Drivers, Sochi Autodrom, 2019

“It would be really boring”: More drivers rubbish plan for qualifying races

2020 F1 season

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A proposal to trial qualifying races at some rounds of the 2020 F1 season continues to find little favour with drivers.

Speaking in today’s FIA press conference Lance Stroll warned the idea of using a short race or races on Saturdays may not produce exciting action.

“I think it would be a shame to see the current [qualifying] format disappear,” said Stroll. “It’s very exciting, the fans love it.

“Especially in today’s Formula 1 a short, 25-lap race would be really boring to watch, in my opinion. Today’s Formula 1 races depend on strategy which a 25-lap race wouldn’t really offer. So I think it would just be a train from start to finish and that would take away some of the excitement from the sport.”

Valtteri Bottas echoed Stroll’s view that it would be “a real shame to lose proper qualifying”.

“I think all the drivers really enjoy pushing the car to the limit for that one lap in qualifying,” he added. “I find it very enjoyable so would be a shame.”

Formula 1 is planning new regulations for the 2021 F1 season to allow the cars to race together more closely. Daniil Kvyat said this will have a greater impact on the racing than changing the qualifying format.

“It sounds just like a short fix to a bigger problem which is just that we need to try and bring the teams closer competition-wise,” he said. “There’s still a big gap between the top three teams and the rest of the field and if we could have five or six teams competing for a podium and a win I think would be just a lot more exciting racing as well.

“Now this year there was many exciting races of course but I still think that’s the main issue and if it’s a short-term fix, these races, then so be it, we have to do it of course. But I think the bigger picture needs to be sort more than that. ”

Kimi Raikkonen, the most experienced driver in F1 at the moment, said he preferred the qualifying format which was used when he first came into the sport 18 years ago.

“It depends obviously how they would do it but probably the qualifying can be more exciting than a short race,” he said.

“If I would change I would go back to where it was from when started, one hour time and I think there was three sets of tyres and 12 laps, do when you want those. Over the years there’s been many different ways of doing it and I don’t honestly know if it really changed the end result an awful lot.”

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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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31 comments on ““It would be really boring”: More drivers rubbish plan for qualifying races”

  1. F1 needs both, a reverse wdc position grid sprint race and qualifying as it is now, both test for different skills. Different skills that a wdc should possess in great amounts.

    Turn Fp3 into a reverse wdc position grid sprint race and combine it’s results with qualifying, as it is now, to establish the grid for the grand prix on Sunday.

    1. @megatron – In my opinion, the last thing we need is more arcane rules and algorithms for simple parts of the weekend/season.

      I’m open to changes to the current qualifying system if they improve something, but a huge benefit of the current system is that it is not difficult to understand—for the most part. The tires used in Q2 issue is not the most intuitive, but aside from that, it is pretty simple.

      To me, anything that replaces the current system needs to be as clear as the current system, not more complicated.

      1. Maybe not to combine both, but do have both. The short race as a championship point race too

        1. No points should ever be awarded to a reverse grid sprint race.

      2. If averaging 2 numbers and then putting the drivers in lowest to highest score rank is to difficult for you then I would suggest F1 is too complicated for you.

        Or you could just wait till they announce the grid on tv.

        1. @megatron – Except that’s not what I said.

          Making qualifying dependent on the results of a reverse grid sprint (already a “why are they doing this?” situation) and combining that with a standard qualifying session, would require people to tune in twice.

          I’m not saying that we have to cater to people who do not now and will never care about F1. But making it more difficult for current fans and actual prospective fans to participate in live events is a bad idea, in my opinion. And expecting people to tune into two sessions on Saturday rather than the one we have now, is asking for people to miss out and potentially tune out.

          Occam’s razor should be applied to F1 race weekends, and it’s pretty close to efficient right now.

          1. @hobo
            The biggest reason they are looking at changing qually is because the tracks are empty on Saturday, and also tv numbers for Saturday are weak. That is the entire reason why “knock out qually” was installed at the 11th hour a couple years ago. The majority of tickets sold for Saturday go unused and the tracks are losing revenue because of it. A reverse wdc position grid sprint race would give people mich more reason to get to the track on Saturday than the current 10 minutes of action during qually. Nobody is really interested in fp3.

            They can run both a sprint race and qually on Saturday and it will massively increase track and tv spectator numbers immediately.

            If both events are close enough together they could bridge them with a highlight show and further increase ad revenue.

    2. Combining results would be terrible – you wouldn’t know who’s winning until you’ve calculated it.

      Just have normal qualifying in some GPs, and reverse grid qualifying races in other GPs. It’ll be exciting.

      1. No, combine the results of the sprint race and qualifying to set the grid for the race.

        The only calculation needed is before the race starts.

  2. Pure sport can be entertaining; pure entertainment isn’t sport.

  3. Dear F1, FIA, Liberty…

    Read our lips: NO NEW QUALY!

