Christian Horner, Red Bull, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019

Horner wary new Q4 session could be “change for the sake of change”

2020 F1 season

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says proposals to introduce a new fourth round to qualifying sessions in the 2020 F1 season must not be “change for the sake of change”.

Teams have been asked to give their input to help shape the planned change to the qualifying format which could be agreed by the end of this month. However there are concerns the restriction on tyre supply could present a problem for some teams.

RaceFans asked Horner and Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto in Bahrain for their opinion of the proposed change. Horner said his team are “running the numbers” and agreed tyre allocations are a potential sticking point.

“It feels like we’re a little bit short on tyres at a first look at that four sets in qualifying,” he said.

“I think with anything like that what you have to understand is what you don’t want to end up is with cars not running in Q4 because they’ve not got enough tyres left,” Horner explained. “Are there enough tyres to support the initiative.

“We’re open to any ideas but I think you have to really do your homework to make sure that we don’t just change for the sake of change,” he added. “What is the purpose of the change, and change for something better.”

However Binotto believes the new rules can be introduced without creating unwanted side-effects.

“We already started the simulations so it’s something which we are working [on]. We discussed that as well in London [in the March 26th meeting], we discussed it again this weekend.

“So I think that yes we are positive by the time the simulation are done properly and we are sure we are not introducing any problems, any issues. Now we are expecting the latest wording, what’s the proposed format, and then go through it.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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20 comments on “Horner wary new Q4 session could be “change for the sake of change””

  1. For once i agree with what Horner says.
    Having four qualifying sessions would give almost zero importance to Q1 especially with how Williams are performing at the moment.
    This idea vindicates what Sebastian said earlier–“Formula One is now more a show and a business than a sport.”

  2. They shouldn’t simulate the tyre usage but s(t)imulate the fan excitement.
    I’m a huge F1 fan, but a fourth quali does not excite me at all. Three works just fine for me: the first is to see who is slowest; the second to find the winners in F1.5; and the last to see who is on pole.

    More sessions seems a sliding scale to the failed idea to have 1 car eliminated every minute.

    1. Agree, the format is actually working pretty well. Quite fair and not too long, and building up nicely to pole shootout.

    2. Yeah, I am with you guys there @jeanrien, @coldfly, the only thing i see this will bring is another add break. And that is nothing that interests fans!

  3. Pedro Andrade
    5th April 2019, 7:48

    Agree with everything said, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

  4. I’d say that Q4 can only be considered if the grid swells to a full complement of 13 teams, so as to retain the final shootout as one between 10 cars. Now seeing that as that isn’t happening anytime soon, I’d say let’s do that – tie Q4 to the introduction of 3 new teams :)

    1. I would be slightly less opposed if we had 13 teams, but still not adding anything to the show.

      Note though that the sporting regulations are written so there is always a top 10 Q3. For any team entering one more car will be eliminated in both Q1 and Q2.

    2. If the team count does swell, then why not use the MotoGP styles of qualifying format? Its not messy and rather much better than this proposed Q4 stupidity.

  5. F1 rules decision making architecture = A kid who keeps switching video games after playing 5mins?

  6. I couldn’t agree more with him. F1 has always seemed to have this obsession with changing things that already work adequately well just for the sake of change, and even more so since LM came onboard, which shouldn’t be the approach. An alteration of something should only happen if there’s an absolute need and or a valid argument to do so, which definitely doesn’t apply to the qualifying format, not even close to it. Regarding the tyres; The current number of sets per weekend is fine, any more than that would just increase the likelihood of left-over sets that would then never get used, which I definitely don’t understand at all. What’s the point to make something (in this case tyres) if it isn’t going to be used for the purpose it’s been made for in the first place?

  7. If they want to improve Quali they just need to make it more competitive, times aren’t nearly close and beyond the top two teams shooting for pole nothing beyond that even matters or is worth watching. The only genuinely decent Quali sessions in the current hybrid era have been when they’ve had mixed conditions.

  8. I Just don’t get it! The current qualifying format is probaby the only thing we don’t hear complaints about from either teams or fans (aside from the Q2 tyre rule). It builds nicely from the start up until the crescendo as the Q3 clock ticks 0 and the last gasp laps are completed.

    I can’t see what adding a 4th session brings to either the spectacle or the sporting side of things. Leaving aside that we want more teams, the current numbers add up (5,5,10) make sense and are easy to explain to the casual viewer/fan. Even my 5 year old understands how it works. Nobody wants to change it and I am sure I am not the only one who experiences a sense of dread when I hear the words ‘changes proposed to the qualifying format’.

    1. robinsonf1 (@)
      5th April 2019, 11:42

      @asanator I agree. I think Q4 is just another excuse for an advert break.

  9. Why not get rid of qualifying and replace it with a draw using a heap of A list celebrities in a 1 – 2 hour show.

    Just think of the entertainment we’ll all get….. long introductions to a A lister who can babble inanely on about how they love F1 and their favourite driver (and then demonstrate that they know nothing about it) coupled with a celebrity sticking a michrophone under the drivers nose asking “well Lewis… abut unlucky drawing position 19… how do you think the race will pan out from there”

    Covers all the bases. fans will love seeing celebrities, it’ll be relatively inexpensive and fist right in to Liberty’s “show”

    Using A list celebrities. What a great idea… Oh wait….

    1. robinsonf1 (@)
      5th April 2019, 11:44

      @dbradock Keep quiet! LM might hear you and take it seriously!

  10. More sessions could work if they let the teams buy extra sets of tyres for qualifying. Poor teams don’t make it to the final part anyway and the top teams will do more runs.

  11. Step right up, get your NEW IMPROVED F1 cereal today. Now with EXTRA QUALIFIER in every box!

  12. Bring back qualifying tyre and use it for qualifying only.
    5 Q1 drivers start the race on C4.
    5 Q2 drivers start the race on C3.
    5 Q3 drivers start the race on C2.
    5 Q4 drivers start the race on C1.
    A recipe for 1st lap carnage.

  13. Like many others have said, the current Qualifying method works, everyone … sorry, most people understand it, and you get a good result. That said, say Liberty Media desperately DO actually need another Qualifying round for some marketing or political reason. So one thought would be to split Q1 into 2 sessions, say or the last 15 in the previous race go first in Q1A and the first 15 in the previous race go in Q1B. This would reduce the number of cars on the track, which hopefully would make it safer from the point of view of some cars doing warm up laps, some doing hot laps, and some doing cooldown laps. Same process on elimination.

  14. Dear F1,

    Remember that last time when you tried to change the qualifying format? How did that work out for everyone?

    Yes, we understand that was a different regime and not the totally embarrassing result of this current regime who may not be willing to learn a lesson from the former. But, you really should.

    It’s kind of like fixing a car. It has a flat tire, so you paint the car a different color. There, all better!


    99.999% of all fans, teams, drivers…

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