When should F1 introduce ‘elimination qualifying’?

2016 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

Formula One chiefs have proposed a change to qualifying which would see drivers being knocked out every 90 seconds instead of all at once at the end of the session.

The plan could come into force this season but Formula One Management revealed yesterday it will not be ready until the fifth race at the earliest due to the time needed to rewrite its timekeeping software.

The World Motor Sport Council will vote next week on whether to introduce the new system. Should they give it go-ahead for this year, postpone it until next year, or scrap the idea entirely?

‘Introduce elimination qualifying as soon as possible’

The new knockout system will give drivers and teams less opportunity to relax during qualifying as they could go from being in a safe position to being under threat very quickly. Any driver who makes a mistake on an early run is likely to pay a high price.

‘Introduce elimination qualifying from the first race of 2017’

Elimination qualifying will add more intrigue to the race weekend however F1 should avoid the confusion of changing from one qualifying session to another during the season. Wait until next year before bringing it in.

‘Don’t introduce elimination qualifying’

Elimination qualifying is unlikely to make it harder for a dominant team such as Mercedes to keep taking pole position, will make little difference in Q1 and Q2 where the same drivers will drop out sooner, and spoil the spectacle of Q3 which will end with an almost empty track. The current system doesn’t need replacing and shouldn’t be.

I say

It’s becoming very tiresome to see F1 repeatedly produce complicated new pieces of legislation to overhaul areas of the competition which were not in need of change.

Elimination qualifying seems unlikely to inject much new excitement into Saturdays and may even prevent some of the shock eliminations we see under the current system.

The discovery two days after it was announced that the new rules cannot be introduced in time for the start of the season shows how little thought went into them to begin with. That is all the argument which is needed to reject the idea completely.

You say

When should F1 introduce ‘elimination qualifying’? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

When should F1 introduce 'elimination qualifying'?

  • No opinion (3%)
  • Don't introduce elimination qualifying (76%)
  • Introduce elimination qualifying from the first race of 2017 (9%)
  • Introduce elimination qualifying as soon as possible (12%)

Total Voters: 354

 Loading ...

An F1 Fanatic account is required in order to vote. If you do not have one, register an account here or read more about registering here. When this poll is closed the result will be displayed in stead of the voting form.

Debates and polls

Browse all debates and polls

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

84 comments on “When should F1 introduce ‘elimination qualifying’?”

  1. I think it will create some (artificial) tension in the first few rounds whenever it is implemented, however I don’t think it’s where the focus of anybody of F1 should be at. There are real problems that need real solutions too.

    1. The only upside I can see to it is this: A driver in Q3 who goes to set a fast lap but locks up, runs wide, encounters a slower car etc. Can come into the pits, put on a new set of options and go out again. Under this new format, there will be none of that. That being said, there was nothing wrong with the current format to begin with.

  2. It creates new problems, but the top teams will figure out where to be on track on what specific time so in the end, it doesn’t change the fact that fast cars are going fast, and McLaren isn’t.

  3. Stupid idea. The teams will soon get on top of it and all it will result is less cars on track during qualifying. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the current Quali rules.

    Typical of the knee jerk, short term, ill thought out rule changes that come from the F1 leadership.

    Even the 2017 aero rules that were supposed to the the big long term plan are going to end up being a last minute bodge (that do not consider the impact on overtaking) as they can’t agree anything beyond the date & location of the next talking shop.

    1. Very true……we are watching a circus run by the Clowns!!!!

    2. Agree 100%.

    3. Agreed. I think F1 will destroy itself before the powers that be get it together.

    4. Well said

  4. I vote for start from 2017, however that’s not what I really have in mind.

    What I want to really say is introduce it at the start of the season, any season. A competition shouldn’t have any changes within an ongoing season unless it was critical and/or for safety reason. So with that reasoning, I’m also OK if it implemented this year as long as it’s from Australia.

    Elimination qualifying is unlikely to make it harder for a dominant team such as Mercedes to keep taking pole position, will make little difference in Q1 and Q2 where the same drivers will drop out sooner, and spoil the spectacle of Q3 which will end with an almost empty track.

