Ayrton Senna, Lotus, Monaco, 1987

Why F1 teams should vote tomorrow not to drop qualifying


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Formula 1 could make a major break from tradition if teams agree tomorrow to a plan put forward by the sport’s bosses to change qualifying.

The qualifying races proposal, backed by F1’s motorsport director Ross Brawn, would mean dropping the traditional qualifying session at up to three rounds on the 2020 F1 calendar. The grid for those grands prix would instead be set by a short race, the starting order of which would be the reverse of the championship standings. If they are deemed successful, more grands prix could feature these races instead of qualifying.

Last weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix was the 1,014th round of the world championship. And like every round before it, it featured a contest to see who could set the fastest individual lap to decide the starting order.

This fundamental part of the sport has never been altered. F1 has fiddled with the format of qualifying from time to time, but we have always had the chance to watch drivers put their cars on the limit for a single flying lap.

In 2005 F1 experimented with an unpopular aggregate qualifying format which involved adding two flying lap times together, but scrapped it after half-a-dozen events. And the starting grid for the Indianapolis 500 when it was part of the world championship was set, as it remains to this day, by an average of four flying laps.

These aside, qualifying is one of few elements of F1 which has remained consistent since the world championship began in 1950. Since then the sport has changed in may profound ways. We no longer have four-car teams, 500-kilometre races, or different engine formats or tyre suppliers in competition with each other.

In that time, the spectacle of qualifying has become an indispensable part of F1’s appeal. It is inextricably bound to the reputation of the sport’s most famous and revered competitor, Ayrton Senna, whose spectacular qualifying laps made him a hero to millions. Dropping the qualifying session from race weekends would deprive today’s drivers of the opportunity to measure themselves against his reputation.

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In today’s Formula 1, qualifying is one of few occasions where we get to see the cars being driven to their ultimate potential. With gearboxes that must do six races each under the rules and engines that have to last seven (eight in some cases next year), drivers are painfully aware of the need to nurse their cars whenever possible in a grand prix.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Singapore, 2019
Leclerc’s Q3 effort was a highlight of the Singapore weekend
But the single lap which determines their places on the grid is too important for that. Qualifying is when we get to see the engines fully cranked up and the drivers putting everything on the line.

As a result, it also contributes much to our understanding of the sport. It is the purest and best means of benchmarking the performance of the teams and drivers.

In a sport where it is incredibly difficult to make like-for-like comparisons, qualifying gives us a rare chance to measure pairs of the world’s best drivers against each other in the same cars. The see-sawing qualifying scoreline between Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc has revealed much about the changing balance of power at Ferrari, while one-sided contests speak for themselves.

It also shows us which team has the quickest car over a single lap. What could be more crucial to our understanding of F1 than knowing who’s built the fastest machine?

Traditional qualifying is much maligned by a few: ‘F1 lines its cars up with the fastest at the front then wonders why no one overtakes anyone’, they complain. But this is a fatuous criticism which presumes drivers seldom qualify below their car’s potential. Even at a time when the top three teams are significantly quicker than their rivals, the facts prove this is not the case.

Moreover, extracting the ultimate from a car for a single lap and mastering a race distance are two very different skills which lie at the heart of F1’s challenge. That (and unreliability) is why Senna had more poles than wins, and Alain Prost more wins than poles.

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The qualifying races proposal has been sold as an opportunity to create more action. The fact it would involve scrapping qualifying sessions at the races where it is introduced has been played down.

Guenther Steiner, Silverstone, 2019
Steiner has indicated he won’t oppose the qualifying races plan
Present the full implications of the plan to F1 fans and it’s clear the idea is not well liked. At the time of writing, over two-thirds of RaceFans readers say they “strongly oppose” the plan to scrap qualifying at three races next year.

F1 regularly surveys fans via its Fanvoice website about potential rules changes they are considering. At the time of writing they do not appear to have one on the subject of qualifying races. I would be very interested to see the outcome of a word-for-word replication of our poll.

However it is the teams, not the fans, who will decide whether qualifying is dropped for three races next year. “If it is not unanimous it will not happen,” said Haas team principal Guenther Steiner on Sunday.

“I don’t know if people will be convinced, but that’s a decision for Wednesday. There was more than once that somebody didn’t want something and then still it happened. So I wouldn’t get ahead of myself and say it’s not going to happen.

