Kevin Magnussen, Haas, Bahrain International Circuit, 2019

Q4 change aimed at increasing TV viewers – Steiner

2020 F1 season

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Haas team principal Guenther Steiner says a new ‘Q4’ session has been proposed for the 2020 F1 season to increase viewers during qualifying.

The plan would shorten Q1, Q2 and Q3, and eliminate four drivers at each round instead of five. Steiner said F1 bosses believe the plan will “mix it up” in qualifying and encourage viewers to watch more of the action. “It seems like a lot of the TV audience is switching on in Q2,” he explained. “They don’t watch in Q1.”

Teams have been asked to look into whether the current tyre allocation is sufficient for them to be able to participate in an extra round of qualifying. “We have got some concerns with the tyres and there needs to be some studies done,” said Steiner.

Failing to ensure the midfield teams have enough tyres to participate in Q4 could mean “the big three have got an advantage instead of a ‘mixing up’ happening,” warned Steiner.

However he is broadly supportive of the plan. “I think in principle the idea is not bad: having shorter sessions and people can mess up [and be eliminated].”

“Everyone is working on a little bit of a summary of what can happen and then send it to Ross [Brawn] and see what they’re going to do. We just need to make sure that we don’t get it wrong because the qualifying system at the moment is not bad.”

“If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it,” he added.

Read @DieterRencen’s in-depth interview with Haas team principal – and the surprise star of Netflix’s Driver to Survive – Guenther Steiner in today’s RacingLines column on RaceFans

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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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  • 43 comments on “Q4 change aimed at increasing TV viewers – Steiner”

    1. Great plan ““It seems like a lot of the TV audience is switching on in Q2,” he explained. “They don’t watch in Q1.””
      FIA solution is adding another session – like that is going to increase people interest to watch Q1.

      1. Pedro Andrade
        10th April 2019, 8:46

        @jelle-van-der-meer exactly, now those who switched on in Q2 will start to only switch on Q3…

        1. I agree, it is the modern attention span, the instant gratification clamour of today’s younger audience. Sadly encouraged by and the responsibility of media giants like Liberty, who both create the demand and then have to fulfil it. “We just wanna see who gets pole!” (No patience to watch the three sessions, just the last couple of laps will do!)
          Unfortunately the rest of the grid is immaterial to them, as are tyre strategy aero settings temperature, fuel loads etc.
          No Q4 is best left to Spike Milligan the originator of it. (You probably have to be British and old, to appreciate that)

          1. Spike Milligan’s show was called ‘Q6’. With F1 behind a paywall, I just watch the hi-lights if I remember. They know exactly what to do to increase viewership. But people are willing to pay them not to…

        2. Exactly, it will just mean that the real action will start even later and ppl will tune in only for Q3 and Q4

    2. Shorter sessions won’t hurt the top teams. They don’t need to go out twice if they mess up a lap. They will quickly adapt their strategy for Q1 and Q2 and fill up to do various laps (like Hamilton in Bahrain in Q1). If they mess up one lap it’s a cool down and another try.
      Smaller teams who need to qualify with empty tanks will feel the time pressure to get the car out twice.

    3. Would that really make a difference, though? I doubt it.

      “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it,” – And yet he’s still ‘broadly supportive’ of the plan.

    4. More sessions = more ad breaks. Doubt its aimed at fans.

      1. This won’t necesarily mean more ad breaks.
        They could reduce the qualifying sessions to 90 seconds and eliminate the break in between.
        Maybe just have a break after he first 5 cars are eliminated, have a 6min ‘warm up’ and start a second set of exciting 90sec non-stop qualifying sessions.
        And similar for the top-10 shoot out.

        I’m sure fans will love this ;)

        1. PS only 1 car is eliminated after every 90sec ‘session’! Get it? ;)

          1. There is an argument for a slowest driver is eliminated knock out affair. Like you get in some driving games – would certainly guarantee on track action.

      2. More ads are exactly aimed at fans. It’s our consumer duty to dutifully watch each and everyone and buy the slop they pitch at us from look-alike pudgy SUVs to junk-food created to make us pudgy.

    5. Bjornar Simonsen
      10th April 2019, 10:24

      – Nothing to with sporting aspects
      – Will have zero effect on viewers
      – It isn’t broken so please don’t “fix” it

      What’s wrong with these people!? So sick of this. The focus is on the wrong things. Make the sporting aspects better, then maybe more people will come. Simply adding another qualy session will do absolutely squat. Zero. Nothing.

      1. Bjornar Simonsen
        10th April 2019, 10:27

        People will always increasingly tune in as it gets closer to final session. Not everyone has the time to tune in instantly, I know that happens to me a lot, not everyone remembers etc, and some only want’s to see who get’s pole. A Q4 will change nothing about this.

    6. “It seems like a lot of the TV audience is switching on in Q2…”

      (a) Who the heck are these people?
      (b) Should we be pandering to them?
      (c) Who says adding an extra session to qualifying will make these people watch the whole session.
      (d) “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it,” he added.” Indeed. Qualifying is perfect, leave it alone.

