Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Albert Park, 2016

New qualifying format “definitely wrong” – Vettel

2016 Australian Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel has added to the criticism of F1’s new qualifying format.

The Ferrari driver echoed Lewis Hamilton’s view that the shortcomings of elimination qualifying had been predicted before the season started.

“I don’t understand why all the people are so surprised now,” said Vettel after qualifying third for the Australian Grand Prix. “It was going to happen, there were plenty of engineers and other brains that, basically, had sort of predicted what would happen.”

Each phase of qualifying saw a brief period of activity followed by a lull in the on-track action. In Q3 Vettel did a single lap then sat out the rest of the session.

“It was crazy at the beginning with all the cars lining up at the end of the pit lane and everybody trying to set a lap time to avoid the risk of being eliminated,” said Vettel.

“And then it was very quiet, same in Q2 and equally in Q3. So I don’t think that it is more exciting, it’s definitely the wrong way to go.”

“Nothing has changed from what we had said a few weeks ago, but apparently somebody liked it, otherwise we wouldn’t have had this format.”

Vettel added Ferrari are “a bit further behind” the Mercedes drivers than the team expected. “It was a bit difficult to find the rhythm in qualifying.”

“I felt quite good with the car in P3, but then it took some time to get back, and only in Q3 it really started to happen. I had a very good lap, and in the end, because the gap was quite big, I felt that my first lap had been good enough. There really wasn’t another half a second in there, so we called it off, and saved a set of tyres.”

2016 Australian 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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47 comments on “New qualifying format “definitely wrong” – Vettel”

  1. “I had a very good lap, and in the end, because the gap was quite big, I felt that my first lap had been good enough. There really wasn’t another half a second in there, so we called it off, and saved a set of tyres.”

    Thinking about that statement, this new elimination qualifying is fully self-defeating. There’s absolutely no chance with it for a driver taking this stance to be overtaken by a slower car doing a late flyer and causing an upset.

    Consequently if a slower car did come out that posed a risk to Ferrari that would have forced Ferrari on track and in turn they could have posed a greater risk to Mercedes.

    This qualifying really stinks, no matter which way you slice it, last years system is unequivocally better.

    1. It might succeed if they add refuelling ban during qualifying!

      1. Erix that sort of happened 10 years ago, which led to cars coasting through qualifying in order to burn fuel.

        1. ..that wont happen if you might kicked out every 90 seconds!

          1. good idea! But the more fuel efficient engines may have a big advantage?

  2. In my opinion the only part that really didn’t work was Q3 which needs a simple adjustment to make it good. Ecclestone and friends want unpredictability and I can see how we can get that in Q1 and Q2. Leave that as it is, then in Q3 make it one run only per driver in the reverse order they finished in Q2. One shot at pole with the fastest last. This lets us see every fast drivers lap and puts pressure on them to deliver, building the unpredictability.

    1. Only Q1 was decent, both Q2 and Q3 were rubbish.

    2. “with the fastest last”.
      > The last guy on track in qualifying usually has the benefit of higher track temps and more rubber on track. So you’d give an additional benefit to the guy who already showed most promise for pole. In today’s reality, it would make the gap between Merc and Ferrari in quali bigger. (in normal & dry circumstances)

      But honestly, I don’t think making Q3 a single lap effort will do it.
      F1 is not about ruining your race by making 1 tiny mistake in quali.
      F1 is about making a fast car and driving it fast.
      And quali should be about driving the car as fast as humanly possible.
      So give teams enough time AND enough tires for enough fast laps that allows them to push their machine to the limit.
      that’s all quali should be about. No rubbish like saving tires for the race or mandatory tire compound to start the race on, etc… quali should only decide the starting grid. nothing more.

  3. This ridicolous 1.6 litre V6 engines sounds like a vacuum cleaner. I think this is not okay. And when bugdet’s in teams are big so why does it seem that the only meaning is save tires with ridicolous ‘engines’. Engines back to V12, refuelings back, no radios on car (only emergency situations), tires and fuel so much you need; no and no to this whole stupidness we see nowadays in ‘F1’. F1, so far I have understood should be the ‘king serie’ of car motorsport not a tyre, gasoline saving etc. stupidness.

    1. “F1, so far I have understood should be the ‘king serie’ of car motorsport not a tyre, gasoline saving etc. ”
      Sums up everything wrong with today’s political correctness and unproved global warming and co2 bs stories ruining not only F1.

      1. @dex022 Global warming is a fact and proven. Sure some people may exaggerate the impact (no, it wont turn earth axis or drown coastal cities anytime soon) but it’s still better to start taking some action. Also CO2 is not bs. If you think it’s bs, go live in industrial city in China where the regulation is not enforced.

        Why people want to go back to V12 when the V6 is objectively better engine (efficiency, power output, weight, etc) and then saying F1 should be the pinnacle of motorsport is always baffling me. It’s like rejecting current micro and nano electronics because its cheap and have no weight nor size. Real computer is Apple ][ and fiber optic connection is bad because the cable is practically empty. Real internet connection should have that distinct dialing sound.

