Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Sochi Autodrom, 2019

Qualifying races plan fails to gain full support of teams

2021 F1 season

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A plan to introduce qualifying races at three rounds on the 2020 F1 calendar has failed to win the unanimous support needed to ensure it will go ahead, RaceFans has learned.

However the proposal could still go ahead if it is agreed before the start of the 2020 F1 season in March. The plan was discussed at a meeting between teams and representatives of F1 and the FIA today in Paris.

Under the plan, qualifying sessions would not be held at three races next year. Those Saturdays would instead feature a short race in which the 20 drivers would be arranged in reverse order of the championship standings, and the finishing order of those races would set the grid for the grand prix.

The qualifying races would be held at the French, Belgian and Russian Grands Prix. The races were chosen based on the point at which they occur on the calendar, the suitability of the circuit and how much overtaking has taken place at the venues in recent seasons. RaceFans understands Ferrari opposed holding a qualifying race at its home event in Italy.

Some teams have publicly raised concerns over the qualifying races plan. Racing Point CEO and team principal Otmar Szafnauer pointed out holding additional races could lead to an increase in crash damage, which would raise teams’ costs. It may also mean changing tyre allocations for weekends featuring qualifying races.

The proposal has been overwhelmingly criticised by drivers.

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62 comments on “Qualifying races plan fails to gain full support of teams”

  1. Actually I wouldn’t mind qualifying races in bad tracks like Sochi and Paul Ricard. But not Spa please.

    1. TAXIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII……………..Mr Brawn is leaving now.

    2. … Or races, but in reversed gear? Or races on reversed circuits? Or reverse gear, reverse circuit, reverse grid and sprinklers? What’s not to like?

      1. Actually there are many circuits amazing in reversed direction.
        Hungaroring seems a bit better, as that not that long main straight is a slight slope instead of climb, and seems a bit more intense on average.
        I love Interlagos and that track is maybe too good to get reversed, but looks very intense that way.
        Suzuka is wonderful in both directions.
        Silverstone got reversed some years before, and i like it, altough was cool before too.

        Paul Picard is full of medium speed turns, those are a bit too fast to drive next to each other, and the current aero packages allow even less, just too hard to follow, while too much downforce and grip needed.
        Maybe a good experience at a trackday.

        I’d like to see Algarve Circuit at Portimao, but that’s maybe a bit too dangerous for F1 with many blind corners, and a lot of tricky banking, and maybe a bit too oldschool like Zandvoort, and has only a Grade2 at FIA. Could be good if the new aero rules working.

  2. Great, I’d hate to have to tune in on a Saturday.

  3. SPA?!?!?!

    Hand off SPA!
    What genius came up with SPA?!?!?

    *indiscernible cursing at FIA and Liberty*

    1. Hope this idea stays as it is – dead.

      1. And again – SPA?!

        Because the track known to be so easy, forgiving and wasn’t the scene of biggest crashes and recent tragic events…

        No comments.

        1. Normally, responding to yourself twice would be a sign of insanity. But here it seems justified. There’s insanity, but not on your part.

          1. Melbourne is usually pretty dire in terms of action – do it there. Hands off Spa!

          2. It’s a bit hard to line them up in reverse championship order at the first race of the year though @RB13

  4. Every time I see reports about this I am less in favor of it.
    In difficult-to-overtke tracks it is simply useless.
    In easy-to-overtake tracks, top teams will take 10-15 laps to be top 6 and 7th-14th would remain essentially with the same variation we get today, as they cerntainly will save PU – not to mention parts and man-hours.
    Yes there will be a “race” on TV but I cant see how teams will fully race on saturday when the points are given on sunday.
    Make it two short races (150-150km/100-200km) on sat/sun with proportional points and I may consider it.

  5. Hallelujah!

    1. You took the words right out of my mouth

      1. Qualifying races are a ridiculous idea that resembles a crazy Ecclestone flash of stupidity. What’s next, triple points at the last race of the year?

        1. Also stunt jumps were scheduled, in reverse championship order.

  6. Giganormous Prawn Sarnie
    16th October 2019, 21:07

    I like the idea but it would have to be used on some tracks on not others.