    1. What do you mean “our” lips? I desperately want any new qualy. I don’t even care which one, just please different from the borefest we have right now. Every race weekend, the same drivers out in Q1, the same drivers out in Q2, one single minute that actually matters in Q3. It’s so terrible, the worst format that F1 has ever used.

      So please F1, FIA, Liberty: NEW QUALY!

      1. @keithcollantine I believe we need a poll on the best qualifying format (unless we’ve already had one, which is a possibility). if you do one, can it be a ranked poll, rather than a single-option? for me, the best i’ve seen are the 12-laps in 1 hour and the current system. the advantage of the current system is that it sustains the excitement (usually) through the session, while the advantage of the 12laps/1hour format was that it ramped up the excitement, and you had more chance of a freak result, especially if the weather changed.

        all the other formats have been duds, though i didn’t mind the single-lap shoot out because there was plenty of pressure to get it right. it was too formulaic though, no chance of strategising the session. unfortunately we also had qualifying fuel at that time, so it lost of a bit of the gladiatorial feel that we have in Q3 now.

      2. Yeah, I used to watch the entire quali when it was 12 laps in one hour, now I just watch the last minutes of each round. Maybe today everything would be optimised for 4 flying laps, but back in the day sometimes a driver would botch the flying lap and stay out for another try, changing the number of attempts possible (considering out and in laps, weather conditions and fuel loads).

        Not sure if reverse grids would work or be entertaining, but I sure wouldn’t mind them trying out at a few rounds.

  4. Just race on proper racing circuits

  5. Want a great race on Saturday? Properly promote and broadcast the support races.

    Which I get is a mess of contracts and would be far more work than just changing qually.

  6. I’m hearing that qualifying races are most likely at Bahrain, Shanghai, Spa & COTA as they are considered circuits where overtaking would be easier for the top guys starting at the back of the qualifying race which would be run in reverse championship order.

    Under the proposal of a reverse grid qualifying race there would be no traditional qualifying session which would essentially also mean no real low fuel running over the weekend given how there would be no session in which they will need to push for one lap ultimate lap times.

    1. Also on why this is been considered.

      There looking at data that shows that a lot of younger fans aren’t tuning in to watch the full GP on Sunday due to other distractions taking there attention away making it harder for them to be in front of a screen watching a GP for 90-120 minutes.

      The hope from Liberty is that if you have a shorter race on Saturday you will encourage those viewers to tune in & not lose engagement during a shorter race. They know that the likelihood is that most of those viewers still won’t watch the full GP on Sunday which is why they don’t want to alter the main race.

      They also know that this idea is massively unpopular with traditional/long term fans but are willing to upset them if it means bringing in more more casual viewers.

      Somebody in the Indycar paddock over the weekend said ‘Maybe they should ask nascar or even the IRL how that approach worked for them’. Alluding to the fact that both nascar & Tony George were willing to sacrifice long time viewers to attract younger one’s & just ended up with neither because the changes put off most of the already dedicated fans while most of the more casual viewers they tried to attract also didn’t stick around.

      1. Another way to put it is that F1 has become boring and only those fans who find this boring type of racing interesting have remained.
        If F1 wants to regain the lost fans (or attract new ones), it should NOT listen to current fans, who are extremely conservative and reject pretty much any change (until it’s actually there, then noone minds anymore; cfr the halo).

  7. “Especially in today’s Formula 1 a short, 25-lap race would be really boring to watch, in my opinion. Today’s Formula 1 races depend on strategy which a 25-lap race wouldn’t really offer. So I think it would just be a train from start to finish and that would take away some of the excitement from the sport.”

    Spot on! Sprint races are supposed to be full of excitement and action because there’s a need to make up positions for the Feature race. But if the cars cannot overtake anyway, and there’s no room for strategy because it’s such a short race, it’ll be the dullest thing ever. Not to mention drivers not wanting to risk it everything because points are awarded in the Feature race.

    I find this whole thing more disappointing than anything else over the years. We were promised a change, a revolution in F1. And they are trying to do that for 2021. Yet they are pushing forwards with the same talk about gimmicks (and some being implemented) that we all suffered during “the evil years” of Bernie.

    1. “But if the cars cannot overtake anyway” – even in Monaco Verstappen had no problem overtaking lots of cars when he had to start from the back. So you’re using an entirely fictional scenario to reject this idea.

      That being said, these reverse grid qualifying would work best on tracks with good overtaking, and it would be a fair compromise to keep single lap qualifying (but hopefully in a more exciting format than what we have now) on half the tracks where overtaking is hardest.

      1. @krommenaas, we have also seen Verstappen crashing out of the race when he eventually pushed too hard and overdid it – as, indeed, has been the fate of most drivers who have driven that aggressively around Monaco.