“There is people which have got opinions, concerns about it. But that decision is on Wednesday so let’s see what happens.”

Hopefully there is at least one team principal among the 10 which appreciates what will be lost if Formula 1 thoughtlessly tosses aside this piece of its heritage, even if it is just for three races.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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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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86 comments on “Why F1 teams should vote tomorrow not to drop qualifying”

  1. I would like to see that experiment before it voted away by aero freaks. This will be the kind of races that designers have to design cars to overtake instead of race from the front and speed away. So no dirty air anymore!

    1. They will still build cars to create as much dirty air behind them as possible. It’s always in your interest to make it as difficult to overtake as possible, no matter what track position you have.

      1. @gdog Yes, that matches my suspicion that the drift to disruptive aero runs parallel to the tendency of teams to want to micro-manage everything. If they can get their drivers as high up the grid as possible and then ‘fix’ them in that position by making overtaking difficult, that’s great. Even if they have a slight race speed deficit, it’s ‘manageable’ (by the team strategists and a stack of computers purring away). Kind of the Ferrari strategy now and Mercedes in previous seasons.

        One reason I actually like the reverse order races as @macleod pointed out, they’ll want cars as ‘overtake-capable’ as possible.

    2. If you think teams are going to redesign their entire car for 1 to 3 races, you’re crazy. Even Mercedes won’t throw away that kind of money.

      No, we’ll get a small handful of fairly shambolic races in which the peons are handed bread in the form of an occasional podium, and then we’ll go back to regular service where the top 3 continue to roflstomp the field.

      The fans will hate it, and the powers-that-be will congratulate themselves on fixing F1.

      1. Grat – The chances of a non top-3 team scoring a podium at these races is still pretty small. There will be a qualy race where the top teams will recover a lot of places, depending on how long those races are, and then the full race distance in the race proper on top of that to regain the podium slots (if they aren’t already up there after the qualy race). We’ve seen how easily a top-3 team driver recovers from the back to finish 5th or 6th at most venues so while this format must increase their chances I still think it’s unlikely we will see any new podium finishers in those 3 races.

        1. @keithedin, I think this is a great point. While I am in support of at least testing the idea of qualy races, I am very skeptical. I wouldn’t be surprised if qualy races impact the race as you’ve described.

          Imagine if today’s races were extended by one stint length and an additional mandatory pit stop, while having the grid set by reverse order of driver’s championship standings as the discussed qualy race would. In my assessment, it would be the same as having a qualifying sprint race to decide the feature race grid and the average fan can easily predict the results would be the same. As it stands, having a car from the top three start at the back of the grid, it is still quite possible for them to reach, or nearly reach, the podium in the length of a normal race. Max, Hamilton, and Vettel have all demonstrated this over the past three years.

  2. There are so many good reasons why this is such a bad idea. It baffles me how this has support, and also how it may actually happen.

    And despite the support it has, the overwhelming majority of fans don’t want this. And F1 is not giving a crap about it… I just hope 1 team member has some common sense and says no

  3. I know it’s not possibile, but I would be OK with a mixed format. There’s no point in making the short race in Monaco, while at Monza it could be a great show (where, on the other hand, quali this year were pushed to their limit).

    1. @m-bagattini By mixed format, do you mean having different qualifying formats at different Grand Prix during a season? Surely that is possible because they are voting next year to have exactly that!

      And I completely agree with you—I’d like to see a handful of reverse grid qualifying races a year every season, rotating between tracks. Both the reverse grid format and the current knockout format have their own benefits—so why not use them both?

  4. Well, I get you don’t like the format, but it’s still qualifying – i.e. a format to decide the grid order. My view is
    (1) I like present-day qualifying as it is, great format, I always try to watch, it’s ‘classic’ like you say.
    (2) I’ll definitely watch the short races. Who doesn’t want to see all the front-runners racing each other through the field? Yes it makes no sense in terms of fairness or merit. But still, will people watch? Yes.
    I suspect some of the opposition derives from the fear it may actually prove very popular. Which does lead to a serious question: do we want all qualifying to be reverse short race format? Personally, no, I don’t think I’d want that. But let’s see how it goes. Traditions are for breaking.

    1. Suffering Williams Fan
      15th October 2019, 14:03

      Here, here. The notion that qualifying is the “purest and best” benchmark is extremely subjective. It’s one measure, and in general it’s been an entertaining one, but why not at least have a limited investigation of other options? If it doesn’t work, then we can say it was tried and failed and move on (or back, if you prefer), but what if it turns out to provide the most exciting on track action of the season?

