F1 shouldn’t change qualifying format – De Ferran

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In the round-up: McLaren sporting director Gil de Ferran says Formula 1 should leave the current qualifying format unchanged.

What they say

F1 is considering plans to add a fourth stage to qualifying, Q4, as RaceFans reported yesterday.

To be honest, I quite like this qualifying format. I think of everything that I’ve seen over the years – and that’s a quite a wide range, including Friday qualifying, Saturday qualifying, limited number of laps, all sorts of things, single laps, one set of tyres per weekend the whole gamut – I think this is still my favourite type of qualifying.

I think the most important thing in qualifying, at least for me when I’m watching, is that I wanna know the fastest guy is on pole. As a driver – and I’ve done a lot of driving in qualifying – you know I always wanted to be the fastest guy and I think that this format is the best format to actually determine that. So that when you’re on pole position it has some meaning and some value. And I kind of like that.

Obviously with every format that I’ve seen over the years there is some positives, some negatives but on balance when I step back and I look at this format, it is my preferred format.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

Adam isn’t getting excited too soon about Honda’s ‘Renault-beating’ power unit upgrade.

I’d say I’m a fan of Honda and I’m excited at the prospect of seeing them finally come good… but after both cars failed to finish the last race (albeit not engine related) and we’ve not actually ‘seen’ this Honda engine that’s better than Renault’s perform in a race yet… I’d be inclined to keep quiet. Like if it is as good as they say then let the track performance speak for itself.

Though to be honest I hope it’s true. I think the best chance for a competitive season next year is Red Bull-Honda.
Adam (@Rocketpanda)

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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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  • 39 comments on “F1 shouldn’t change qualifying format – De Ferran”

    1. – Let’s just file this new qualifying on the self generating silly news section and move on.
      – on F1broadcasting tweet: the 60 minutes sessions from the 80-90s seemed ok and I cannot recall why it was changed. Maybe most fans didn’t really like the current format but fear the bad track record FIA has proposing qualifying systems. Isn’t the audience’s fall in line with the general decline in F1 viewership?
      – And finally, would it be that difficult to allow 3 sets of qualifying tyres for car for each GP and let them solve it themselves. The current format didn’t bring anything exceptional to the grid or to the race.

      1. maiagus, the reason why it changed was that the general feedback on that format was negative, both from those at the circuit and those watching it on TV. Given most of the laps would be set towards the end of the session, you would have extended period of time where the cameras and the fans at the circuit would have nothing to look at but an empty track.

        Having extended periods of nothing happening wasn’t great for those at the circuit, nor was it good for those watching on TV – quite a few broadcasters wouldn’t show the qualifying sessions in that era because they felt it was too boring and most fans weren’t interested in watching it. Spreading that action out across a wider amount of time generally seems to be much better received, particularly for those at the circuit (since now the cars are circulating around at much more evenly spaced intervals).

      2. The 60 minute format was changed after 2002 after complaints that teams were sitting out half of the session as the track tended to be faster towards the end so most saw little point in going out & wasting a run/set of tyres on a ‘dirty’ track. I think the 2002 USGP session saw nobody go out for about 40 minutes. Additionally 50-55 minutes of those sessions were seen as pointless to watch as all the positions tended to be set in the final runs.

        I always felt the reason for the first issue was the 12 lap limit that they introduced in 1993. Prior to that it was 1 hour with no lap limit & you always saw continuous running throughout & at times drivers doing multiple hot laps per-run if tyres were holding up. As soon as they went to the 12 lap limit in ’93 you saw less running & as teams started to figure out the best times to be on the track were towards the end you started to see them wait before going out.

        They tried a few different formats of single car/lap sessions from 2003-2005 & they proved massively unpopular (Hence why the format was changed 4 times in 3 years as they tried to find something that worked) & at times unfair if there was mid-session rain resulting in part of the field not getting a representative lap in.

        The current format has always been popular with fans from what i’ve seen & as was posted here by somebody yesterday, In one of F1/Liberty’s own recent fan survey’s only 27% of the 27,000+ fans who took part said they felt the qualifying format needed be changed & thats on-par with other polls/survey’s i’ve seen over the past few years.

        As the F1Broadcast tweet shows, Ratings are down but there down for the races as well & that is more down to shift to PayTV than any dislike of the quali/race formats.

    2. Woo COTD!

      Gotta clarify, I’m super excited at the idea of a Renault-beating Honda PU, I’m just worried they’re hyping it up and it won’t deliver. If it does deliver then fantastic, but we have heard it before…

      Also got to admit I don’t have a lot of faith in Ferrari strategy or development anymore – I don’t think they can actually sustain a championship bid across a whole year regardless of their drivers without managing to drop the ball. So I rather hope Red Bull and Honda next year come good and become the biggest challenge to Mercedes. Red Bull-Honda for 2019 champions!