        1. … great analogy.

        2. “it wont[..] drown coastal cities anytime soon”

          Pacific islands beg (literally) to differ. We lose sight of the impact in such a busy World.

        3. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
          19th March 2016, 14:50

          @sonicslv Thank you, my friend, this is the point. The W07 F1 just set the second fastest ever lap of the Albert Park circuit, and it did it with two fewer cylinders, about 35% less fuel and 40% more weight than the record holding Red Bull RB7. The 2016 Mercedes PU106-Type Hybrid is what defines F1 – it’s not a decibel level, plenty of motorsports were even louder than the old V10s, but rather it is innovation and cutting-edge technology.

          Rather than watching today’s farce and climbing the partisan ‘engine noise’ pedestal, accept the fact that F1 is in a rut not because of the stunning technical brilliance of the powerunits, but because of the brazen stupidity of F1’s decision makers. Unfortunately, F1’s political intelligence is inordinately dwarfed by the depth and breadth of its non-executive technical genius.

          1. @william-brierty Absolutely, Noise is waste energy, and the current engines are within like 3 dB of the v8’s its the tone thats different, the rev limit being choked down to 1200 because of the fuel flow limit is the issue.

            Anyway, if being the loudest determined the highest tier of motorsport, then we should all be clamoring to watch top fuel drag racing.

        4. @sonicslv

          Great response. These engines, as polarising as they be, are the future.

          Climate change denial doesn’t usually deserve as response (arguing with such opinions is usually pointless, due to the blind failure of the denier to recognise, or acknowledge the weight of the compelling evidence to the contrary), but this was perfect.

        5. There is no such thing as global warming. You must believe in the tooth fairy and aliens as well.

      2. So all those thousands of scientists are wrong about climate change, and some random internet person (you) is right?

        Yeah, sure. Incidentally, I have a bridge to sell and I am also a prince who needs to transfer several million dollars to a new bank account via an intermediary.

        1. Michael Brown
          19th March 2016, 17:29

          There’s evidence to disprove global warming as well.

          First it was global cooling back in the 70’s, then it became global warming in the 90’s, and now it’s climate change. It’s just a ploy to give the government more control of the economy and energy.

          Nonetheless I think hybrids are the way to go in racing now. If only they were lighter…

    2. Actually, the only part of F1 that’s still the pinnacle of motorsport 🏁 is the engines.

      1. I can think of a few other area’s as well Patrick:
        – the level of aero development and complexity will not be matched by any other series.
        – the same goes for the steering wheels.
        – The amount of data processed during an F1 race will not be matched by any other series.

        we don’t necessarily like all those things, but fair is fair: F1 is absolutely on top in those fields compared to anything else out there.

        1. And safety and the research into future safety options they are undertaking in reaction to people dying in other series. Justin Wilson and Henry Surtees died in other series but it is F1 that is putting in place measures to stop that type of accident.

          The pole lap today was the 2nd fastest lap of this track ever so by the start of the 3rd year of PU’s which are beyond the ability of other series they are outdoing v10 monsters with 1.6 litre v6 engines. As such I will add development to one of many things F1 is the best at. The only thing that pegs it back is off track politics.

  4. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    19th March 2016, 13:29

    I am in a state of perpetual despair. Making the drivers qualify by jogging the racetrack, or setting a laptime in the medical car would have been more entertaining. F1 would be greatly better off if at some point in the development of new rules, the proposals were looked over by somebody with a triple digit IQ – the users of this forum predicted every single one of the litany of failures we experienced this morning within the first posts after its announcement.

    And to top it off, we have an elderly man with no interest in the sport’s fans telling journalists that we cannot completely abandon a system he has just described in fruity terms, because “Mercedes will be 1-2 again”. Here’s an idea: make sure Mercedes or the next manufacturer along isn’t 1-2 by cutting downforce levels and evening the playing field with the rest of the grid. That way, even if Mercedes are 1-2 they can actually be conceivably overtaken during the race without being disrupted by errant leaves.

    This has been the obvious solution for two seasons now, and F1’s failure to even acknowledge the virtues of reduced downforce is appalling. Perhaps we should all just pretend that GP2 is the pinnacle of motorsport…

    1. If they want randomness, have the best looking WAG draw lots from a bowl. Or even do a “tournament” with 2 cars competing and one dropping out. You could make a far better show out of that than what we got today if you want randomness.

    2. @william-brierty


      Nail, head, done…

  5. I thought Q1 & Q2 were interesting & quite strategic. Q3 however, perhaps should revert to a straight shootout and reduced to 10 mins in length.

    I don’t believe the new format overall deserves some of the hysterical criticisms levelled at it, but that’s what we have now come to expect on these sites – almost immediate negative feedback for just about every aspect of F1. They’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t. I thought it was fine and threw in some variables to make it less predictable and somewhat strategic in places, but what do I know? I’m just an ‘ordinary’ F1 fan with a long (read normal) attention span. If 5 minute 30 seconds of track ‘inactivity’ spoils your day I would suggest consulting a medical practitioner to sort out your A.D.D.