      1. I’ve another issue with the ‘tradition’ thing which is that it seems many of those who want Formula 1 to continue the same also complain all the time that one team is dominant, or it’s the car or engine that matters, not the driver. And if that’s the case, the idea of grid order being on merit – as far as drivers are concerned – doesn’t make that much sense anyway. Reverse order will at least demand that drivers (in the faster cars obviously) show their skill in overtaking, defending etc. and not in tyre management.

        There’s also some interesting variations possible, such as the short race distance and the available tyres: do you go with the softest tyre but risk having to pit towards the end, or a harder tyre, less able to overtake, but last the distance? Same goes for the tactics that slower cars at the front would use to stay ahead.

  5. For me, qualifying the last few years has often been the best part of a weekend. Even Monza, as embarrassing as it was, was fun you know. I think we should be focusing on other problem areas, quali is fine.

    1. I agree the qualifying format is good and often the best part of a race weekend currently. But what if changing qualifying makes the race itself so much better that it becomes the best part of the weekend?

      1. And what if the cars started farting rainbows? The only way qualifying makes the race that much better is by making qualifying the low point of the weekend– Like the knockout style qualifying did a few years ago.

        This is a band-aid to try to “fix” the fact that the slower teams finish farther down the grid. It’s a sham. It’s a step towards punishing teams for succeeding at the FIA Formula One World Championship.

        Next stop, penalty weight, restrictor plates and points handicapping– because everyone’s gotta be a winner!

  6. Shaun Robinson
    15th October 2019, 13:25

    I like the idea but with the massive caveat that it is only implemented on a very few number of race weekends. I like in Indycar how they have different formats for different tracks, gives it more character. Plus I think 20+ races of the same format (often on boring tracks) does get a bit tedious.

  7. Golf has an handicap system to level the playing field but they don’t use it for professional golf. F1 being the pinnacle of motorsport should have the same principle that the best should win, no charity.

    Quali race would only lead to more “fluke” winners aka Maldonado and decrease the value of a win.
    Recipe to your first win, if you drive a Mercedes, Ferrari, RedBull or even a McLaren. Do not finish a single race until you get your first win. It might even prove worth on the point table!

    1. Yes but a lot of people like to complain that the teams are too far from each other and then say the race is boring.

  8. F1 fans don’t know better than anyone else, there is no such thing as mob intelligence. I say change is good. If you don’t change I can guarantee you, you will die and F1 is the same.

  9. Don’t worry. As with any good ideas, F1 will reject this.

    One can only dream about the perfect F1 weekend:

    Friday: One-shot qualifying with points
    Saturday: Reversed grid qualifying race to establish Sunday’s grid order
    Sunday: 2 hour race

    All that with as little limitations as possible. Bring 2 or 3 different tire compounds and let everyone use what they want. Allow refueling but don’t make it mandatory and let’s see 3-stoppers vs 0-stoppers.

  10. The vote is not for changing the format, it is for trying a new format a few times to see if it is a good or a bad idea for the future, right? Whats bad about that? Better to have a plan for trying it first, rather than just changing it and then realize it doesn’t work (like the musical chairs qualifying a few years back).

    People are always going to be against change. We only need to look back a year when the point for fastest lap where being introduced. Most fans who made their voice heard where against it, I was skeptical too, but now that we have it it seems people like it. Reverse grid sprint races instead of qualifying might be an awesome improvement for the sport that in a few years time will have us wounder why they spent all those years deciding the starting grid from a single lap.

    Change is not always an improvement, but improvements always require a change. Let’s try first and then decide.

    1. People are always going to be against change.

      Allowing drivers to have career numbers was a positive change and I said so when it was proposed. I also think the proposed aerodynamic changes for 2021 are, on the whole, positive. I don’t oppose change, I oppose negative change.

      We only need to look back a year when the point for fastest lap where being introduced. Most fans who made their voice heard where against it, I was skeptical too, but now that we have it it seems people like it.

      We did a poll on that in August and at the moment a clear majority do not believe it has made races more exciting. So I don’t agree it has been accepted by most people.

