Fernando Alonso, Alpine, Red Bull Ring, 2021

Alonso: F1 rule to ‘improve the show’ helps the big teams

2021 Styrian Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Fernando Alonso says Formula 1’s qualifying rules favour the quickest teams by giving them the opportunity to start the race on harder tyres than those around them.

Drivers who reach Q3 must start the race on the tyres they used to set their quickest lap time in Q2. As the quicker cars are able to progress through Q3 without using the softest tyres, they are therefore able to start the race on harder rubber, putting them at a strategic advantage.

This effect is likely to be pronounced in this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix as Pirelli is bringing softer tyres than those used at last week’s Styrian Grand Prix, held on the same track.

“It’s going to be a challenge to do one [pit] stop,” said Alonso. “If you start with a C5, maybe it’s more difficult.”

Alonso believes the rules hand an advantage to the front-running teams. “The fast cars have the luxury to avoid that tyre and in the midfield we don’t have that luxury,” he said.

“That’s the bad thing about the rules. They try to invent one rule that could benefit the show, and they just benefit the big teams.”

Having finished ninth on Sunday, Alonso doubts the team will be able to perform much better this weekend. “I don’t think that Austria is our best circuit,” he admitted.

“Unfortunately we have two races here, so we have to manage the damage that we can have in terms of points. I think we’ve done it very well in race one, because we did score one more point than AlphaTauri, and two less than Aston Martin. So we managed to limit this damage.

“But in race two I think it’s going to be another challenging weekend. We’ll try to do better, but it’s going to be difficult. I think this is our limit.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2021 Styrian Grand Prix

Browse all 2021 Styrian Grand Prix articles

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

35 comments on “Alonso: F1 rule to ‘improve the show’ helps the big teams”

  1. Or you could build a faster car and compete their advantage away. Only the top 4 was on the same lap, don’t think tire strategy and qualifying mattered at all. Everyone apart from Merc and Red Bull is just too slow..

    1. But that wouldn’t change the fact that the current tyre rule regarding qualifying is one
      of the, if not the, dumbest rules in the history of this sport that only achieves the exact opposite of what it is intended to do.
      Apart from the top 4, most cars that actually make it to Q3 are punished for doing that, given the cars outside the top ten have a free tyre choice.
      The rule should be simple: You start the race on the tyre that you used in your grid defining run.

    2. @maxv Such a useless comment. Something is unfair, a rule is working against its intention, and then instead of addressing that imbalance, you mockingly call for the ones pointing it out to get their act together.

      1. @balue I have that sentiment with Alonso’s comment. It’s a sport competition, not a family outing. Compete or lose.

        1. While you’re right that it’s a competition, I think the point here is that the rules here favour the teams that are already stronger, thus helping to perpetuate the dominance of already dominant teams. Which, for the neutral spectator who wishes to see more competition, is not a good thing.

          (and the fact that the comment is made by Alonso, who would undoubtedly welcome any and all rules if they would favour him, is besides the point :) )

        2. The rule was only approved because it helps the bigger teams! All recent rules in f1 got passed by the big teams as is per convention.

    3. pastaman (@)
      30th June 2021, 13:15

      Oh wow all they have to do is build a faster car, why didn’t they think of that sooner?

      1. Maybe like the original comment, it’s willful ignorance.

        1. If the top 10 have vaguely decent cars in Q2 then the top 4 can’t run different tires. It’s meant to give those teams an edge. They are just too slow to make the rule work as intended. Don’t blame the rule, get better..

          1. There is no money to get better.

  2. I don’t know if he is right or not, but all the data exists to verify his claim. It does seem to be at first glance a negative to qualify in positions 6-10 on the grid and starting on soft tyres when positions 11+ start on harder tyres and run long to overcut later in the race.

    1. He’s bang on imo. The rules were designed for a grid that would be much closer in pace (think pre-2009) in which having fresher tyres would’ve let 11+ either overcut the top 10 or be able to lean on the tyres to counter the aero deficiency and overtake.
      As it stands the top 4 are so much faster they get to start on a premium race tyre, pull a huge gap to 5-10 which ensures the top 4 a nice pit window and compromises 5-10 against 11+ who are given a tyre performance and strategy advantage. Hence, races where there are no artificial challenges thrown in by weather, accidents or the race director we get a sprint out front, 5+ lapped and a bit of a race in the midfield.

