Valtteri Bottas, Williams, Albert Park, 2016

New qualifying frustrating and flawed – drivers

2016 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Formula One drivers have reacted with disappointment to the decision not to drop the unpopular elimination qualifying format ahead of this weekend’s race.

Valtteri Bottas told Sky the teams had already sussed the new procedure before the Australian Grand Prix and was sceptical about the chances of it producing a surprise result.

Romain Grosjean, Haas, Albert Park, 2016
Few drivers like F1’s new qualifying system, says Grosjean
“If I’m honest I don’t see why it would,” he said. “I think the teams simulated already before the race weekend in Melbourne very well the qualifying: how it was going to work and what is the theoretical and actually what is the best thing to do in terms of your strategy in the qualifying.”

“And I think most teams more or less made most out of it. So as the system’s being the same I’m not expecting that different kind of qualifying.”

Romain Grosjean was one of the first drivers to drop out during Q1 last weekend having run out of time to complete the lap he was on.

“I don’t like new qualifying,” he told NBC. “I don’t think any drivers do.”

“It’s very frustrating when you’re on your lap, and a very good lap, and your engineer call you for box because you’ve run out of 90 seconds elimination time zone. That was very frustrating.”

Although the system is back for this weekend Grosjean is hoping for a return to last year’s qualifying format.

“It is back on,” he said, “we have to deal with it, we have to understand it better – drivers and engineers – and hopefully we do a better job in here.”

“But I liked the Q1, Q2, Q3 from last year.”

2016 Bahrain 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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23 comments on “New qualifying frustrating and flawed – drivers”

  1. The every 90sec elimination format for Q1, and Q2, but Q3 with all 8 cars on track until the chequered flag would be a better solution/compromise, or just give them more sets of tyres for Q3.

    1. More tyres with the old system! Another extra set of tyres for Q2 and Q3 only to be used there. If not, then handed back.

  2. I hate to be the broken record here but what we had last year was absolutely fine. The elimination qualifying issues were far from restricted to Q3.

    1. Agreed. Q1 and Q2 were awful as well. The old system was great.

      1. Well, I wouldn’t say great. I’m absolutely no fan of the current elimination system, but what always annoyed me with the old system, is that it benefitted the faster teams, as they could save up tyres for Q3 or the race, resulting in a much bigger gap between the top teams and the rest.

        My solution would be a qualification tyre. A reasonably fast tyre but with low deg. Each driver gets one set for each qualifying part they enter + one set for FP3. Each driver gets enough fuel to last 90% qualification session on maximum fuel burning. There is just one other trick, you may only leave the pits each qualification session once. When you enter the pits during a qualifying session, that session is over for the driver.

        Since everyone is a little heavy at the start, all (or most) drivers are forced to go out the entire qualification, after so many laps you get faster and faster, but the tyres are almost as fast as they were new, resulting in the best laps at the end of qualifying.

        This way, you can implement the elimination system within the old elimination system, as it will be crowded on the track. No tyre advantages for any team, no dull moments. The question is, can Pirelli develop such a tyre?

  3. Since last year I was very busy, the only part of a GP weekend I watched was qualifying. It was certainly the most interesting session, imo. Maybe it was not perfect, but it was good. I still don’t understand why they would change it. I’m not usually someone who gets frustrated about this kind of stuff. I’m a “let it be” kind of person, but this kind of stupidity crosses the line for me.

  4. totally off topic, but the lead image is a fantastic photograph

  5. 4 sets of qualifying tyres, 4 mini-sessions, every driver does a single-lap in each session, every time counts, fastest overall starts 1st.

    Each session timed as is now. The only change is you get a “target lap-time” for pole as you approach the line.

    Driver doesn’t complete a hot-lap? Use the 107% rule to allocate them a penalty lap-time for that session.

    1. ColdFly F1 (@)
      1st April 2016, 14:22

      @thef1engineer, as much as I like most of your contributions, I think we should be simple here: It wasn’t broken; didn’t need to be fixed!

      1. That is pretty simple isn’t it?

        We’ll probably go back to Q1, Q2, Q3 for the rest of the season post-Bahrain, but there’s definitely an appetite to change it from the FIA and FOM moving forward, and they will get their way. So might aswell start making suggestions now?…

  6. The only problem the F1 didn’t have, was the qualifying format. Yes, there is space for improvements, but finally it was good. I liked the old qualifying format more than the races itself. So it is political decision to change something in the F1, but please don’t do it with the qualifying.

    1. Yeah, best part of weekend… Lets change that.

  7. The only way the elimination format can work is if the drivers are able to lean on the tyres for more than one lap. In order to react they need to be on track circulating and having to come back in after a run doesn’t give the teams enough time to turn the cars around and react if their driver is on the bubble.

    I wish F1 would stop trying to be cute on this, just go back to the old format. We can’t keep coming up with solutions to a problem that shouldn’t exist because Jean Todt doesn’t want to admit he made a mistake.

  8. Has any team or FIA representative actually tried to explain why this elimination qualifying is destined to fail / might probably work / just needs some adjustments? We obviously saw that it did not work at Melbourne and F1 cannot really afford more experiments so I believe it should simply return to the 2015 format. Nevertheless, it would be good to hear some reasons instead of continuous replay of the same ‘It will never work! – Who knows? Let’s wait and see!’ The only reasoned explanation I have seen so far is this excellent comment of the day:

  9. There is not problem with qualifying format. But with tires. There should be qualifying tires and even with elimination format would be good.
    Maybe I am alone with this but elimination format is not better or what everybody thinks worse than the old one.
    I dont see real figth for pole position. And that was the same last year. We can watch sitting drivers in cars waiting for something hehe or safing tires that is boring. I like Formula 1 but it is good that MotoGP is in this weekand. :-)

  10. “Bernie Ecclestone wants Formula 1 to have grids decided by a ballot, or introduce a ‘time ballast’ system, if elimination qualifying gets dumped after the Bahrain Grand Prix.” – Motorsport

    F1’s REAL problem is Bernie. The man must go. Or that one-eyed dried-up grape is going to keep the ‘good’ ideas flowing…

  11. Elimation qualifying would be absolutely brilliant for oval track racing but not for a road course

  12. In the many discussions regarding the failed yet still in place elimination qualifying format there have been a number of fans stating they will refuse to watch it. On the other hand, I cannot look away. In fact I’ll prepare some snacks and beverages, then sit back and enjoy the farce. Hopefully this will be our last chance to see this particular ridiculous display of F1 governance ineptitude and they will be shamed into just ending this madness. Of course, they have no shame, so maybe they will just end it any way so everybody will shut up about it.

    Anyways, I’ll have my dvr on to record this historic debacle. Thanks F1 governance.

  13. Talking of broken records, I’m gonna mention the COVERAGE again. Towards the end of Q3 we could be watching most of two awesome hot laps, followed maybe by the two onboards of the complete laps of pole and the one that just missed out.

    Let us see if Bernie has us looking into garages instead.

    1. Lol or if JB does well it’ll be FA tanning.

      1. Yeah @robbie Bernie isn’t too keen on Ron either is he. It might need Sebi or Dan…

  14. For Heavens sake, there was nothing wrong with the previous qualy format. Change for changes sake. ….however I have been wrong before!!

  15. Apologies if this idea has been mentioned before, but if they are determined to have a ‘knockout’ qualifying format, there’s no need to keep the three mini-sessions. Go back to a continuous hour session. After 10 mins, begin the knockout format with cars going after every 2 mins (gives a little more time for teams to react to events). Which leaves (by my bad math) 10 mins at the end for the final two cars to be given an extra set of tyres (or even two) to have a full on head to head for pole.

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