    30 lap reverse grid Monaco race? No chance.

  7. However the proposal could still go ahead if it is agreed before the start of the 2020 F1 season in March.
    I feel this proposal is like a noisy, intrusive fly that I cannot get rid of. Shame!

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      16th October 2019, 23:32

      It’ll happen but don’t worry, once it proves to be a disaster and fans are kicking off about it, they’ll go back to what we have now.

  8. It’s probably for the best. Most of us enjoy the qualifying format as is so it would be silly to scrap it in an effort to make the races better. If I was in Ross’s place, I would propose the following:

    Aside from determining who’s quickest, qualifying results would simply determine the order that you chose your starting position for the race. The farther back you chose to start, the more points you gain for finishing in the points. For example, if Max gets pole and decides to start last and he wins the race he would get more points than if he decided to start 15th and wins the race. Imagine if Red Bull decided to design a car that worked especially well in dirty air.

    Of course, the chronic complainers, and upholders of the status quo are going to focus only on the negatives of such a system but after thinking about it since the 90s, this is the best system I’ve come up with that preserves traditional qualifying while solving F1’s fundamental flaw of starting the quickest cars up front and expecting consistently good racing.

    For the time being, traditional processions–I mean races–could be held at tracks like Monaco where it is extremely difficult to pass. As with gymnastics and figure skating, tracks with a higher ‘degree of difficulty’ for passing could be weighted more heavily ITO of points distribution the farther back you start.

    I would scrap all grid penalties. You either get points added to your licence or the team takes a financial and/or constructors hit for any infractions. All other details, like the exact points distribution, could be worked out later.

    If there’s a will, there’s a way to, once and for all, turn F1 from a monotonous high speed procession into a consistently great racing series that is a match for any other sport in the world ITO excitement and amazing displays of skill that even non fans could appreciate.

    1. @Boris: this is the first interesting idea in terms of innovation I do hear since — ever.
      Still I do believe that if addressing the right issues, a sport that worked well for several decades does not need revolutionary change.
      Also, a simplification and stabilisation is / should be on the agenda.
      Only if you can explain the rules in a jiffy, you can win the maximum amount of fans.
      Any unnecessary complication ought to be prevented. The simplest set-up is “fastest Q-time ahead”.
      If cars cannot overtake, change aero concept, eventually add grip — but not for Monaco (ideally including a competitor for Pirelli who can impossibly please everybody).

      A pity that they still deny us from learning how the non-manufacturer teams would perform with more sportive / fair / just prize-money distribution by adding at the same time this budget cap (unpoliceable anyway — opening up a huuuge hall of suspicousness, mistrust and discussion…and it will cost meaningfulness of this greatest of all sports…limiting sporting effort cannot lead to growth…like limiting audience…).

  9. [Insert Grumpy Cat Meme] Good!

    [Insert Grumpy Brawn Meme] Bad!

    1. I don’t see it that way. Brawn will not be saying ‘bad’ nor will he be mad nor sad. He’s wants to explore possibilities while it’s prudent, and diplomatically asked for consensus, and didn’t get it. He’ll move on. Oh I think perhaps they might propose something else that might be more palatable if indeed they may revisit this before next March, but I don’t believe for a second that Brawn is trying to force some agenda here. Just legit querying if there’s a better way. Answer no? Ok so be it. Asked and answered.

      1. I’m sure Ross will move on just fine – but I will take every chance to snipe at this idiotic proposal from Brawn, Liberty’s Show & Entertainment Director.

        He was hired because of his vast racing heritage, but recently has become the mouthpiece for Liberty’s ‘more show’ agenda. It doesn’t look good on him.

        1. No actually he has spearheaded the move to cars actually being able to race closely, amongst many other positive things for F1 moving forward. Fixating on a simply query to see if there is a more exciting way to qualify shouldn’t negate all the good that he is doing. But that’s people for you. Especially cynical ones.

          1. I liked that push from Brawn for less dirty aero – if/when he delivers on that 2021 dream then he will regain some respect from me – but his recent interviews have been less technical and more about the show. Have you watched his recent interviews with the awkward rugby analogies?

