Flawless logic.

    1. Every Qualifying system has flaws, and the one we now is no exception, but it is what it is. I don’t see a sufficiently big benefit in the new system that would justify the change.
      I think they should look at the biggest problem with the start, which is cars crashing into each other at the start or at the first two corners, and usually that entails cars that are towards the rear of the grid, and then work out a qualifying format that gets those cars in the right order for the start, and then leave the rest of the qualifying format as it is.
      Now that I think about it, the reason why we have a problem at the rear of the grid is too many cars too tightly packed trying to squeeze around a corner that was meant to be taken at high speed. So cars are accelerating, then they have to brake for the first corner, so, because of their speed, the drivers are wanting the racing line, but they are still two abreast, so they have to brake more than normal to get around the corner safely. No wonder there are crashes. One easy way to fix this would be to increase the space proportionally between the rows as they move back from the front row of the grid, so the cars near the front are at the regular spacing, while those at the back are further apart. This is because the cars at the back of the grid actually have extra distance compared to the cars at the front, in which to get up to a high speed, so the extra distance in spacing in front at the start would allow for the extra distance necessary for braking.
      So, there you have it, don’t change qualifying, change the starting places on the grid. Simple.

      1. Alternatively you could hire skilled drivers.

      2. Yes there are accidents at the start, but if you space the cars at the back farther apart all you will achieve is having them arrive at the first turn cluster at a greater speed. Racing drivers know that the more aggressive you are at the start the more likely you are to end your race in the first few corners. Drivers are not drones. Risk and an element of chance at the start of F1 races are part of the DNA of the sport.

  7. All I’m trying to do is muddle up the grid so that the guy that is quickest in qualifying doesn’t sit on pole and disappear

    Bernie Ecclestone

    To think that only 2 years of MeredesAMGF1 performing astonishingly better than fellow F1 rivals, especially such F1 darlings as Ferrari and Redbull, has led to incessant criticism from Bernie and calls of changes to the rules from fans is simply astonishing. It has not been four years (2010 -2014 for Redbull) yet or 5 years (2000 – 2005 for Ferrari), it has only been two championships.

    Did they not say there are new rules coming up to shake up the sport in 2017? Why not wait till then? No one knows exactly how the championship this way will swing. But even if Mercedes wins, have they not worked hard enough for it and so merit the victories and success?

    Where is the motivation for auto manufacturers to be involved in the Formula One series and to aspire to be the best the sport has ever seen in auto tech if the goal post has to be shifted in the middle of the game in the hope that they would be handicapped?

    1. Correction:

      No one knows exactly how the championship this year will swing

    2. There’s a big difference. In the Ferrari or Red Bull eras, there was nothing preventing rival teams from implementing the same or similarly-effective solutions in their own cars, except their competence and ability to raise funds.

      In the Mercedes era, no amount of hard work will catch you up because the rules are far too restrictive, and essentially don’t allow proper development / testing / implementation of your response to Merc’s dominance. Catching up is as near as makes no difference a physical impossibility, even for the best-funded and most talent-packed teams on the grid.

      We already know which team (and most likely, which driver) has won the 2016 championship before a single lap has been turned. That’s just wrong.

      1. So what we need is scripted races where everybody gets to win a race but the handsome blue eyed blond driver wins the championship.

    3. Where is the motivation for auto manufacturers to be involved in the Formula One series and to aspire to be the best the sport has ever seen in auto tech if the goal post has to be shifted in the middle of the game in the hope that they would be handicapped?

      Bernie hates the manufacturers. They compromise his control of the sport and just get in the way of him selling engines built by Flav or Cosworth to people at their expense.

  8. Heaven forbid we should have a little consistency, eh? And just when Channel 4’s adverts had started to make me forget all the politics and get a bit excited.
    How does this project the sport to any new or unfamiliar audiences – you know, the people who F1 needs to attract? ‘We’re changing the most entertaining aspect of the whole show – we can’t explain it that well, we can’t get it to work properly, and we won’t start it until midway through the season.’

  9. What a mess! Leave it alone for the whole season now, don’t go screwing about with the race format 4 rounds into the season, that’s crazy talk!

  10. I’ve got a better idea: an Elimination Strategy Group.

    1. Or maybe a Strategy elimination group, or even a Group elimination strategy.

  11. Yeah! As I pointed out in the other post, there was not enough time for a proper SW development. You can burn tons of cash, but that won’t make the SW running properly if it is not tested, simulated… and the window was very very narrow for me.

    1. Then why even mention it until it is thought through? I have said it before, I would not let the fia WASH my car let alone make up rules to govern a sport.

      1. This is all on FOM – Bernie threatened a stupid anti-competitive idea (ballast and reverse grids), so the teams, the FIA and the other members of the F1 Comission voted for something else, which he went along with, forgetting that his guys were the ones who had to make it work on TV.

        1. I have already pointed out what you just said, but most on here all they seems to do is keeps “cooing” about this and that and in the process bypasses the instigator of all these problems being pushed onto F1, or putting it the other way round, pushing F1 into this mess.