    Also, there’s a big problem with that reasoning with using Mercedes as an example which is probably having the biggest margin of dominance ever in F1. I say if we going to judge how effective it is, assuming we have it this year and Mercedes still at front and enjoying at least the same gap as last year, by removing them from the equation and see how the results for the rest of the field turns out.

    1. Also, for people who think current rules is fine, it is. But, think this as a chance for trying something new, hopefully an improvement, not as a fix to some imaginary problem. Nothing wrong with front engine, tubular chassis, skinny tires F1 in 50’s but we won’t get 2000’s era beautiful (and some ugly cars – hello walrus and dumbo wing Williams) cars if people stick to “don’t fix what is working” attitude.

      1. I voted the same for the same reason; although I don’t really see the point in making any change to qualifying, any change needs to occur in the off-season and be ready for the first race. And despite thinking the change is a bit pointless, I’m not against it. It will change the spectacle of qualifying (one of the most exciting parts of the weekend is when the clock hits zero at the end of Q3, second only to the start of the race) but I think most of the excitement will simply be moved to the start of the session rather than be lost entirely

        1. Actually Q3 will lose most of it’s excitement. As cars are eliminated minute (and a half) by minute, there’s no build up of tension, and therefore only anti-climax to look forward to.

          As Lopek said above, “Typical of the knee jerk, short term, ill thought out rule changes that come from the F1 leadership.”

    2. I vote for it to start 1st thing in 2281 when I will be dead and my bones will be dust.

      1. 2081 probably enough for that ;)

        1. You don’t know that. What if he eats healthy, doesn’t smoke or drink, drives a Mercedes S-class and comes from a family of no hereditary diseases? And he may even be bullet proof. :P

    1. Agreed, more gimmicks.

  5. I’m all against an elimination style qualifying system.

    It might be fun in video games, but not good for an international pro series as Formula 1. It’s feels like yet another gimmick following the likes of DRS and design-to-degrade tyres.
    Plus, the amateurish way to announce a mesure just to discover, days later, they can’t put it in place because of time. Again, they had plenty of time to work during the off-season.

  6. Introduce elimination qualifying as soon as possible. I basically agree with a lot of counterarguments but let us give it a chance. It is fair (the fastest guy wins and starts from the front) and it is something new so it will be exciting at least for a few races. If it turns out to be boring, then scrap it at the end of the season and implement something better or simply go back to the old system.

    1. I get all the talking about introducing this in the hope of getting mixed grid etc @girts. But I really think that we could see a far closer field with more cars in the mix already and it would be a shame to see that ruined by a hastily brought up idea to counter an even more horrible idea from Bernie (the championship standings time “balast” thing).

      I also think that with this being Bernie who mentions it, he is playing one of his games again (i.e. telling the teams that he is still the one running the show and they better listen, in other words, he deliberately does not have the sw ready for this)

  7. Don’t we already have “elimination qualifying” being that whoever does not set an expected time within a stipulated period of time is eliminated?
    So I say the new format should never be introduced. Wait until 2017 for a raft of new rules to kick in.

  8. Although the new system may spice things up, I think that the current qualifying system is ok. I also liked the old system that was used until 2005.However, there are other areas that need to be improved and the qualifying system is not one of them.

  9. Voted as soon as possible.

    The new system will not make qualifying any better, but hopefully it will have a positive effect on the race. It’s a less extreme alternative than reversed grids, which I think would be a step to far.

  10. Introduce it as soon as possible with reverse grids and elimination style races! The last car on every lap gets eliminated, so the races last only 22 laps. There is also one compulsory two-minute pitstop at the middle of the race for ad breaks.

    1. Mr. E please stop posting on this forum with fake accounts.

    2. You forgot the sprinklers!

  11. It hasn’t been shown in action so hard to say what effect it would have. As the race day is when more casual watchers tune in, it’s unlikely to boost viewing figures.

    For myself, ATM I want to know what’s going on with pre-testing, hear some tech expert/driver/principal interviews, but all I’ve got are public opinions from websites and a few clips from YouTube. Come on Bernie – if you want us to view it you’ve got to make it possible for us to SEE it. I’m not paying £30 a month more for a couple of hours viewing Sky.