            Even a cynic like me hopes your naivety succeeds. Would be a first in F1.

  10. Incredibly silly idea… yet why am I just slightly disappointed?

  11. I’d like to think this is dead, but won’t be at all surprised to see it happen. It s a bit like the elimination qualifying that seemed to not have a great deal of support and it suddenly sprung back to life.

    At least, or hopefully, it will be off the agenda for a couple of months.

  12. It looks like I’m finding myself on my own in supporting this… and even though I love existing qualifying format I can certainly afford to miss 3 of those in favour of trying something. The quickest way to see if its good or not is to just do it.
    Why waste days talking about it, it’s not so critical for championship or ‘sport honour’…

    1. @ivan-vinitskyy Actually that’s my thinking too.

    2. Hmmm. I can see it being “entertaining” a few times and then when it’s brought in the realisation will set in that it ain’t great but then we’d have to wait a full season to get rid of it @david-br @ivan-vinitskyy

      1. @3dom OK, I’ll play devil’s advocate and suggest some positives:
        1. It will test the skill of drivers in overtaking (safely) and defending (safely)
        2. It will be non-stop actions, unlike (a) the full races and (b) qualifying, when we have those long tedious bits waiting for the next round, waiting for a few cars to actually roll out of the garage, waiting for drivers to actually put their foot on the accelerator
        3. No more Spa Q3 debacles (seriously: the drivers opposed to this experiment deserve reserve order races ad punishment for that!)
        4. The final grids are guaranteed to be in a less predictable order
        5. The short races could be just long enough to make tyre selections interesting (softer tyres to overtake/defend better, or harder tyres to protect the position towards the end, 1 stop or 2)
        6. To make 5 more interesting still, race strategists can take the day off (and even better maybe forget to turn up on Sundays)

        1. @david-br I do appreciate those things but in addition to my first point I personally don’t think the timing is right anyhow. The 2021 regs are supposed to be the shake up that F1 needs to improve the racing. Improving the ability to follow in races is one of the top priorities. If that works then the small issues with qualifying won’t matter quite as much. It just seems like they’re trying to change too much at one time. It’s the equivalent of when F1 teams have a car that isn’t performing well, and then throw lots of different aero parts on at once and find that they haven’t become more competitive because some of the parts don’t work well together, but they can’t tell which ones because they didn’t study their effects individually and are confused as to what works and what doesn’t.

          I personally think they should wait to see how the 2021 changes pan out first before thinking about race weekend formats, and changing qualifying, which I think works damn well and should be low down on the list of priorities.

    3. petebaldwin (@)
      16th October 2019, 23:33

      For me, it’s like punching yourself in the face to see if it hurts.

      1. @petebaldwin: LOL! F1: Pinnacle of Self Face Punching

    4. @ivan-vinitskyy @david-br I’m with you. I was looking forward to seeing these three events. It really would put a premium on overtaking ability—akin to how some oval races are decided based on how well drivers fight through traffic—and potentially spice up the show at two bland tracks that could have used it. Spa certainly doesn’t fit that category, but a reverse grid race there too would be spectacular.

      @david-br Really like your points number 5 and 6. It would be great if on Saturday, team communications were restricted, like in MotoGP. That would also help distinguish the Saturday race and alleviate the feeling that it’s simply the first stage of a two-stage race with an overnight intermission.

    5. there have been too many try-outs and every time it happens it looks like this sport was in desperation which is a bad sign, marketing-wise. Addressing the major problems first, with appropriate measures, is always the better idea.

  13. Hmmm… there’s quite a longer gap between the test races, so even if they still turn around and “test” it, I’d think there’d be a good chance for the test to be ended after the first try and not extend into Spa. They’d have far more time to react and adjust than they had with the elimination-qualifying which lasted for two weekends even though it was dead partway through the first.

  14. The top three teams will do nothing…absolutely nothing that would affect there privileged position ATPIT. The fact that some of them may well be challenged is where they dig their heels in.