  12. “Looking like amateurs”

  13. I’m not surprised this can’t be implemented in time. You know when there’s a red flag during practice or qualifying and some drivers get lap times of 16 minutes or something? That bug has been there for years now, and it still hasn’t been fixed. All that needs to be done to fix this is still record the lap times when there’s a red flag but not show them on the screen. That’s literally it.

    So there are basically three options: FOM’s software engineers are all incompetent, the software is too complicated to fix a simple bug, or no one feels responsible enough for the software to fix it. I think the latter is the most likely answer.

  14. That’s it. Enough.

    Bernie Ecclestone
    [ ] Can stay
    [x] Must leave for the good of the sport.

    1. much overdue my friend.

  15. why mix the grid up? if merc are fastest they should be on pole. If he wants mixed grids don’t do qualy just draw it from a hat (please don’t give him that idea…)

    mercs starting 5th doesn’t suddenly make it exciting as DRS makes passing so easy they will be leading in 4 laps. Thats the problem there is no racing as you cannot defend anymore, it therefore is as boring as it was with no overtaking

    1. But Bernie’s making the cars wider in 2017 to counteract the ease of overtaking with DRS! No doubt they’ll keep making them wider until there is no overtaking with DRS.

      On a serious note, was’nt the reason for making the cars narrower a few years ago? Now they want more overtaking so they are making the cars wider. How does that work?

  16. It surprises mFor hat it would even be legal to change the format mid season, except for safety reasons. Had this been agreed to by the teams? I’m so out of touch with the governing system I forget how it works. FOM want something, the FiA agrees, the strategy group have a meeting, a team objects, Todt and Bernie push it through, the World Motorsport Council meet and disagree with everything. Or they issue a press release announcing the new rules and deal with it later. I can’t follow it.

  17. Typical F1, change the rules and format mid-season.

    No wonder you’re not attracting new people to the sport, its hard enough to follow for the people who already follow it.

  18. It’s not very surprising. They did the same thing when we went to the new points system. It had to be pointed out to them that by moving to 25-20-15 for the top 3, they were keeping the same points gap as before. It took them a few days to switch it to 25-18-15

  19. Give me top 10 shootout for Q3.

    One thing I don’t like about the current qualifying format is that it cuts to occasional shots of cars for less than 20 seconds, before cutting to a shot looking through the haze at a car driving down a straight directly at the camera. Then we get the commentators say “oh, looks like someones on a quick lap, they’ve gone purple in the first sector.” You end up not seeing a whole lot of action, and you can’t really follow along until the timer hits zero and everyone is definitely on their final lap.

    Why not take the finishing positions from Q2 and make them go out in order from 10th to 1st? Warm-up and cool down laps must be done within a certain delta (the technology is there for VSC), and the next driver leaves the pit lane as the first driver passes pit exit. That way, you’d get to see every driver in the top ten complete a one-shot qualifying lap in full, a short reprieve (allows a few replays, a radio message to be broadcast) before the next guy does his, and so on. Hopefully, because the quick guys are last to go out, every new driver improves on the last guy and provisional pole time drops through the session. Driver errors are severely punished and for the whole world to see, and no more traffic.

    Weather could shake up the grid as faster drivers may have been affected by a change in conditions, but not as severe as a complete grid reversal.

    It would mean the return of the banzai lap, viewers will be able to see the drivers on the limit for the whole lap.

    1. We tried that system, or much like it. It was awful. The fans near-universally hated it because it was dull as dishwater, and it was also completely and utterly unsporting when somebody’s qualifying was wrecked by an external environmental factor they had to face (but their rivals didn’t) through no fault of their own.

      That qualifying system was by far the worst thing to happen to F1 other than the new engine formula coming in without the testing / development / homologation rules being freed up.

    2. I agree current qualifying is often pretty underwhelming to watch for the reasons you suggest. The worst ones just have one lazy shot of all the cars coming round the last corner and across the line. Bernie (and Niki Lauda) are often spotted spectating at skiing events. You’d think they’d want to use some of the one-shot drama of that sport (and more of the timing features, like entry & exit speed and split times through one corner, not just a whole sector that can be half a lap)

      Yes, the single-lap qualifying was tedious with all 22 of them (and vulnerable to rain or the wrong kind of wind or “track evolution”) and 10’s probably too many. But I think it would work for the top 8, or top 5 with two runs each. Sort out the rest of the grid with knockout or elimination (or both! One system in Q1, the other in Q2…) If the tyres are too sensitive to deal with a small temperature change during the session, Pirelli (or, even better, Michelin) could make some that can deal with it.

  20. In years of religiously following F1, I have yet to experience a week as degrading on my enthusiasm as this week. Even during the darkest years of FIA sponsored Schumacher domination, there was at least the V10 orchestra to justify your continued allegiance. But this week, the promise of a virtually unchanged competitive order in 2016 and the executive amateur hour at the top of the sport probably sets a new standard of inauspicious opening weeks of a new season.

    The qualifying charade, and the amusing way in which it will demonstrably have no effect whatsoever on the operations of the top teams, isn’t even the worst headline of the week. No, it was this quote from Christian Horner:

    It is a great opportunity to do something fantastic for the fans. We should do it properly.