    Of far more importance is the inexorable drift of Lewis’s accent towards the Azores..

    1. @baron Actualy last year format also have 5min and 30sec of track inactivity only it was placed between 2 runs. I guess people just can’t accept seeing a timer on top of their screen not reaching 0:00 yet

  6. Thanks for nothing Bernie.

    1. Blame Jean Todt. F1 governance is in his job description.
      Bernie only a sales man.

  7. Even in Q1 when it was arguably more busy than normal but not quite disastrous like Q2/Q3 with this new format, it was still too chaotic. It wasn’t a fun chaos either. It was just all around messy.

  8. This was the worst quali session I have seen since I started watching in 1993. Lets hope the race is a 10 after that.

  9. New qualy idea is very, very poor in current form and I don’t see it getting better.
    Think the idea was to copy the cycling elimination race (a brilliant spectacle), but any track is too long to do that properly, especially if you have to do an out lap too.

    Maybe’d be better if a timed lap can begin at any sector (and if you’re in the pit, you don’t need to do a full out lap). That’d be much quicker to then react.
    Also have as many tyres as you want in qualy (and forget idea of starting on qualy tyres). New set for the race. Let them just go for it. That *might* make it better.

  10. What a JOKE! I became very disillusioned with F1 last year but thought I would keep an open mind and see how things went this year. The constant artificial tinkering with the rules to try and improve the show is driving me mad, when all they have to focus on is levelling the playing field so as many drivers can battle as possible, end of! This is it for me bye bye F1…

    1. Lightweight 😆

  11. So is F1 trying to actively bury itself? Or are they just trolling for a laugh, seriously what the hell did I just watch.

  12. Michael Brown
    19th March 2016, 17:30

    Don’t take anything for granted in F1, since it’s guaranteed that the dummies in charge of F1 will make it worse.

  13. What this quali debacle shows is that decisions are being made in F1 with no thought, much less consultation. Quite how this new qualifying format was proposed, considered, voted on and implemented so fast, and with so little publicity, is baffling. It appeared fully-formed, very recently (so new in fact, it was going to be introduced in Spain). The engineers were aware of how silly it would be, yet no one thought to ask them. If this was one of those “unanimous” decisions made by teams, it can only mean one thing: their decisions are no more “free” than a man at knifepoint who “decides” to give his wallet to a mugger. And if it was a top-down decision from Bernie then it really is time he retired.

    Either way, another worrying sign that the management of F1 is in very poor health.

  14. As someone who only has the media reports to go by, it does seem to be a bit demoralising for the drivers knowing they failed simply because fate was against them, especially in Q3. At least with the old system a driver has the whole of that qualifying session to improve, plus they can complete the lap they are on.

  15. The really sad thing is there was so much interesting stuff that happened, like Lewis’ 50th Pole Position, and the presence of the Torro Rosso drivers in Q3, the absence of one driver each from Williams and Red Bull, and has McLaren-Honda improved? These should be the points of interest, not the format.
    So here is my take on it:
    Congratulations to Lewis!
    Well done Max and Calos, I hope you do well in the race!

    1. Doh! My apologies to Carlos for misspelling his name.

  16. Formula 1 may have officially become a global joke today.

  17. I am also a huge MotoGP fan, though I always thought that qualifying in F1 was much better than in MotoGP. Then this day happened. I watched both, and as I said at a different site already. F1 and MotoGP qualifying were universes apart today in favor of MotoGP!

    Also there was only 2.8 tenths between the first 5 riders, in F1 we have 1.6 seconds between to first 5 today on a lap time about 30seconds less..

    1. Yeah but where all 5 riders have a chance to respond with another lap F1 allows only 2 drivers by the end but they have no tires or time to change them with 4 minutes of the session left.

  18. Why not use a qualifying system similar to Nascar. Every car goes out seperately for 1 lap. Eliminate 7 cars and do the same again. Then do the same with the top 8 cars. This will put maximum pressure on the drivers to perform and give teams and drivers that might not normally have a chance for a pole a chance to snatch one if the top drivers have a bad lap. I believe the fans would embrace something like this because it would give more drivers a chance to get poles. This would put maximum pressure on the drivers and I think it would create some interesting starting grids for the races. What do you think fans?

  19. Jean-Marie Balestre: The best decision is my decision!

  20. I would like to install a PGR kudos meter in each car. Send the cars out in random groups of 4 and give them say 5 laps to get as much kudos as they can. Kudos can be gotten by chaining together power slides through corners, slipstreaming and overtaking other cars. I image Hamilton would love this.

  21. I like it! I’m sure Pirelli could make some extra smoky tires, maybe even colored smoke. Hamilton could recruit celebrity judges.

    They could let the fans vote and give the drivers extra power. Kimi approves.

    Or maybe they could make the track a big figure 8 and let them crash into each other. Maldonado might make a comeback!

    Or maybe, if that is just to low brow for Rolex, they could get some really great drivers, build them insanely fast cars, and give them 15 minutes or so to set a blistering lap. Then do it 2 more times! Wouldn’t that be awesome? Some days it might be more exciting than the race!

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