  12. I’d like to see it ASAP!

    I think it sounds like a great concept. Buxton wrote an article demonstrating the positives of the idea.

    I think we’re so used to criticising anything new in F1, that it’s a knee jerk reaction to be negative.

    And to everyone calling it a ‘gimmick’, isn’t our current format of qualifying a ‘gimmick’? This format is the same, just one by one. It just adds an extra sense of urgency.

    Shouldn’t putting the ‘best drivers in the world’ under pressure be a positive thing? I don’t see any negatives to this.

    Besides, we should try it. If it doesn’t work, drop it. We’ve done it before and the sport/’show’ is still in tact.

    And I know there’s many saying “this isn’t fixing the issue!” – sadly, the issue will never be fixed. They’ve had countless chances to ‘solve the aero issue’, and they clearly aren’t interested in that. The quicker we learn to accept that, the better. Do I like it? Not at all. But i’ve completely accepted it. Too many teams will be upset to bin aero and bring in spec wings, and I kind of see their point. Until someone comes up with the ‘magic bullet’, we’ll have to learn to accept these tinkers.

    I’m totally comfortable with qualy format changes. It’s the same for everyone, unlike DRS. That’s also why I was totally comfortable with the Pirelli tyres for the 2012 season. Any change that leaves the teams baffled and having to try and work things out is just brilliant with me. It’s a great compensation for just how far the teams have come, and how much data they’re all privy to. Teams have never been more spoilt when it comes to data exposure, so format changes and difficult tyres are, in my opinion, perhaps a necessary evil.

    1. Fair comment but for me I am still hopeful that they ultimately go the direction not of spec wings as you suggest, just a greater emphasis on mechanical grip to aero. You are right that any quali format is a gimmick of some sort to provide some type of show, but ultimately I can’t see ever giving up on the thinking that unpredictability should simply come from close racing in cars that put the emphasis on driver vs driver action. No matter what happens on Saturday, the question remains will one car still be handcuffed behind another in it’s dirty air, leaving him waiting for the terrible DRS to kick in if he can even get within a second for that to be employed. I share your pessimism about them never giving up on their aero addiction, except that for me the difference is F1 has never seemed in so much trouble and so in need of simplification, not over complication. I hope their hand may be forced soon to, as I say, at least emphasize more mechanical grip. I’m not suggesting they try to unlearn what they know about aero, just rethink the direction and tweak it enough to close up the cars and promote drivers being able to race each other in the pinnacle of racing.

  13. I wonder if “Elimination Qualifying” will be 2016’s “Double Points”? Loathed by fans and dropped after one year.

    1. @swordsman_uk I don’t think it’s as gimmicky, egregiously unfair or potentially damaging to the sport as double points was to get kind of response.

      1. @keithcollantine I agree with you there, it’s not as bad as the double points and almost certainly was a “lesser of two evils” choice as you’ve pointed out.
        I do wonder if (and hope) it’ll be dropped before the start of 2017. I just think in practice it is going to make Qualifying less interesting.

  14. petebaldwin (@)
    28th February 2016, 13:01

    I don’t see a problem with it but it’s not a solution to anything. It’s like the roof falling off your house and deciding to change the wallpaper.

  15. Just as politicians often do, this seems like some out of the blue smoke and mirrors to distract us from the real issues. Problem is, they can’t even get the distraction right, let alone the solving of the main issues. Very sad, frustrating, and discouraging.

  16. The biggest problem with elimination qualifying would be in Q3 of qualifying. When there will only be 3-4 cars left, they would almost all leave the track at around 4 mins.(maybe except for the one who has provisional pole) left. Then after they set a time, they would not have enough time to go for another run. By then, the one who has provisional pole would not need to go out anymore if he is still on top and we would have an empty track at the last minute. Talk about anti-climax.

  17. I say as soon as possible. I’m not too convinced about the system, but I find it unfair to judge it so harshly before having seen it in action. If it is introduced early it can be fine tuned better for the following season. And if doesn’t work at all it can be dropped before the start of 2017.
    There’s the argument that rules shouldn’t be changed mid season, but I don’t think it’s a big problem. Teams have enough time to prepare (since it won’t be implemented until the Spanish GP at the earliest).

