No change to qualifying in 2020 as ‘Q4’ plan fails to find support

2020 F1 season

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The 2020 F1 season will not feature a fourth stage during qualifying sessions as plans to revise the Saturday format failed to find support.

The proposal to overhaul qualifying sessions would have seen four drivers eliminated in Q1, Q2 and Q3, leaving eight to compete for pole position in a new, 10-minute shoot-out at the end.

However the 2020 Formula 1 Sporting Regulations, published today by the FIA, reveal the existing three-stage qualifying session is to be retained.

RaceFans understands team principals were largely ambivalent to the plan, but were reluctant to support changing a system which they believe is working well.

F1 teams were asked by the sport’s rulemakers to simulate the proposed change, and discovered it could put midfield teams at a disadvantage, as they would be likely to exhaust their supply of soft tyres in order to reach Q4. Supplying additional tyres would increase costs by an estimated $1 million, at a time when the sport is looking for ways to save money.

As previously revealed by RaceFans, F1’s commercial rights holder Liberty Media was in favour of the plan to introduce Q4 as the extra qualifying stage would permit at least one extra advertising break, making the session more valuable for broadcasters.

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2020 F1 season

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Author information

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...
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...

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  • 15 comments on “No change to qualifying in 2020 as ‘Q4’ plan fails to find support”

    1. RaceFans understands team principals were largely ambivalent to the plan, but were reluctant to support changing a system which they believe is working well.

      Got it in one line there! Qualifying is the thing that is working very well for everyone so far. Why change something that’s not broken?

      1. @adamgoh – Because it is easier to make random changes that no one is asking for than it is to address actual areas of concern; i.e. distraction.

      2. I am happy that ambivalence prevailed!

      3. Your answer:

        F1’s commercial rights holder Liberty Media was in favour of the plan to introduce Q4 as the extra qualifying stage would permit at least one extra advertising break, making the session more valuable for broadcasters.

    2. No surprises here…

    3. It doesn’t matter how interesting the qualifying is if the same three teams incessantly dominate the final stages. That’s what’s broken.

    4. Common sense has prevailed. Furthermore, once again, not all the TV channels broadcasting F1 feature commercial breaks ‘during’ their programming so that a fourth segment would make zero difference to all those channels. The last paragraph can give a misleading idea to some that every single channel in the world would feature ad breaks during their programs even when it’s far from the truth.

    5. F1 teams were asked by the sport’s rulemakers to simulate the proposed change, and discovered it could put midfield teams at a disadvantage, as they would be likely to exhaust their supply of soft tyres in order to reach Q4.

      I’m happy it was decided in this manner, rather than Bernie’s seat-of-the-pants approach.

    6. I already commented on this in the previous similar article.

      While the decision itself can be considered “good”, it doesn’t change the fact that they wanted to push through this change WITHOUT properly analysing the necessity of such change and opinion of fans and actually anyone (bar themselves).

      They “decided” against only after engaging their brains, but way later than it should have taken place.

      And we must NOT be grateful to them for averting their own mess up.

    7. LM wanted it, teams didn’t, and it is not happening. … so does that tell everyone who makes the rules and where the real power lies.

    8. This time… I won’t be surprised if its gets another look at in a few years.

      There’s a hundred and one others things they can improve before they mess with qualy.

    9. I’ve said this before, but there’s one aspect I don’t like about the current system, and that is that you rarely see a full qualifying lap, unless it is someone doing their lap during a lull. Instead, what you mostly get is a shot straight down the main straight, waiting for a car to emerge out of the last corner and drive towards a finish line you can’t see, while looking at the clock on screen to see if they didn’t balls up the final sector. Unless you are watching with live timing on another screen, you rely on the commentators relaying that someone has gone purple in the first two sectors.

      I propose switching out Q3 with a top ten shootout, starting with the person who positioned 10th in Q2. Should take about the same amount of time if set up right. You then get to see every bit of every flying lap of the top 10, with each driver seeking to beat the previous best lap.

      To make things go quickly, release the next car from pit lane as soon as the previous driver passes pit exit on their flying lap, and have an automatic penalty for impeding if you are caught by a driver on their lap. That should make drivers very promptly complete their out/in laps.

      1. @davids I’ve always found single car/lap qualifying to be quite dull be it if it’s the whole field as F1 was doing in 2003-2005 or just the top 10.

        The way it is now you may not see every lap or every sector time but the excitement builds over the final minutes & you often don’t know who’s on pole & what the other places are until the final seconds as the order changes as each car crosses the line.

        With single lap qualifying you lose a lot of that & the final moments pretty much always tend to be rather anti-climactic, Especially if you can see from sector 1 that the car on track isn’t going to trouble the fast times.

    10. Ah shame /s

    Comments are closed.