Jean Todt, Singapore, 2019

Todt: F1 qualifying races an “interesting initiative”

2020 F1 season

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FIA president Jean Todt has given his backing to a proposal to test ‘qualifying races’ at a limited number of rounds in the 2020 F1 season.

F1 teams have been asked to consider different options for changing the Saturday format to decide the grid for Sunday’s race. This could involve hosting a series of smaller races with ‘reverse grids’.

“It’s part of discussions how to make the sport better, how to make the sport more attractive, always trying to find new ideas,” said Todt. “And it is true among the new ideas is a possibility of having a race on Saturday with a different starting order that will generate order for the race on Sunday.

“I would say it’s a work in process and no decision has yet been taken. But I think it’s an interesting initiative to see what other opportunities we could have to [promote] motorsport and more particularly Formula 1.”

The plan would be a departure from the practice of using a qualifying session to decide the grid order. However McLaren team principle Andreas Seidl said the proposal is only at an early stage.

“I would say it’s just ideas at the moment,” he said when asked by RaceFans. “I think it’s still far away from an implementation or having more details in terms of how that would actually look like.

“From our side as McLaren in principle we are open for that discussion. I think we should also be open, everyone in this paddock here, to look if there’s something we should try without destroying the basic DNA of Formula 1. And that’s pretty much where we are right now.

“I think with the meetings we had [before Singapore] in Geneva and also between the team principles with Chase we are in the final stages, the closing stages of putting everything now on paper in terms of regulations. There’s I think one more Technical Working Group and then one more Strategy Working Group with the team principals and then we are done. So I can’t wait to see the final issue of the regulations.”

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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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40 comments on “Todt: F1 qualifying races an “interesting initiative””

  1. I think we should also be open, everyone in this paddock here, to look if there’s something we should try without destroying the basic DNA of Formula 1.

    I feel this is an overused statement. DNA of F1 for one stakeholder could be different from that of another.
    I believe the fans should have (and have had) a say in shaping the DNA of the sport if not defining it.

    Nevertheless, i think there are two lines of thought in F1 at the moment. One — Is there something that can be improved? and two — Is there an inherent problem that needs to be addressed first ?
    Change starts from within, from an enterprise should focus on both questions simultaneously with appropriate focus and priority and this is where i think F1 is getting its priorities wrong.

    1. @webtel after how many years should we start to consider DRS as part of that “DNA”? :) /s

      1. @spoutnik Isnt it already part of the ‘racing DNA’ in F1 ?? :P

    2. I would disagree, fans shouldn’t be anywhere near regulation shaping. No one can agree on these pages what f1 should be, it’s different to everyone. All that would result would be a populist compromise.

      1. @emu55

        I think you have taken my DNA shaping suggestion towards regulation–i would put that under the definition part.

        Agreed, fans shouldn’t go near tech regs, but if you do not want to be a stakeholder, then let us not complain about the rules or proposals. In that case, live with the current product or move away from it entirely.
        Bickering barely helps. We comment and share our displeasure about F1 because we are passionate about it and would like to see a change.

        Sticking to populist compromises, i have a vague and stupid theory that goes like this– football is played across the world–couple of reasons for its growing popularity–because of the ease with which any one can play the game (even for recreation) and also because it is very simple to understand. No complications like cricket or say field hockey. Simplicity does breed popularity. Would like to hear your thoughts on it.

        Nevertheless, i am all for populist compromises if there is no other way out and those compromises are the only way to sustain the sport.

        1. In my opinion the FIA should set the rules, Liberty and the teams implement them. Too many groups claim an interest in F1 future strategy and it’s resulted in an stalemate favouring the big teams.

    3. What a load of nonsense !!!!

      Fans do NOT dictate to F1 and NEVER WILL. F1 is about technology, about challenging a set of rules and not about attracting fans.

      What is a fan? It is a noisy device that moves air or water PERIOD. F1 has always be the flower attracting the bees (“fans”) and NOT the other way round.

      Hand F1 to the “fans” and any sensible manufacturer will pack up and leave.

      Oh, please dont tell me that without “fans” there is no backing to sponsors no this no that. F1 is not a football game and never was. It is a series for PETROLHEADs and thanks to the MEDIA and all this “lets make money” hangers on, the true essence of F1 is losing ground untill it vanishes like just about every other form of “oh lets please the fans” categories.