  18. Never.




  19. The mega thing about this concept is that the closer the race is (=supposedly more exciting)…the less exciting & the shorter qualifying will be. If 4 cars are fighting for pole with a small gap, the 4 drivers in question won’t wait the last minute to go, even those being P1 & P2 – they’ll need to cover their positions. Same applies for Q2. At the end, we will have a similar approach as now, but only with the runs being put closer together at the beginning of the session & with no climax at all at the end of it.
    Just mega..

  20. Please, just don’t… F1 needs to get rid of these artificial elements, not implementing new ones. F1 should be about flatout driving, but this points toward “how can we even more distract the drivers not to let them drive flatout”

    1. @andrewt How this new rule is rewarding people who not driving flat out?

      1. @sonicslv thank you for asking about it, i’ll try to explain it, i hope you’ll see my point. it might reward those who are not driving flatout, but surely won’t reward those who are driving flatout. this new system basically requires you to be on track for multiple laps in order to be able to react and avoid the last position if neccessary. this means that you have to be hard enough on the tyres every lap, because maybe that’s the last that would count for you, however, at the same time you want to be easy on them as well, because maybe the next lap might be the crucial. again, you have to find a fine line, it will be more about “efficient” driving and less about “flatout” driving. of course the best cars can land a decisive lap for a one and only flying lap and then can sit out the rest of the session, but i really doubt that anyone would risk this.

        1. @andrewt I get where you coming from, but I think I don’t agree with your conclusion. The biggest problem is (I’m not counting Mercedes here because they’re anomaly) how much time you can afford to relax while keeping the tire still healthy for next lap? I doubt 0.300s slower lap going to do it, and yet it could make a Ferrari (2nd best car atm) get eliminated on Q2. So I think the most “efficient” driving is still equal to “flatout” driving. Of course this is assuming Pirelli tires still behaves like last year. If 2016 Pirellis actually can hold performance for more than a lap though, it could be different. Another thing to consider is fuel. Without refueling rules, the refueling process now is very slow and the car must be in the garage, which will cost lot of time. Fueling the car the for more laps on the other hand, basically just carrying dead weight on the early flying lap.

          In the end though, I think the most entertaining part will be in Q2, where all midfield have chance to get through Q3 and top teams may slipped up if they not careful.

          1. @sonicslv I can accept your argument about the fuel aspect, that’s quite decisive. Although I’m still not convinced about the advantages of this system, maybe it deserves a chance, and if it does not work, the current system will still be there to revert to.

  21. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” If F1 (well, BE and the FIA) want “more excitement” to stop the decline in their profits, then how about a pit-lane fireworks display every time a team changes all four wheels in less than 3 seconds? It works for World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (d/b/a WWE)…

    1. With the coaching from the pits nothing is left to chance. I’m more fond of the sprinkler system connected to the roulette wheel.

  22. There’s no need. There was pretty much nothing wrong with the previous format. Just scrap it and go and sort out the real problems in F1. End of.

  23. Seems like a pretty pointless change to me.
    If they want to change something about qualifying get rid of putting the cars in parc ferme at the end of the session. If car A is faster than car B in qualifying, not allowing changes after the session pretty much guarantees that car A will be faster than car B in the race. Give the teams the ability to make “reasonable” changes after qualifying at that may mix things up a little on race day.

  24. I wish F1 would bring back 1 hour qualifying sessions. Those were always about the natural build up to the final 10 minutes which were almost always exciting where the track conditions were at their best. Maybe its my rose tinted glasses again and pinning for the old days. But still. F1 seems to be more about instant gratification and it believes its audience can’t sit still and wait 1 hour for a results. Instead we get 3 results in 1 hour! As for this new qualifying format – I’m willing for them to try and see what the response it. An alternative is to try its format in a lower down series like GP3/2 and see how it works their first instead of a big bang approach F1 seems to take. But it definitely shouldn’t be implemented this year, might as well bring it in with the regulation changes for next year.

  25. The main negative will be that once eliminated, the slowest car is now still on track whilst others are trying to be not eliminated in the next 90 secs. With a longer circuit this could mean up to 3 coasting cars jeopardising others. It wont work.