      1. Fair point, maybe my fastest lap example was a bad one. What I was trying to say was, why be against something when the decision makers finally do the sensible thing and propose a trial run rather than just introducing it full on right away? I think it’s great that they are saying “hey we have an idea that would mean a massive change, lets try it a few times first and see how it plays out before we decide if we want to push forward with it”. Because before people get to see a change for real, they will generally be against everything – even things that potentially leads to improvement.

      2. Keith, dunno how well versed you are in statistical studies but you should know that one voluntary poll on a non-randomized sample of a small website is far from ideal, and is in fact the worst background to collect data on.

        I’m not trying to say F1 data is perfect either (they claim the opposite), I am also skeptical of their data and I dunno their sampling methods, all I am saying is that it is you really can’t claim it hasn’ been accepted.

        Rather what you should say is that you have one sample (your poll) that doesnt seem to go againts support the previous poster’s claim but it is also one sample. You can’t draw a conclusion from one non random voluntary sample poll on a targeted website, and neither can F1.

      3. This something that F1 have decided is the real game changer. If they get the go ahead and try it for three races you can be assured regardless of the general opinion it will be regarded by them as a success and will be the new format. Remember how they have lauded fastest lap point as a resounding success. With all the top teams trying to get to the front in a short race it could well turn out to be a destruction derby, great viewing for the casual fan who likes to see plenty of crashes and destruction. Viewing figures look good, success it will stay as the new format, This is not F1 but it will be good for the show.!!!

      4. So far I’ve been a strong supporter of changes in F1, but that career number thing is something I can’t stand. I was already against giving consecutive numbers to team mates of the world champion, just using previous championship order… but

      5. @keithcollantine, I absolutely agree with your POV as expressed in the article above. Be careful with the references to races that took place before a majority of the readers were born or you will be regarded as a dinosaur with rose tinted glasses, welcome to the club.

    2. +1
      Share your thoughts mate. No wrong in trying for atleast 1 weekend.

  11. This fundamental part of the sport has never been altered.

    It’s only for three races! Just let us see how those three races be. Maybe having three overtaking-action races over 18 processional-regular races is a nice experience. And F1 is not a religion.

    1. @ruliemaulana

      And F1 is not a religion.

      STONE THE HERETIC! …. (sorry, couldn’t resist ;P)

      1. @nullapax F1 Fundamentalist vs F1 Revisionist.

        1. F1 Liberal vs F1 Conservative.

          1. Ecclestonism vs Caryism?

          2. @drycrust, Beware, taking the Lords name in vain is sacrilege and the punishment is stoning.

  12. I have said it before and I shall now repeat it.

    Qualifying in my opinion is often the best bit of an F1 weekend at the moment.
    I am not saying it is perfect. I am not saying it can’t be improved. I am just saying that there are other aspects of F1 which are more in need of attention than Qualy.

    Mess around with tyres – DRS – VSC rules – dirty air etc etc before trying to fix that which is already working.
    Hell – maybe consider just fixing the lap counter before potentially destroying something else.

    1. Couldn’t agree more, qualy is sometimes the best part of the weekend for me. It feels like they are trying to appeal to the casuals with this horrible idea

  13. Last sunday, after changing the front wing, LEC made one position per lap.
    If quali races were 15-20 laps, then nothing will change.
    Top team would remain starting on front row.
    The 8th-12th crowd would remain the same – with the variation we already see.
    Plus, it is almost certain that there will be massive PU saving.

    1. I honestly cannot believe there are people actually considering this

  14. Jose Lopes da Silva
    15th October 2019, 14:30

    I like the idea of sprint races to decide qualifying, for a simple reason. @keithcollantine says:

    “It is inextricably bound to the reputation of the sport’s most famous and revered competitor, Ayrton Senna, whose spectacular qualifying laps made him a hero to millions. Dropping the qualifying session from race weekends would deprive today’s drivers of the opportunity to measure themselves against his reputation. (…)
    In today’s Formula 1, qualifying is one of few occasions where we get to see the cars being driven to their ultimate potential.”

    This is an illusion that Keith shares with a lot of fans. Presumably, the older ones. The master qualifying laps were killed after 2002. Keith still says we see the cars, but we don’t see them. The race director chooses one of the 6 top cars, and then we see a sucession of cars crossing the line. We see the master qualifying laps of one of the drivers.

