That Formula One’s new qualifying system has failed to win fans over will not come as a surprise to many readers of F1 Fanatic. More than three-quarters of you did not want to see it introduced to begin with.
The verdict among those following the session on F1 Fanatic Live was almost unanimously negative. Criticism was pouring in via comments and on social media before the chequered flag had fallen on Q3 – mostly because the cars had also stopped circulating long before then.
F1’s new qualifying system came about after Bernie Ecclestone proposed a new means of shaking up the grid to stop the Mercedes drivers from starting every race from pole position. The resulting compromise hasn’t worked, and top team principals are already calling for change.
Stick with the current elimination system
Ditching the elimination system immediately would be an embarrassing U-turn. It would also be too hasty: the full implications of the new format won’t be understood until it has been used for at least a few more races, perhaps even an entire season.
Keeping it would give fans and teams alike more time to adjust to it and appreciate its qualities as well as its flaws. Formula One Management didn’t have its television graphics package ready in time for the first race but when it does arrive it may help the latest system find favour.
Go back to the old knock-out system
The strongest argument against the new qualifying format was always that there wasn’t anything wrong with the old one. It was widely understood yet still capable of producing surprise results: the most recent time it was used one of the front-running teams made a mistake and had a car knocked out in Q1.
As a compromise solution the elimination format has clearly failed to present a new obstacle for the front-running teams. Rather, as suggested here previously, it may only have made things easier for them. Going back to the old system will be straightforward and avoid the sport having to explain another new format.
Use the ‘time penalty’ system Ecclestone wanted
F1 ended up with a new qualifying system for 2016 because Ecclestone wanted to introduce a new means of mixing up the grid. The proposal involved running the previous qualifying system then giving drivers a ‘time penalty’ based on their finishing position in the previous race.
For example if a driver won one race and took pole position for the next, they would be given a time penalty moving them down the grid. This would guarantee that F1 would not see the same driver winning every race and starting from pole position in the next one, creating a greater opportunity for uncertainty and varied outcomes.
The best thing to be said about the elimination qualifying format is that it is far better than the idea Ecclestone originally proposed. His ‘time penalty’ plan comes from the same cheap box of tricks as double points.
Ecclestone has often complained that F1’s governance prevents him from doing exactly as he wishes. On this occasion that has served us well, for while elimination qualifying is a hasty compromise it has spared us an even lousier gimmick. ‘Time penalty’ qualifying has the same reek of artificiality as reverse grids.
However elimination qualifying is flawed for many reasons, most of which were apparent long before it was introduced despite the urgings of those who said we should ‘give it a chance’. It’s now had a chance, it failed miserably, and the best thing F1 can do to save face is go back to the previous knockout system without delay.
Which qualifying system should F1 use? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.
Which qualifying system do you prefer?
- None of the above (13%)
- The proposed 'time penalty' qualifying system (3%)
- The previous knockout qualifying system (81%)
- The current elimination qualifying system (4%)
Total Voters: 673
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
- Is DRS-baiting dangerous, or a legitimate tactic?
- Do Andretti-Cadillac deserve a place on the Formula 1 grid?
- Has Sargeant proved he deserves another season in Formula 1?
- Should the F1 world championship be decided by a 19-lap sprint race?
- Who should Red Bull run in their second F1 team in 2024?