      1. A:Me. My weekends are too busy to sit around watching as much f1 as I’d like… and I’m not even that busy…
        B:We? Why we? You aren’t doing anything for me. Liberty is giving their audience what it wants.
        C:Nobody, fair point.
        D:Nothing is perfect in this world, embrace change or get steam rolled by it.

      2. a. Me too. I will watch the first couple qualifiers of the season and then rarely after that. I will always skip to Q3 when I do watch qualifying. Now I will skip to Q4 which will be the same for me. So your point is correct that there is no point adding a session to get more viewers. This seems like a symptom of there being less time/money for people to spend and more places for people to spend it. Liberty is just trying to extract what is left any way they can.

    7. We don’t need Q4. I don’t even watch Q1 anymore. If they add a Q4, will not watch 1&2, simple as that.

    8. brilliant lets just have one huge Q1 etc

    9. Looks like a Fait Accompli to me. It shows a company a little desperate to lift the paying audience. More razzamatazz more look over there.
      I think the aero changes slated for 2021 look good so far, still not comfortable with the $ cap. I remain some what cynical to Libertys commitment to F1 other than a short term cash cow.

    10. In a few years we will have Q19 where one driver goes out in each session and the a final shoot out. The people they are so concerned about will still only tune in to the last two sessions. Just get rid of the silly tyre rule, it only affects those who qualify in 9th and 10th.

    11. I am surprised I am still surprised by the level of stupidity shown by decision-makers…

      Hey, geniuses, want to increase TV-viewer numbers?
      Get rid of your paywall!

      1. My gosh … you are a genius. Why didn’t anyone mention that before? Oh, wait …
        Is it because we don’t get paid millions per year that we all get ignored?

    12. “Hey guys, we found the one part of Formula 1 nobody seems to complain about. Let’s make it different for no reason”

    13. Wait, there are FOUR qualifying segments? HECK YEAH, time to pay that HUGE sportspackage i have no interest in other than F1 and that is way over priced 11111elven11

    14. Go back to FTA instead of PayTv and that will increase the audience. It ain’t rocket science.

    15. I don’t mind the idea. I also don’t mind if they change nothing. But for me, a Q4 would add more urgency to each session and we would have less of drivers taking their time coming out, doing a run, then going back in and sitting around until closer to the end of the session to do another run. Ie. less down time for them and for us viewers, and more on-track action.

      Anyway, I respect that they are studying this and considering it carefully before making a decision. They may well find it is not feasible or necessary, or they may find they can make it work. I can’t see how it would ‘break’ what is not broken, and even things that do not need fixing can still be improved.

      1. Glad to see a glass half full view, @robbie.

        To me though a Q4 would get rid of the nice flow we have today: Q3 – who are the ‘losers’; Q2 – who are the heroes of F1.5; Q1 – who is on pole.
        Not sure which question I should ask during that added session.

        1. Got my Q queue wrong :(

    16. It allows them to have an extra ad break.

      1. Or worse, another between Q sessions Krofty & Co babblefest.

    17. What they could do is put qualifying (in its current format) on youtube for free, to attract new fans and generate interest in the sport.

    18. When will they listen to the fans? We want a Q5!

    19. This is just senseless if that is the reasoning. Just drag it out longer and people will just tune in later, maybe not at all.

      How about 2 sessions. 30 minutes free running and slowest 10 get put out. Helps track to rubber in. Give each remaining driver a ONE SHOT quali lap that they must get right and have them in descending order from 10th fastest to quickest from the first session. This gives more incentive to be quickest so you can have your lap last which is usually a quicker time to go. Would also add excitement for weather changes as some top drivers might not get up so high.

    20. I would give my left nut to go back to a 1hr session, 12 laps each, 4 sets of tyres with 2 sets being taken away at the 30 minute mark (to ensure we get action early on). So sick of all these mindless changes that add nothing to the show. I don’t even like the current format because we don’t get to see many laps in Q3 due to everyone doing their lap at the exact same time.

      1. I’ll give my right and they’d have a full set for that.

    21. Forgive me for sounding like a broken record, but how about taking F1 back off Sky TV in the UK to increase TV viewers ten-fold there overnight. How on earth a Q4 is going to increase viewership God knows. The phrase ‘re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic’ springs to mind.

    22. Forcing people to be “caught up” and eliminated from any of the stages is gimmicky at best. It’s, in essence, what elimination qualifying intended to do. And it was a disaster.

      I’m going to repeat myself and say that if they are just adding another stage it makes no sense… if they want to do a Q4 superpole, I’m all for it.

    23. How about a one lap shoot out for everyone in a random order for the first 30 mins. Giving all cars equal track and screen time.

      Of which the top ten go through to another one lap shoot out.

    24. The irony is that should Steiner get any cars into the Q4, they would likely not even run. Why would they.?
      After a couple of races with only 4, maybe 5 cars running in the final session, they will either come up with a bunch more punitive rules or scrap it.
      Will be fun listening to all the experts at the time and the pundits with the ITYS.

    25. This all feels immaterial considering most viewers in the UK are watching on highlights rather than live. So not sure how this will attract any more viewers.

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