    I can’t tell my 8 year old sun to watch carefully how a driver goes over the edge in qualifying. That’s not what he is watching. He is watching a bunch of cars going out at the same time. He did not watch the spectacular qualifying laps by Ayrton Senna. And I can’t make him understand and feel that.

    I’m a die-hard fan from the old times, I miss the fact that I didn’t wake up to see Vincenzo Sospiri’s single appearance in Formula One. I don’t care about watching qualifying today. It’s no different of watching the final results afterwards. All I see is confusion and cars racing to the line. In fact, what I see is three sprint races – but they’re not racing each other.

    So, yes. Let’s get sprint races. If we wanted to see spectacular qualifying laps by Ayrton Senna, we would revert to the 1996-2002 format. But people could not stand that – they would be scrolling Twitter and Facebook all the time. Let’s just move forward and get more honest action on Saturdays.

    1. I agree only on the Tv direction part.
      In fact, as I remember, 90’s quali was a unintentional shhot out.
      Teams had 60 minutes and try their best. Everybody found their places until there was a calm 5 minutes before time was off. Then the two, three best cars that weekend went out with some separation between them – enough to see half a lap of each.
      Today, we can barely see four, five clocks on the screen.

      1. Jose Lopes da Silva
        15th October 2019, 19:10

        But that’s the issue. We can’t convince no one to stick 60 minutes to the TV without some ultra-thrill in the middle. No one takes the return of the 1996-2002 format seriously. There are three of us, here. The vast majority, corresponding to those two thirds, say that the current qualifying format is perfect.
        But I really lament Keith saying that today we watch the qualifying laps, when in fact we just watch three of them, and just one among the 6 top cars.

    2. The race director chooses one of the 6 top cars, and then we see a sucession of cars crossing the line.

      As much as I feel the current knock-out format is still a step forward, I’ve always hated missing out on so many individual driver’s hotlaps.

      I’m for keeping Q1 and Q2 the same, but making Q3 a one-shot qualifying session for the remaining 10 drivers, with each of them doing their hotlaps one after the other, starting with 10th fastest driver from Q2 and ending with the fastest driver from Q2. Then you get to fully focus on each driver pushing to the limit for the whole lap (as was the case years ago). Main downside would be that some drivers could get screwed over by changing weather conditions, but I’d happily take that if it meant avoiding the chaos of trying to follow the top 10 simultaneously.

    3. @keithcollantine, see, it’s already started !

  15. Hopefully there is at least one team principal among the 10 which appreciates what will be lost if Formula 1 thoughtlessly tosses aside this piece of its heritage,

    Overly dramatic,

    even if it is just for three races.

    with a bit relativism.

    I don’t think F1 should have reverse grid qualifying races. But I 100% support testing it, and will always be open to be convinced of the opposite.

  16. We can only hope that at least one of the teams will see sense and vote against it.
    The cynic in me wonders just what Liberty is offering the teams to give this idea support.
    I though Ross Brawn would be above this sort of gimmick and expected better, particularly after the promising sounding changes they have suggested for the technical regulations.

    By all means – consider qualifying change but only after the new regulations have been brought through and we see what sort of impact it has. There is no need, nor has there ever been a need to get rid of qualifying, particularly if the idea is to replace it with some kind of artificial “race” designed to “spice up the show”

    Like Keith, I’m not against change but I am against plain silly ideas that should have been binned by the likes of Brawn before ever seeing the light of day.

    And people wonder why Ferrari want to keep the veto!

  17. ​Title of the article is misleading since it doesn’t mention that it is for three races on a one time basis.

    I say its misleading because “drop qualifying” implies they’re dropping it completely. Qualifying remains the default format and tomorrow’s vote will not not change that.

    Really the title of the article should be “F1 teams should vote not to trial qualifying races for three GPs”. It will still a) present the author’s stance on the subject and b) more accurate reflect what is being voted on.

  18. Quali races will never work while the cars cannot “race” each other anyway, that right there is the 1 fundamental issue with the sport, gimmicks being the other.

  19. If they vote “yes”, one word – RIOT!!!

    Time to stop them all killing F1!

  20. I am worried that there will be a lot of damaged cars from these qualifying races that will effect the main race. I am for trying it. It may work very well….?

    1. Yep, another ‘cost cutting’ move, unless they bring back spare cars, if the drivers actually ‘go for it’, look for a large number of wrecked cars not starting on Sunday.
      @Even sillier, how about qualifying going round the track the opposite way ?