      Purpose built track after purpose build track is falling into decay while stupid video game street “tracks” pop up everywhere. As with Miami, local residents DO NOT WANT a football field in their back yard (I pray Liberty (just after the money anyway) NEVER get to host a race in Miami as I much rather see a PROPER race track like Watkins Glenn get that honors)

      Oh before you blow your windmill down, think about this. While stupid TEMPORARY street circuit host F1, what happens to the REAL circuits and WHERE DO the LOCAL national and club motorsport go as true circuits begin to die ??

      The day F1 go for “fan-pleasing” gimmicks is the day F1 start to die. If I owned an F1 team I will NOT RISK running my cars in MORE THAN ONE race per weekend so I really hope TRUE F1 petrol heads RETHINK this dumb idea of qualifying races and REVERSE GRIDS …………. are you off your rockers.

      Would like to see the FERRARI “fans” enjoy the Italian Grand Prix when come Sunday and NOT a ferrari on the grid because they have been destroyed beyound repair in a stupid reverse grid qualifier on Saturday…………:(

      Jean Todt, retire you losing the plot :(

  2. My brain seems to be subconsciously ignoring this at the moment, like its not believing this could possibly be a thing.

      1. RichardCantelo
        23rd January 2020, 11:18

        Me too. Feels like a dream on April 1st !

  3. Narrator: it wasn’t

    1. Am I the only one who heard that in Morgan Freeman’s voice?

  4. Common sense has left the chat.

  5. This is the only way Williams will lock out the front row anytime soon.

  6. Certainly be interesting at Monaco………….

  7. I despair!

    Supposedly very clever people talking about the wrong things… again!

    Fix the aero to allow cars to follow closely
    Ditch tyres that degrade thermally or give them an operating window wider than a letterbox
    Reduce the weight and size of the cars if possible

    AND LEAVE WHAT ISN’T BROKEN ALONE!

    1. @ltdslipdiff And I despair at this old chestnut when it doesn’t matter one iota whether cars can follow closely if the field spread is such that they are nowhere near each other in the first place, especially when the topic is what needs to be fixed first.

  8. LoL,
    Now brain is starting to think about this…
    So I guess Clare will be voting 1.
    Great option for Monaco too. (the show must go on:-)

  9. If these guys kill F1, life will still go on.
    That is the only consolation.

  10. Mill Hill Surgery

  11. Oops. Anyway my point which may be a bit ‘off message’ . I was reading an article on Autosport about the Stewart teams 1st win and Gary Anderson was saying qually was a mess as they couldn’t get a clear run in qually.

    Well isn’t that the elephant in the room? Qually used to be a mess, in fact it didn’t even get TV coverage till ITV took over. And it was basically 50 minutes of zero action then everyone piled out for the final 10 minutes and tripped over each other…some things never change.

    Anyway it was a mess but it did mean the race was more likely to have a muddled up grid which helps the race obviously.

    So what do we want, continued great qually but almost zero chance of cars being out of position or a mess on Saturday that can make for better racing Sunday.

    For me its the lightbulb moment but maybe im totally wrong. Be interested to know what others think

  12. But I (as a fan) don’t want a “show”, funny experiments, people playing games and experimenting all the time. I want a serious championship with serious rule set, where it is clear that the best racer and fastest driver of a day is also a winner. I don’t want this to become like a casino, or a wheel of fortune, where the Gods will decide who will start first or win a race. No serious sport would change all the major rules each few years, perhaps over centuries… Technical regulations are another matter, but basic racing regulations should remain if they are good and successful over the decades. Otherwise this becomes a new sport with no continuity with its past. They want us to have F1 only in name, while they are creating their own reality show for the masses. But you’re too late for that. You have something no one else has, practically no competition. Yet you want to get rid of that and enter the fight with the likes of Big brother or whatever is there “out there”.

  13. I’d say we should have a proper qualifying on fridays to determine the starting positions for the qualifying race. Everybody will then be happy. Keeping the current qualifications format while having one race more.

  14. So we have what we wanted. Multiple teams fighting for the lead, exiting quali, great race’s and a new breed of drivers. For next year the same rules and things will get even closer.
    So how can we destroy this development…

  15. It is as if they are all 100% determined to mess with the ONLY part of F1 that is pretty much working every race weekend rather than tweak anything else first.