  26. We should start a crowdfund with all the fans and buy these idiots out that make these rules

  27. Delaying the introduction because they don’t have the software necessary says all you need to know about who’s running the sport. Throw out ideas without thinking them through.

  28. Introduce this in the last 4 GPs of this season as an experiment, also as something to look forward to for viewers.
    Anybody agrees?

    1. Too late in the season for it to be worthwhile. Plus, you’ll get many seeing it as desperately trying to alter the course of the championship.

      4-5 races IN to the season, however…

  29. NO official words said this “elimination qualifying” was decided to be introduced in Australian race of this season.

    “potentially as soon as the beginning of the 2016 season”

  30. It’s an idiotic idea which hasn’t even slightly been given proper consideration, will have next-to-zero positive impact on qualifying within 2-3 races as teams get their strategic ducks in a row, and arguably will have a negative impact overall. It shouldn’t happen. End of.

  31. Here’s why the new qualifying format would be a good idea:

    There will always be 3 or 4 cars in immediate danger of being eliminated. Those cars will get a lot of attention from FOM. During Q1 and Q2, those will be the smaller teams. That means more screen time for them. They need it.

    Second, once the field has been winnowed down to 3 or 4 cars in Q3, we will actually get to see large portions of their laps. The fans have always been complaining that all FOM is showing at the end of Q3 is the start/finish line. They are currently doing that because too much is going on at the same time. That won’t be a problem anymore, and as a result we’ll get more shots of drivers right at the edge of their skills. Isn’t that what we want?

  32. I personally don’t see how this new format is any more or less artificial than what we have currently. It’s just a different method of elimination. If something like Formula E’s ‘fanboost’—or the ballast idea what was being kicked around—was implemented, then it becomes artificial. Unlike a lot of what goes on in F1, it doesn’t seem that this format will be giving anyone an unfair advantage. I say throw it in for Australia and see how well the teams and drivers are able to adapt. I mean… it’s just a sport. Why not play around a bit?

  33. This is rather amusing. I remember very similar sentiments when the current qualifying format was introduced and people were saying how it is going to ruin F1. Haha. I think this new format will end in the same results as now. The results will just “trickle” in and I think perhaps it will result in more laps completed during qualifying which sounds like a good thing to me.

  34. I voted ” No elimination qualifying”. There’s no need to change the current system. F1 problems are in other areas.

    Question: Is this qualifying system being used by any car racing category in the world?

  35. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    28th February 2016, 18:37

    “Put faster cars in the pack, that way the immense performance differential between the top teams and the midfield will force overtaking.”

    This is not only a rationale flawed by the fact that this new elimination system demonstrably will have to effect on the top teams whatsoever, but it is a very defeatist, pessimistic approach. This new proposal is an incorrectly applied sticking-plaster on F1’s gaping, septic wound; one that tries to conceal aero-centric design cultures in F1 without actually attempting to treat it. And of course, each problem is inter-linked, such as the expense of aerodynamic R&D and the dominance of the financially superior teams.

    Last week, the unfurling mess that is the 2017 formula cast a very revealing spotlight onto the true power-brokers of F1: the manufacturers.

  36. As soon as possible, but not in F1. Try it out in Formula E, Don’t-Mention-the-Renault-V8 World Series or something else that doesn’t matter too much.

    I kind of like the idea of more cars on track through the session, but it won’t be any easier to follow (until the last few cars) and doesn’t fit in with F1’s ultra soft one-shot tyres for me – it’s more suited to more durable tyres on sportscars or bikes.

    1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
      28th February 2016, 18:57

      @bullfrog “Don’t-Mention-the-Renault-V8 World Series”

      LOL. RPM should have called it “Formula Outcast” or “Formula Elephant-in-the-Room”…

  37. It will not matter to Merc at all. They are fast enough to not be affected by bernies foolish rule changes. Bring them on..