      1. @budchekov Just imagining going down the Kemmel Straight into Eau Rouge. Gulp.

  21. Why are they trialling this in F1?
    Why not try it first in one of the lower formula to iron out the bugs and see which tracks it will work at and which ones it won’t.

    1. They’re already (sort of) doing this in F2 , @ceevee.
      Reverse P1-8 grid sprint race on Sunday.

      But as F≥2 are using spec cars, you’ll see champion leaders much more often lower on the grid during the main race.

  22. I’d like to go back to the one hour “open” qualifying I grew up watching. The one used from 1966 to 2002. But thays just me, and not an option on the vote

    1. Jose Lopes da Silva
      15th October 2019, 16:03

      Check my comment above and let’s create a political party.

    2. Do you really want to watch an empty track for half an hour ? Do you really want to listen to Crofty trying to make an empty track exciting?

    3. @rick1984, and @keithcollantine; this article actually makes me want to go back to one-lap qualifying. I believe one-lap qualityfing will increase the likelihood of cars qualifying out of position and thus create more interesting races.

      The current format and the open qualifying from before 2002 allow drivers several chances at perfecting their lap. Both Hamilton and Vettel have referenced at various times how they learned from their Q1 and Q2 laps or didn’t quite get their first run in Q3 right, and then nailed it in their final run. If the drivers only have one shot at the fastest possible lap, with no other cars interfering, emphasis and drama will be back on “fastest” and makes any mistake more costly. Having cars out of position without needing grid penalties to put them there will create drama and more value in the race.

  23. NOW is the perfect time to try the “qualifying races”. The WCC is decided, Hamilton has the WDC in the bag (and Mercedes won’t allow Bottas a miraculous comeback), Ferrari will be second in the WCC, McLaren and Sainz probably the best of the rest and Mexico, COTA and Interlagos are cool circuits for racing (Mexico not so much but at least has long straights). I’m against changing the qualifying session, but if we have to try the new format, NOW is the time

    1. I wounder what the midfield teams would have to say about that, they are all fighting over millions in prize money even if 1st place is no longer up for grabs…

  24. I’m not against new ideas but testing them out LIVE during races that give championship points bring the whole championship itself into controversy. What if the WDC was decided by the points in those races? There would always be the WHAT IF arguments raging for decades after.
    I get that they want more viewers regardless of their commitment and more money coming in. Why not do what other sports do and arrange say 3 ‘friendly’ races and call it pre – season? Instead of pre season testing being just practice there would actually be these fun new scenarios to test out as well. They would be fun as no points would be on offer so teams and drivers could experiment in any way they want with a revised rule set focused on safety as no points would be at stake.
    They could sell tickets and televise the events of course and many people would turn up or watch on TV especially if it was made a party atmosphere with all kinds of displays or challenges on display. The public would get to meet the drivers and choose who to follow when the actual season starts. Each year they could try pretty much anything they want without screwing up the serious fight for the actual championships itself.
    They could even call it the CIRCUS if they want label it for more public attention.
    Effectively it extends the season but in a non serious way giving new tracks the opportunity to trial the facilities without giving them a real GP for their first year and would replace pre-season testing with events that are worthy of prime time TV spots.

    1. What if someone loses the championship by the points they never won in your first 3 “pre season” races? This “what if” argument is WEAK. There will always be what if’s in life. Every driver on the grid is racing under the same rules (short of Ferrari!).

      Change will be ok, this is the fia world drivers championship were talking about, not life and death! I would make fun of people if they took other sports this seriously!

    2. Been done before (more or less) “non championship” races were popular in the 50’s and 60’s, ie. until Bernie.

  25. The truth is that the loudest fans are usually the most conservative ones. We had great opposition in the past to many of the things we can’t imagine living without today. Even if you strongly believe it won’t be any good I simply cannot understand people that are neither curious nor willing to experiment, even with such a small sample. Surely with that attitude we would never see progress in any discipline.

  26. I already find myself tuning out with 21 races or whatever it is. The other night I chose a football game over F1 when this happened for the first time in the 30 years I have been following F1. I can’t imagine having even 3 more races. At least for me there will soon reach a point where there will be so many races I will just not watch any. The same reason I don’t watch movies anymore because at the click of a button I can watch any movie that was ever made for free anytime I want to.