    Excellent Christian, then abandon your euphemistic attempt to reinstate Red Bull’s aerodynamic supremacy and propose what the fans actually want – wheel-to-wheel racing and democratized performance, something that can only be achieved but cutting the aerodynamic downforce that teams spend tens of millions on, and increasing the mechanical grip of the car.

    What is concerning is not that Red Bull care more about their competitiveness than the fans of the sport, but that the FIA cannot differentiate between genuine proposals for a better sport and overt self-interest, and indeed rank the teams’ grievances over those of the fans.

    1. This is a great comment.

      1. Ferrari may not be that far of Mercedes. If anybody can challenge them it is Vettel. My dream is Alonso replacing Kimi. I think we should give it 3 or 4 races to see how it pans out.

    2. @william-brierty, I won’t repeat here what I said after day 4 of testing, but on track I think it can be a very exciting season.

      BE’s comments will always be ridiculous!

  21. I’m quite looking forward to my favorite kind of rule changes: mid-season rule changes.

    Hopefully we can get some Safety Car changes in as well in time for Canada, perhaps ditch FP1 by the time the teams are headed for the flyaway races after going to Monza for the last time?

  22. I’m quite neutral about this rule, there is potential to add to the drama of qualifying. In my opinion, it probably won’t change much – but it could add some excitement to Q1 and Q2, perhaps at a detriment to Q3. However, I am not a fan of introducing anything mid-season. It either needs to start at the beginning of this season or next.

  23. So what’s next? They write all the needed software, as well as the teams update their own timing software to know when to release the cars and when to pit them, and when FOM discovers TV audience keeps falling, they take another knee-jerk reaction and revert to 2015 qualifying format after wasting money and ruining quali for, let’s say, 4 races? Even if they go for it in Canada and return to the “normal” quali around Spa, some damaged might have already be done, especially for small teams. So everyone will be analyzing the absurd consequences of it. As when in 2014 we calculated how the WDC standings would have been different without the double points farce.
    FOM (BE’s) decisions start to remind me to “Death Race”, so if they see Lewis winning 4 races in a row, the board decides to change it all upside down to create “more excitement”, “the TV ratings start to rise!!!”, “Money is coming” and all that BS that ruins F1 as a sport and it’s definitely turning it into WWE, maybe even to the point of no-return.

  24. Hopefully it will be postponed indefinitely.

  25. Lol,… This just shows overall F1 rule performance…

    Come up with overcomplicated rules that miss the intended mark.

    Then delay because implementing is to hard.

    Reminds me of EU, continual search for solution, then nothing is done. Terrible.

    I anticipate now massive fail on 2017 regulations.

    1. Make no mistake, I am criticizing decission making procedure. Rule is lets say decent.

      But process is all broken. Some old honcho decides, some idea and throws it to the team lions.

      Where is science, where is proper decission making, where is common sense. Sport is worth several Billion per year. Why can they not invest in to a proper overtaking strategy group, marketing department and sucession plan.

  26. The problem in F1 is that since 2011 the seasons have been somewhat predictable. Everyone wants a more exciting competition – the drivers, the teams, the sponsors, the fans, the circuit owners… I’m usually a critic of Bernie, but unfortunately he’s right here. These changes to qualifying will not change the sport’s predictability. It’s easy to “muddle up the grid” – draw the grid placings from a hat. Not very exciting though, is it? Want change in F1 and make it more exciting? Look hard at the regs and start by getting rid of DRS!

    1. Well yes @danieljaksa Bernie has just noticed that if you line the cars up in speed order for the start, that tends to be the order they finish in too.

      So we need a basis for the start order that is kinda on merit, but not race speed order.

  27. So did teams guess the software couldn’t be written in time, when they persuaded born-before-semiconductors Bernie to drop his reverse grids in exchange?

    The idea is worth a smile, anyway :)

  28. Maybe the way to “muddle up the grid” is to do away with all the qualifying rules all together. I remember the days when there were qualifying tyres and even engines. Quite often, the car that was capable of going quickest in qualifying was not the quickest over a race distance. I wouldn’t (and they won’t) go as far as special qualifying tyres or engines, but why not let them qualify on the softest tyre and then start on whichever tyre they want? And more so, why not let them tune the car for an ultimate lap instead of putting the cars right into parc ferme? If you qualify in race trim and tyres, then the race order is going to be much more set at the start, just as Bernie dosn’t want.

  29. Several of the teams were saying during the first test that FOM will struggle to get everything done in time. As a former software developer I can completely understand this and it’s right to delay it.

    I just wish they’d throw out the idea entirely! Bernie said “All I’m trying to do is muddle up the grid so that the guy that is quickest in qualifying doesn’t sit on pole”. Says it all, F1 is a sport, not a Saturday night game show on ITV!

    Could you imagine if in football the team at the top of the league had to start matches a goal down? Just to “improve the show”?

    F1 isn’t perfect but this kind of stupid short-sighted muddling is not going to gain new fans and crucially pushes away the hardcore fans.

  30. The ET game was developed in five weeks and we know how that all turned out.

  31. Just leave F1 alone! they look like a joke!
    At least work it out this year and start fresh 2017

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