  38. ColdFly F1 (@)
    28th February 2016, 19:05

    Great concept; best thing since sliced bread ;-)

  39. Well as far as I can work it out…

    The Mercs won’t have any trouble in Q1 and Q2. One fast lap, job done.
    In Q3 everyone is going to use 2 sets of tyres to do the 2 fastest laps they can, same as ever.
    Every hot lap already has an out- and in-lap associated with it, so I don’t see why the elimination section will have more traffic. In fact with fewer cars there’ll be less.
    The track will be less busy early on in the session, with only 8 cars, so unless Bernie is paying someone to impede them the Mercs will fuel for 2 laps and be sure to make it through to the EVEN LESS busy part later on, when they’ll be LESS likely to hit traffic.
    Then at the end Mercedes will have the entire lovely global TV broadcast all to themselves.

    So it seems to me to be in fact a smiling Toto plan. Right up there with “Drop Renault first, Dietrich, zen ve talk, no problem!!” Or have I missed something?

  40. It’s a trick question: “When should F1 introduce elimination qualifying?”, because we already have elimination qualifying.

  41. The only change I ever wanted to see was merging the first two sessions, and making the then Q1 20min, and the then Q2 15min. This is just another gimmick.

  42. I just don’t see the point of it. Why mess with something that works & occaisonally throws up an interesting and mixed grid?

  43. I can’t see it having a huge impact on the spectacle. It’ll be different, and there’ll be some surprises, but no more than what the current system already produces. It’s needlessly complicated and was obviously rushed through without a great deal of thought, fixing something that wasn’t broken. It’s just completely unnecessary. So I’m against it.

  44. Never. Qualifying should be run in three segments with the slowest six drivers being eliminated at the end of the first two and the ten quickest ones then battle for pole in the third segment. Easy.

  45. What are they trying to fix? Wrong do it again, how can you have your pudding if you don’t eat your meat!

  46. This is a very unnecessary idea and helps nothing. If F1 needs anything, it’s an independent rule maker who understands F1 is a sport and which the teams can’t interfere with, but it’s more likely for FOM to accept Social Media.

  47. It is another wrong idea from a formula 1 owned by a wrong old man.

  48. When should Bernie leave F1?

  49. I voted never but given that’s unlikely, please hold it off until the start of the 2017 season so that it can be properly thought out and introduced.

  50. Maybe, when other things are fixed that need fixing first thank you very much.

  51. Dear F1. This year, you have a lot of new fans particularly from America.

    Please avoid being gimmicky and complicated as I think we should adopt them.


  52. Try telling the FIA to introduce it on 29th February 2100… error 404: date not found.

  53. There is nothing wrong with quali as it stands,why stuff around with it.

  54. Why fix something which isn’t broken?
    Personally I’ld like to go back to the 12 laps quali from the Hakinnen/Schumacher era.
    That was really exiting. But the TV coverage complained about long gaps with no cars on track.
    I think what we have now is an OK alternative to what I liked. There now are cars on track all the time so the TV guys should be OK with it as well.
    Now Bernie opens his stupid mouth again because he doesn’t want the fastest guy to start on Pole…. Saying some weird stuff about mud… Why are people even listening to him?
    Is everybody afraid of him? Or is it because he is the ‘money’ man?
    Can’t we as fans do something to make him resign? Because he is not going to leave on his own..
    He once said he would leave because VAG would only join F1 if Bernie is not present… But he is still here…

  55. After giving this the due consideration it truly deserves ( about 0.026 secs ) I came to the conclusion it would only be cool when hell freezes over.

  56. Dan_the_McLaren_fan (@dan_the_mclaren_fan)
    1st March 2016, 5:35

    The elimination formula isn’t a bad idea I would say. It looks good on paper, but I’m not convinced it will make a big change in how qualifying is going. I believe teams will behave similarly. Only the cars in danger of a knockout will feel the pressure.

    What would be better imo would be to do what many series are now doing : 3 stages of qualifying, with 3rd being a superpole (usually done with 4 cars). That would be a more welcome change, because I believe it will be a more significant change, and the “show” will be improved.

  57. Aside from our opinions about the propose Qualifying changes, the worst thing that could be done would be to change them after the season has begun. Having consistent rules for a season, esp those that can so dramatically affect the outcome and the championship, is key for ANY sport, including F1!

Comments are closed.