    Heads so far up that can’t see the ….. etc etc?

  16. Why not try something at the last 2-3 rounds of this season? The championship will be over by then, and everyone will be far more willing to experiment when there isn’t anything major on the line.

    1. @mashiat The championship fight at the front may be over by the last 2-3 rounds but there are still close fights in the mid-field with millions in prize money on the line.

      1. @stefmeister And how is that going to be any different to next season? There is never going to be a good time to experiment, but the end of this season is as good as any. It’s not a huge difference anyhow. There is usually an extremely strong correlation between qualifying and race pace, so a sprint race on Saturday isn’t going to cause colossal shake-ups. Mercedes to will continue to be first, Ferrari second, Red Bull third, McLaren fourth, Renault fifth, Williams last, etc.

  17. Please, someone with statistical skill try nd find a correlation between the lack of relevant news about F1 and the ressurgence of silly ideas from F1 mgmt.
    I clearly remember that Bernie’ sprilnklers always came back on january/february of each year.

  18. Now, while I know there are a lot of strong feelings against this, I could see it working. However, there are caveats to this:
    1. There are more important things to fix first. I’d rather take an iterative approach, changing one thing (or very few things) and seeing their effect before trying something else, rather than the current move to change everything at once.
    2. It would need to be handled very carefully and thought through. Special cases need to be considered (like Monaco) and a system designed to work well in all cases.
    3. I wouldn’t remove the “fastest lap” qualifying, but use this to extend it.

    My own suggestion would be:
    Q1 – Same as current, all cars go out, bottom X eliminated and positions set.
    Q2 – All but the top 8 remaining cars have a “sprint” race in reverse championship order to set their positions. The exception would be top 2(?) drivers proceed to Q3.
    Q3 – “Top 10 shootout” sprint race (top 8 from Q1 plus top 2 from Q2), again in reverse championship order.

    It needs refinement (Monaco being one of the main sticking points), but would have benefits.

    I will stress once more, though, that I think other things should be fixed first and Qually is working better than most other parts so should be left until later.

    1. Even simpler:
      20-30 minutes free for all, to set the release order to a everybody shootout.
      In the first phase, there will be tyres allocation for at least 2 fastlaps.
      After that, all cars would be released one by one in reverse order of fastest times in the previous phase.
      Other than that, keep as it is.

  19. Jose Lopes da Silva
    26th September 2019, 14:38

    A 50% Race Distance race starting in reverse championship order?

    1. Try that in Monaco, or any other street circuit.
      Plus, first race of the year the pole would be the rookiest of the rookies.

  20. Probably they’re going to try it, realise it’s a spectacularly bad idea almost immediately, then consign it to the rubbish bin of history like what happened with the timed knock-out qualifying a couple of seasons ago. But then again, we still have DRS… so that shows the F1 bosses aren’t always quick to learn the error of their ways.

  21. And I was thinking Bernie was the last Alzheimer in F1…

  22. Qualy races? Reverse grids? What about reverse management? The fans run the FIA and Todt can talk to the walls in his internet cafe.

  23. I am all for quali races. Reverse championship order go for it. That will fix so many levels of racing.

    #1 Teams will see great incentive in designing cars that can overtake.
    #2 Championship leader will be at a disadvantage.

    Just imagine this on saturday 45m race Mercedes in the back, then Ferrari, then Red Bull… all up to Williams in P1.

    George Russel leading the pack in to turn on. Reverse grids are fun when cars in the back are faster than the cars in front.

    This would reward good race-craft, drivers with good overtaking skills.

    Sure it would hurt Vettel, and some of the more crash prone drivers, but everyone else should love this one.

    And then for Sunday? Lets say Lewis would get to say P6 on quali race? That is great for lead battle, keeping slightly faster car slightly behind. Last thing we want is fastest car starting from most advantageous position driving off in o he sunset.

  24. This is a very public display of panic and an admission of failing with the 2021 regulations. DRS will continue to play a central role going forward and we will now be peppered with randomness, which could stick should it ‘work’ for one race, before being dropped for something else probably drawn out of a hat by a megastar F1 super-fan on instagram/twitter.

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