      1. Congratulations on the COTD, Adam. I fully agree with letting the performance speak for itself for any team, and particularly so for Honda and Renault, whose verbal performances have often exceeded their track performances.

    3. Whatever! When motor racing goes fully electric that will be the deathknell for it. Gearheads have ZERO interest in watching that crap. F1 and Indy need to be smart and continue to use ICE’s. In fact, I agree with Hamilton, the series needs to go back to big V8’s or V10’s.

      1. I went to the Formula E in Hong Kong and it left me cold. Sorry, FE will have to get out on the big circuits to make any impact on me.

      2. The sad thing is, Liberty seems to be targeting a different group of fans from those who frequent this site, seeing as how many of us are at odds with many of the “bright spark” ideas that Liberty has. Liberty and we seem to have consensus on the broad problems plaguing F1 (lack of competitiveness, overtaking difficulty, excessive costs, etc.), but what we would like to see done, and what they are doing are quite often at cross purposes.

        It does go to show that Liberty have identified a target audience and are running their polls and focus groups on them, and it is that which is guiding their decision making.

        So as much as we might bemoan things like this, it does seem like we’d be the voices in the wild. The true measure of Liberty’s success will be whether for each disgruntled F1 fan who switches off, can they bring in one or more new fans, whether they’re purists or just sold on the razzle-dazzle of “the spectacle of F1”.

        1. @phylyp, to offer a counter point, Liberty Media can’t keep on chasing the same group of middle aged men in Western nations that make up the bulk of the fan base and that are usually the most vocal about wanting the sport twisted to their particular viewpoint though – usually one that was shaped by what was happening in F1 in the 1990s, since that period is what most of them probably grew up with and therefore believe that is what the sport ought to be.

          1. anon – agreed that Liberty Media have to revise their target segment, if anything, for the harsh fact that the group you mention is aging and dwindling. It is also why I pointed out in my concluding line about the true measure of the success of their approach.

          2. anon – I’m beginning to wonder just how old you are… ;)

      3. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
        2nd October 2018, 10:11

        Agag seems to put out this same statement every week despite the F1 figureheads and fans outrage at the suggestion.

        Just pipe down and run your little junior series mate, it’s getting boring.

        1. Truly, a gag order for Agag is in order.

          1. So you’re not gaga about Agag? @ferrox-glideh ;-)

            @ftruth – yeah, it’s a bit sad if he needs to piggyback on F1 to get visibility to FE. FE is unique enough that it can coexist with F1, attract a different set of fans, and make a name for itself.

            1. @phylyp I’m not against a good Agag gag. :)

      4. Vettel fan 17 (@)
        2nd October 2018, 17:13

        Yeah let’s keep on bring fossil fuels until we destroy the earth and run out of non-renewable energy sources. Great idea.

        1. Vettel fan 17 (@)
          2nd October 2018, 17:14


    4. I have a feeling that the figures shown above have more to do with the decline in F1 viewership in general than they do with any problems with the current qualifying format specifically. I say leave it alone.

      1. I suspect your feeling is correct.
        Couple that with the fact that it was the Russian GP that is not know for its popularity, it was in a different time slot and that Qualy has become pretty predictable over the last few years.
        Lets also consider that ever since Pay for View, numbers have declined.

        Its not the Qualifying format that the muppets need to change – are they really that far out of touch?

      2. Agreed, this seems right on the money. If we are having a 2-5% drop in qualifying viewership whats the % drop per year for race figures, if its the same or worse then qualifying is not the problem.

      3. and I wonder how different those numbers could be if they were to take in account the illegal streaming that I’m sure plenty of people use to see the race

    5. As much as Formula E’s CEO would like to talk up his series, it is worth bearing in mind that FE has exclusivity on an all-electric series until 2039, so there’s no talk of F1 going electric for another two decades.

      Taking a step back from this squabble, there is at least one person who doesn’t care how this plays out. John Malone, is chairman of Liberty Global, which owns a stake in FE, and he is also chairman of F1’s Liberty Media. He’s the smart guy in a win-win situation :-)

    6. re: F1 Broadcasting Blog tweet – two questions:
      – how do these three years compare to years prior? This format’s been around since 2010 with only some tweaking so we’re skipping most of its presence this way, it may as well turn out that the noted decrease in viewership is the same decrease we see all across the board anyway and it’s not directly related to the quali format itself
      – how does it compare to the rest of the world? UK is sure a major market, but it’s far from the only one, let’s not fixate ourselves.