  8. Kvyat nailed it. The problem isn’t qualifying so why waste time and energy trying to fix what isn’t broken. To me this is a sign that the F1 leadership are grasping at straws and they aren’t really confident that the 2021 changes will work.

  9. Two shorter races instead of one, is ok.
    Short races as qualifying, without awarding some good amount of chamiponship points is maybe forcing participants too much to the safe side, and there will be few actions at qualy races. So current format is better. U see they are already racing agains teammates at qualy, or trying to slipstream in a 15 car pack at F3 :DD These moments were more exciting than a car saving qualy not awarding points.
    But there is problem with shorter races too: if ther is not a single pitstop, then what ll mix it up? The current tyres are very durable, they just wont get worn out at a short race.

  10. Why are the FIA messing with (yes, opinion) the most consistently entertaining part of what is allegedly their top series?
    Why are there even the quietest whispers, let alone headlines, regarding F1 adopting a sprint race format in any context?
    Why are the FIA being allowed to treat an entire championship season as a trial run?
    Will said experimental season have the same validity as others?

    Where does Liberty stand in this maelstrom of regulatory nonsense?
    Why is Todt being allowed to screw around with a commercial venture when he’s allegedly just the head of its sporting regulatory body?
    Where has Brawn’s usual clarity gone?

    This entire chain of asterisks show is absolutely maddening, and we’re really not far away from next season at all.

    How can the FIA (yes, I have an issue with Todt :) ) be allowed to muck around with this stuff like a deranged child with a chemistry set seemingly on a whim every single time? How do Liberty feel about not knowing what they’ll even be selling next season because of a third party arbitrarily changing game plans to suit seemingly absolutely no-one?

    And finally, just what are WE supposed to be looking forward to? Does anybody in the hallowed halls of the alleged governing bodies know, or care?

    Really hoping it rains on Saturday at Sochi so we have a fun qualy…it might even dampen enthusiasm for messing with the qualifying format by certain adderall-prescripted diminutive Frenchmen…

  11. I actually think reverse grid sprint for qualy is a good idea. It would force engineers to create cars so that they can actually follow each other close and overtake to get a better position on race day.

    Till we figure out the cost cap & bringing the teams closer in terms of performance this is the best way to get things fairer.

    The only thing though is, I do like the Q3 qualy laps.

  12. I my opinion, there is a way to “fix” Saturday’s if they need fixing and it’s really nothing to do with the F1 Racing program.

    In too many venues, there’s a really poor support program which does little for the paying patrons. Because of that there’s also no real focus on the televised part of the day either, other than a “lead up” with various commentators rabbiting on about drivers, potential driver rumours etc.

    First up – write a need for a proper support program into the contracts for the race promoters. Haven’t got one… fine no more races there.
    Secondly, why not consider doing what motogp does – have all 3 series compete at every race venue. It’s too expensive? Then cut down the number of races so it’s affordable for all 3 series.
    Thirdly, adjust your broadcasts to include the support programs and raise the profile of those series.

    Fix that and maybe you’ll stop messing about with the one thing that’s currently working and actually show that you’re really considering improvement rather that fiddling about with something that seems to have no real traction with drivers, teams or fans.

    I like that Liberty/FIA and whoever else is coming up with ideas are actually thinking about possible ways of “improving” but the fact that these thoughts seem to be “inside the box” and not particularly far reaching are beginning to annoy me.

  13. Not that I think there is that much that is broken about F1 qualifying but – one thing that the Supercar series does really well in Australia is the Top 10 shootout.
    Basically there is the normal weeding out until you are down to 10 cars (similar to current F1), but then in the final session you have each car coming out 1 at a time doing a single warm up lap and then 1 hot lap.
    As a TV spectacle It works really well because you are really engaged with that 1 driver’s hot lap and sector times. You really get a great feel for where they are quick/slow, technique etc
    As they cross the line you immediately see their provisional position and immediately the next driver is on track coming around to begin their hot lap (they time it so that the next driver is half way through their warm up as the previous one finishes).
    It is the ultimate driver test – you get 1 crack at getting it right and if you mess up you can be out of position, which I think can make for a more interesting race on Sunday.
    It also has benefits for the teams and their sponsors – if they make the top 10, the TV audience is totally focused on their car for that hot lap. Currently Q3 offers very little coverage for anyone not shooting for a top 3 spot.

    1. My thoughts exactly. Makes it exciting and none of the ridiculous qualifying issues like what drivers are trying to get a tow. Makes it interesting when the track or weather conditions are changeable. Sometimes it’s the best part of the V8 supercar race weekend.

  14. It used to be a, aggregate of Friday and Saturday times but that was long ago.
    The single flying lap for each driver one after the other format suited some drivers but DC never got the hang of it .

    Nothing wrong with the current format. Liberty will try and mend what is not only not broken, but now one of the best F1 features.

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