  27. As I said last week if they trial this at 3 races what would they (And the fans who support it) consider a success?

    We all know that when we have top teams starting at the back there going to come through the field & that is going to produce overtaking (Although a lot of it is likely going to be quite straightforward) & with a shorter race not all of them are going to make it through which is going to result in a mixed up grid on Sunday.

    This is going to be the likely scenario of what there proposing & i’m sure some will love it but I still don’t think they should do it because there are so many negatives & unintended consequences just like there are with any artificial gimmick.

    Losing seeing cars running on low fuel, Losing those mega low fuel qualifying laps, Making pole position meaningless, Making a mockery of the championship, Artificially handicapping the fastest teams/drivers & the potential of more contact/damage are some of the negatives that jump to mind but there are more.

    It’s a gimmick, A really artificial gimmick of the worst kind that shifts the sport/show balance way too far in the show direction for me which is why if they do this at 3 race weekends next year those 3 weekends won’t exist to me. Not interested in watching that gimmick, Don’t want to support it so just won’t even if there my favorite circuits. And believe me that’s something i’ll 100% stick to.

    1. @stefmeister, I think Liberty see “more contact/damage” as a positive, in fact I would suggest it is the driving force behind this idea.

  28. The current Qualifying format requires the ability to do a fast lap well. The question becomes will the skills of the Qualifying – Race be much different from those for a normal Race.
    It is difficult (but not impossible) for a team to rig the current Qualifying format to rig it so their Number One driver is deemed quicker than their Number Two driver, but Qualifying-races?
    So yes, let’s do this and see how it works. Maybe there’s some other Qualifying formats that could be tried too.

  29. The problem with the ‘let’s try it and see how it works’ is what constitutes ‘works’? Of course it will be entertaining in the short term, but having multiple races and multiple sprint races cheapens the whole thing over time, as per @darryn ‘s comment above. This is the same organisation that said DRS was only a short-term fix.

    I feel like a dinosaur asking to maintain F1’s heritage, but I’m in my 30s, not my 70s. I fear the continued americanisation of F1, but at least the drivers are making their voices heard these days.

    1. @john-h, you make a good point about defining “what works.” In the world of grocery goods market and user testing, criteria for success has to be defined BEFORE the test is run–or at least before results are reviewed. This guarantees everyone agrees on what is required for “success.” A product doesn’t go to market until it meets those success criteria.

  30. I think having them race in the finishing order of the previous race would solve a few issues and with the pecking order problem F1 has, not really disrupt things enough to make it too controversial.
    This would spice things up if/when drivers are out of their usual pecking order. It should be cheaper as the cars will never need to be designed or setup for qually laps. We would also have them racing on the Sunday with no compromise on setup.
    The rest of the weekend can be used for plenty of race stage simulation runs and testing the best young drivers outside of F1. I would go as far as have 3 cars per team for the Friday and Saturday practice and make sure they all have to go out with the same fuel load and tires to make it interesting for the fans. There could be an award for the fastest young driver and give him some prize money to help with sponsorship. Or even a young driver shoot-out in their T cars on Sunday morning. Remember how desperate some people are to get women into F1 and even more diverse grids. This would be the perfect opportunity.

  31. A good commentary, and thank you for not using the phrase “DNA of F1” anywhere in it.

    However, I feel like the qualifying races are something that are worth thinking in some form. Definitely not as a part of the championship (what other sport trials their sporting rules at the highest level?), but if there would be some way to do a trial run during preseason testing (and someone would pay the teams for showing up), or simulating the whole thing, or something.

    Then again, I’m happy with qualifying the way it is now, so change simply for change’s sake is not something I’m for.

  32. It is an experiment and a limited one at that. I am happy for them to try new things. Better then implementing a major permanent change and having to reverse it when it doesn’t work.

  33. Did this pathetic distraction originate from Liberty or the FIA? How does putting more stress on the power units and likely breaking parts fit with the stated goal of cost control?

    Whether the concept has merit or it doesn’t, the timing looks more like an exercise in political power mongering than any desire to improve F1.

    From Keith’s previous article:

    “The FIA and ourselves, at the moment we’ve got unanimous team support,” said Brawn.

    Is Ross flexing his political muscle? What did he offer the teams to receive ‘unanimous’ support? While F1 may lose some of its heritage if this ‘fix’ for qualifying is approved, the F1 political circus keeps its Machiavellian legacy in tact.

    1. @jimmi-cynic – got it in one.