    7. Once upon a time there was no such thing as an internal combustion engine, everyone used to use horse power to get around

      Did this die out with the introduction of the cars? No, horse racing is as popular today as ever, so why do people think we’ll stop racing petrol engines with the introduction of batteries

      Get a grip Reuters, this is entertainment and there will ALWAYS be interest in ICE’s because electric racing sounds TERRIBLE

    8. Gil de Ferran is right. Of all the aspects of F1 I think qualifying is the format they have most right. We get an hour of track action that gradually builds up to a frantic dash for pole position. There’s the occasional upset that comes about organically rather than some contrived attempt at spicing up the show and we almost always get the fastest drivers duking it out. Unlike a race where you can know the result from lap one, in qualifying you can’t be certain of the result until the last lap is finished.

      I know some drivers end up sitting sessions out, but the latest format ensures that’s done in Q2 rather than Q3, and that problem stems from the component restriction rules which aren’t a fault with the format.

    9. De Ferran sure does have a lot of opinions about what F1 should not do.

    10. Keith – do @username style of notifications not function when the person commenting is not registered? Does it notify the targeted user only for registered users?

      1. They don’t work for unregistered users no

    11. I suggest we change qualifying as follows:
      Q1: drivers qualify by beating only their teammates.
      Q2: slower Q1 teammates qualify for spots 11-20;
      Q3: faster Q1 teammates qualify for pole to P10

      – this is one of the few ways to ‘celebrate’ the driver rather than just the car.
      – we get weekly overtaking races like Verstappen in Sochi.
      – Q1 will finally be exciting; all drivers will have to go twice.
      – Q2 will be a competition throughout the field to get the best starting position, rather than 3 teams just savng tyres.

      1. You’ll instead see a bunch of #2s sitting out Q1, or putting in a pathetic banker lap since there are only 2 positions being fought for in Q1 (“faster” and “slower”) and relative differences between different teams don’t matter. Kimi, Bottas, Vandoorne, etc. And that’s not even considering engine penalties.

        At least now, every driver knocked out of Q1 and Q2 knows that their best effort counts to their track position.

        But I do like one aspect of the idea, in that it will make things much more competitive between drivers when team orders aren’t at play (e.g. FI, Renault, RBR).

        1. That competitive bit between teammates is why I like this, @phylyp
          And I would hope that Bottas and Raikkonen have sufficient self respect on Saturday to at least try to beat their respective teammates.

          But if Mercedes and Ferrari went to do their team orders then I’d rather see that on Saturday than on Sunday (Bottas from position 10 will struggle much harder to bend over for His team’s wishes than from say P2)

      2. Come to think of it, @coldfly, I’d tweak your format slightly, by combining the purpose of Q1 and Q2. Q1 – the slower driver from each time starts from P11-P20, order determined by their Q1 position. Q2 will be the 10 faster drivers shooting out for pole.

        However, this would be quite the antithesis of the rumoured goal for Liberty – to increase ad breaks.

      3. @coldfly

        My method for naturally (and I think fairly) mixing up the grid order and getting to see comparative driver skill would be to have two qualifying sessions as below, and the grid based on the average of the two lap times.

        1) A 30 min free-for-all session with car and driver setting the best lap they possibly can
        2) A 30 min free-for-all session with drivers in identical (super) cars.

        The identical cars could be supplied by local-to-the-track car manufactures to give them publicity.
        They would not be able to be touched by the teams, just ensured to be within set parameters by an impartial party.

        This would give an opportunity for drivers in slower teams to showcase their skill and potentially improve their starting position and fairly mix up the grid a little, plus we can see who the best one-lap drivers really are.

      4. I think traffic on laps in Q1 would be too significant a problem for this proposal to work. I mean its bad enough as it is at some tracks but at least the top teams don’t need to be out there too long which eases the pressure. If no driver is safe you increase the traffic over the session. Also the way the format works means that getting even slightly blocked on your laps is much more likely to mean going out in Q1. Just feels like too much of a lottery vs actually “celebrating the driver” as you would like.

    12. I couldn’t agree more with De Ferran. Finally, someone from inside the F1 paddock who gets it. On the other hand, I disagree with the F1 Broadcasting blog-tweet. The figures concern something other than the qualifying format itself.
      I can also agree with the COTD although I, of course, hope for the best, and am more confident now that it’s actually going to work out compared to the last three seasons.

    13. The headline could also be:

      F1 shouldn’t change qualifying format – Everyone

    14. I like the qualifying format. It gives you a sense that most of time the fastest guys reach the top positions, and that’s what I expect. Perhaps I should decrease the total time given for each “Q” session. The gap between the first and second qualifying laps within a session is what bothers me a lot. Just let them to do one lap, go to pit and try immediately for their last chance.

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