    1. The objection seems to be more from the smaller teams though and the potential damage costs, which is a fair point.

  15. Qualifying stays and so does my Sky subscription :-) Unless they get the change agreed in March…I really hope this is the end of this nonsense.

  16. Maybe we get car designed to overtake and able to follow others. At the moment they design the car to qualify fast so they can in the race leave from the pole and dissapear over the horizon.

    So let it come i like to see this experiment.

  17. And we still believe at the fairy tale of 2021 revolution. I’m becoming more and more convinced that F1 needs a single, steady hand to be governed. Kind of a supremo.

    1. @m-bagattini Hmmm you mean like the single steady hand of the supremo that handed the power to the top 4 teams to placate them during the CVC money grab? Ya I think I’ll take the genuine attempt by F1’s owners at a consensus from all the teams as to doing F1 better, getting everyone on board towards an improved product on the track, over a dictator, any day.

      1. Obviously a joke about Bernie: I really appreciate the line Liberty is following @robbie
        However, I think it is duty of the governing body along with the organizer to dictate the rules (so not a single person like in the past, more a single entity). Teams and drivers can be, should be, polled but they shouldn’t have the last word.

        1. @m-bagattini Lol I did consider that your comment may have been tongue in cheek. And I agree and was even going to add that soon Liberty is about to ‘dictate’ the new regs, but obviously after including everyone in the discussion and putting everything on the table.

  18. How is a faster car starting ahead going to generate competitive racing? The current format sucks and is only saved due to various bandaid-like rain/tyre/drs hacks. Kudos to F1 bosses for being honest with themselves and taking an initial step towards better non-spec RACING.

    1. This sport prospered over several decades while having the simplest rules applied: fastest first. When there are enough variables like different designs, technology, tyres ( ! ), there won’t occur many processions

      1. A whole generation is in denial of the increasing convenience of technology.

  19. I propose power ups like blue shells, banana skins etc. Better power ups and rubber banding for those at the back.

  20. F1 Fans : We want closer racing and better races. Qualifying is great.

    Liberty and FIA: Lets change the qualifying format.

    Wow. Wonder what their research teams are doing with surveys and consumer insights.

    1. @knightameer

      Liberty and FIA: While we have an opportunity let’s see if there might be a consensus amongst the teams to explore ways to potentially make quali even more exciting. If not, we won’t touch quali as we agree it is already quite good. Bottom line, fans will get quali that is at a minimum very good and well liked.

      1. @robbie i hope that is what they are thinking right now. Otherwise we may get other wacky ideas to ‘Spice’ up F1.

  21. Advice to Liberty……sell up and get out now. The self-interested dinosaurs will never be moved until the sport finally dies it’s inevitable death. Check out the car manufacturers and sponsors in Formula-E………and maybe just maybe the star drivers too soon, if Hamilton’s sub text is anything to go by.

    1. before its death I would opt for dictating proper, simple, sane rules

  22. I think that the best qualifying session that we’ve seen in the last 15 years was… the second practice session in Suzuka!!

    Just bring the 1 hour – 12 laps per driver format back:
    1) it would mean the entire session would be interesting as the bast laps could happen at any time.
    2) traffic would be less likely to affect fast laps
    3) we would be able to watch all the quick laps of the top drivers

    1. @exeviolthor: YEAH ! the simplest format ! it was the only one when TV direction was able to feature entire laps. If that’s not granted, witnessing qualifying does not make any sense

    2. Yes, that old qualifying format was good, most of the fans had no problem with that.

      1. Jockey Ewing, actually, it seems that quite a few fans did have a problem with the 1996-2002 “1 hours and 12 laps” format that was invented purely for TV.

        A lot of fans complained that most of the session was actually pretty boring, since you could spend quite long stretches of time staring at a completely empty track waiting for somebody to do something. I think that quite a few fans look back to what was actually a pretty short lived format with more fondness for the system now than it usually received at the time, as back then it had a more mixed reception.

        1. It could be boring when the track was improving due to changing weather conditions for example.
          Otherwise usually it was a great spectacle.
          The Ferrari/Shumacher domination in these years did not help either. Any format would be boring when you know the poleman before qualifying even starts.

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