      It’s a distraction – what we don’t know is “from what”.

      The scary thing is that the overall sentiment in comments on this article now seem to be swinging towards “it won’t hurt to try it” so we’re seeing just how effective force feeding ideas to people can be.

      I feared for F1 the moment a US “media” organisation paid an inflated price for it and now we can see just exactly why. Tricks and gimmicks are on their way.

  34. However it is the teams, not the fans, who will decide whether qualifying is dropped

    …there’s your problem right there. The teams should have no say in the sporting regulations whatsoever. Signup and shut up or go do something else.

  35. Effectively, I see the modified race weekend as 1 long race with a forced red flag in between. you are allowed to change tyres, repair cars during the red flag. The starting order of this long race being the reverse championship order.

    So, in effect, this proposal is no different than the reverse grid races that Bernie wanted.

    I vote No for this change.

    1. That’s an interesting perspective on it Sumedh.

    2. @Sumedh, I agree. It sounds a bit like NASCAR’s two-stage races where they stop half-way through and award partial points before re-starting with everyone on the lead lap.

  36. You say they are going to drop qualifying like it would never happen again, is just a few races!

    1. @joac21, if it is “just a few races” why call it a trial, why bother at all ?

      1. Yes it is only 3 races, but all of us and thousands more will tune in to see the spectacle. Like it or not, we will.
        Then, … Liberty will show a SPECTACULAR increase in viewership and it won’t be 3 races, it will be 12 or more.
        The teams should be planning (and practicing) to be able to make a front wing change in seconds. No doubt they will get lots of practice.
        In a twisted sort of way, it will be fun to watch.
        Effective, smart and good for the sport, not likely. Inevitable? Bank on it.

  37. I think a trial run of the short race qualifying system would be OK as long as it is objective. I’m looking forward some of the changes proposed for 2021.But I’m very concerned about the restrictions on parts and the possibility of Liberty trying to impose a standard chassis design through the use of aerodynamic restrictions.

  38. For me the issue here is F1 is now a pay TV product and as a customer paying a minimum of £30 (£10 for F1 and £20 for mandatory entertainment pack) per month to watch (and I have watched every race since the start of the 97 season) I become less accepting of changes which will ruin my enjoyment of the sport. I think the qualifying format we have now is the best we have ever had and I don’t want qualifying races. Experimenting in season will affect the outcome of the championship.

    They don’t give the fans a vote on this but I do have a way of expressing my concerns. It’s called phoning Sky and telling them to turn the F1 channel off! If qualifying is going to be changed (even for 3 races) then F1 to me doesn’t become worth £30 month but worth more £20 a year for F1 TV Access and ill just watch them when they hit the Archive the following year. While I wait for that I’ll watch Formula E on FTA/Youtube which looks like its going to be a thrilling battle with all the German manufactures taking part this year.

  39. I truly believe that F1 has the potential to be one of the most exciting sports on earth, with event highlights every bit as jaw-dropping as the best the NFL, NBA, NHL etc. have to offer. In it’s current state, however, I doubt there’s another sport with a bigger gap between how boring it is compared to how exciting it could be.

    Multi-lap scraps at least as exciting as Villeneuve vs. Arnoux should be happening on a regular basis throughout the season, not a couple of times a DECADE. That’s ridiculous.

    As the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” but the fact is, compared to it’s potential, F1 is broken in so many ways – from the playing field, to the ‘racing’, to the filming, to the aesthetics, to the sound, to the ‘stewarding’ to name just a few – it’s not even funny, let alone consistently entertaining.

    IMO, one area where F1 isn’t broken is qualifying. A competition to determine the quickest car/driver is fundamental and should be an integral part of every GP. But that doesn’t mean that an additional competition or method shouldn’t be tried until we find something that produces consistently great races. Remember, it’s called motor RACING not motor processions, which is what have now, for the most part.

    The current proposal is just a 3 race trial. If it doesn’t produce the desired results, they can revert to the status quo until they’re ready to try something else. But at least they’re trying. To their credit, the stakeholders have realized that 2 hour processions simply will not fly with the majority of X-lenials.

    People who are satisfied with the status quo in F1 are just exposing their EXTREMELY limited vision for how great this sport could be. For an excellent and relevant article on mankind’s resistance to change search “Ludvig Sunstrom Don’t Think Too Highly of Human Nature”.

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