Kvyat suggests splitting F1 qualifying into groups to prevent traffic “lottery”

2020 Sakhir Grand Prix

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Qualifying for on the Bahrain Outer circuit could become a “lottery” due to the difficulty of completing a lap free of traffic, Daniil Kvyat has warned.

The AlphaTauri driver has suggested drivers should be split into separate groups during qualifying, so that all 20 are not circulating at the same time trying to set lap times.

“The traffic might become a bit of a lottery,” said Kvyat after today’s practice sessions. “So we need to speak tonight to drivers about what to do because it might be a bit strange.

“I don’t know, maybe we can split into groups. We will see. But it’s too tight and narrow for us.”

Separate qualifying groups have been used in junior formulae, notably in Monaco, which is shorter than Bahrain’s Outer circuit and much narrower. However splitting qualifying into two or more separate sessions has often led to complaints from drivers that changes in the track conditions between sessions puts some of them at a disadvantage.

Nonetheless F1 drivers are keen to explore ways of reducing the traffic problem in Saturday’s qualifying session for the Sakhir Grand Prix. McLaren’s Carlos Sainz Jnr said it will be discussed when they meet with race director Michael Masi.

“We’re going to talk about it in the drivers meeting,” he said. “We need to find a way to make sure it doesn’t become dangerous because at the moment it’s a bit on the limit of dangerous.

“Let’s see because I think we had a couple of ideas for the FIA to look into and hopefully we can work on it.”

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Dieter Rencken
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15 comments on “Kvyat suggests splitting F1 qualifying into groups to prevent traffic “lottery””

  1. Take a page from MotoGP.

    The 8 fastest drivers (or 6 or whatever) in FP1/FP2 get to go straight to Q2. That leaves 12/14 drivers in Q1

    1. @casjo Sounds good.

    2. I agree, that sounds a good plan. The track is 3543 metres long. 3543/20 = 1 car per 177 metres. 12 cars on the track = 1 car per 295 metres. 5 cars get excluded and 8 get added in Q2, so 15 cars or 1 per 236 metres. That would be better than having 20 cars on the track.
      Maybe another option would be to allow the fastest 5 (FP1, 2, & 3, tyre choice relevant) go straight to Q3, the next fastest 5 go straight to Q2, meaning 10 cars maximum on the track at one time, i.e. an average spacing of 354 metres per car.

      The fastest official FP2 lap time was 54.713 seconds meaning that car had an average speed of about 233 km/h or approximately 65 m/s.

      1. I think that would make FP3 a qualy session. I have no issues with that in principle but it would no longer be “practice session”

        1. Qualifying is officially a practice session anyway isn’t it?

        2. Yes, one could argue that because of the improvement in the track then FP3 would become the most influential part of the suggested bypassing-Q1-and-Q2-Qualifying-sessions method of reducing the density of cars on the track during Qualifying. It could also be some factor such as weather changes that and could make FP1 and FP2 more influential, but I don’t think that is likely. Q1 and Q2 both involve excluding cars on the basis of being slow compared to all the others in that session. So is it wrong to allow some cars who have shown they are faster compared to all the others to skip Q1 and Q2?

  2. Not sure anything will change, it will probably ‘be alright on the night’. Remember the same conversations about Monaco in 2010 with the new addition of 3 new, slow teams and I don’t remember anyone really losing out then.

    Although I am an optimist here, the F2 boys did have some issues (bit of a euphemism there) but it is a more extreme example as there are 22 cars with one session rather than 20 cars with three.

  3. I don’t think they really need to change anything, Yes there will be a lot of traffic in Q1 but as long as teams keep drivers informed on who’s around them & as long as drivers use there mirrors & common sense while on in/out laps (Basically stay well off the racing line) it should be fine.

    I also think back to the days where we had 30 cars fighting for 26 starting spots when we also didn’t have things like GPS tracking & all the other data/video feeds teams have to help with traffic now. Yes cars got held up every now & again just as they do today but everyone just got on with it.

  4. Its too late to change anything now!
    Its not like we haven’t known this will happen since the day the track layout was confirmed. Just get on with it!

    1. @eurobrun Too late indeed. The use of this track configuration was confirmed back in August, so plenty of time to do a change for this specific qualifying, but nothing, so the drivers simply have to get on with it.

  5. I think it’s too late for now. But the fairest option to this would be two groups of ten drivers, with each team having one in both.

    Seven best from each group advancing along with faster of 8th placed drivers.

  6. The easier solution is just make Q1 a bit longer, say 25 minutes. They’re only really going to do two runs anyway. OK, might be more than one lap, but they are tyre limited to a big extent.

    If there are issues with traffic then, then that is directly attributable to the teams not choosing to pick the gaps and all congregating on track at the end of the session.

    The teams have to take some responsibility. They’re not going to be out there circulating the whole session, so if you are saving your last run for the last couple of minutes you have to expect your lap to be at high risk of being ruined by traffic. Going earlier might be slightly slower but you have a better chance of not being baulked. That’s the trade-off.

  7. BS. They have 20 minutes to set a good lap time of less than 55 seconds, incl in- and outlap they are 3 minutes on track. No one is forcing them to go out at exactly the same moment in those 20 minutes.

  8. Good call Daniil!! Surely this must be considered?

  9. The Skeptic (@)
    5th December 2020, 11:42

    I can think of 3 ways to manage the traffic:

    1. Allow drivers on in/out/cool down laps to use the full circuit on those laps… (i.e. continue onto the regular circuit after turn 4, and then rejoin at the back straight). Then the only cars going through the narrow section will be the cars on hot laps.

    2. Split the drivers into 2 groups of 10. (1 from each team).

    3. The teams organise themselves…. and get straight onto the track without mucking around at the start of Q1.

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