      1. Lets not forget that first of all this whole tyre thing, the compounds, the rules etc are an artificial tool to spice up the show. Once you have established that you will know it doesnt make sense to do any tweaking since you are tweaking effects rather than causes. So F1 needs to address the root problem and then get rid of tyres being relevant at all. And while you’re at it, throw away drs please.

    2. @emu55 It’s pretty much Perez’s claim to fame for most of the few decent results he had. Have a poor Q2 to be knocked out early, but then starting from P11 have a free tyre choice to start on the harder tyres and then benefit from that strategy working better on some occasions.

      1. Rodric Ewulf
        30th June 2021, 16:25

        Right, how many times did Perez be knocked out of Q2 this season? If you bother to check, it’s just one. His bad qualis usually have made him start in a lowly Q3 position and partially recover in the race. But let’s twist anything to fit the narrative that Perez is a terrible driver, Red Bull is dominant, Hamilton is a god in earth and Verstappen is like Vettel, won just once in his career with a slower car. :)

        1. I don’t think he means this year, but in the past. Just look at his podiums at Canada and Monza in 2012. Both times he started outside the 10 and used fresh tyres at the end to pick people off.

          1. Rodric Ewulf
            1st July 2021, 17:18

            So in this case it’s not much relevant either because in those years he didn’t have a machinery to give him expectations to always reach Q3. Just like him, many other drivers benefitted from this rule then, not only Perez. Usually for a midfield team their only chance to score a podium is either profit on a safety car, retirement of rivals on faster cars or this type of rule (not implying the rule is fair, but apparently it helped some drivers to score podiums). My opinion is this Q3 tyre rule is not fair as it devalue the achievement of reaching Q3, specially for the upper midfield teams or drivers who perform on the maximum level with their inferior machines to reach it.

  3. He’s 100% right, but equally the answer is for them to make a better car.

  4. Why not just let all drivers start with whatever tyres they want? Why make it a bonus to start from P11/P12 over trying to get to Q3?

    I’d say it would actually allow for more diverse strategies than we see now.

    1. @f1osaurus I’ve been arguing in favor of letting everyone choose their starting set freely for a while.

      1. @f1osaurus @jerejj As have I and many others. The quali-tire rules are out-dated and should have been abolished years ago. Alonso is spot on with his criticism. And whether it said it because it is in his interests or not doesn’t change the validity of the point he’s making.

    2. Coventry Climax
      1st July 2021, 11:41

      Yes, that would be a more sensible experiment than the ‘Let’s Squeeze More Money Out of It For Example Through Sponsorship Of Doubtful Counter FIA Claimed Philosphy and Oh By The Way They Are Here To Stay Artificial Sprint Qualifying Races’.
      But hey, being sensible? The FIA? Dream on.

  5. I reckon everyone who reaches Q3 this weekend will start on the middle compound like in France, but usually, yes. Axing the Q2 rule shouldn’t be hard and should’ve been done a while ago already. Simply no justification for having it anymore these days. Perhaps back when in-race refuelling got banned but eventually became redundant. The fastest will stay ahead regardless of which compound the latter top ten uses for race starts as France proved, so the same outcome in any scenario, everyone starting on the softest option, top starting on medium, rest on soft, and everyone on medium.

  6. Agree. If anything, the Q3 group should all start the race on the tyre they set their Q3 time on.

    1. @balue This used to be the case.

      1. @jerejj and, to complete your answered, was changed because teams that were not competing for the front rows, or usually didn’t get into Q3, often decided not to run in Q3 so they could start the race with a new set rather than a used one.

      2. Was a better rule tbf but they changed it as they had to give the Q3 teams another tyre to ensure they get two runs in. At that point they should’ve taken it out completely rather than make it the Q2 tyre which just gives the top teams a massive advantage.

  7. No. The quickest teams is just too quick, that’s all. The only thing Alonso wants was for 7-10 to get free choices. Which mean he’ll get the benefit, not the sport in whole.

    1. @ruliemaulana

      Just ignore the fact that with these rules getting into q3 is a handicap, given that 11-20 are allowed to start on a tyre of their choosing, and there is nothing improving the show as a whole with the top teams starting on a harder compound!

    2. @ruliemaulana Everyone would benefit as allowing a free choice for the entire field would be fairer overall. The fastest stay ahead anyway.

  8. I totally agree with him. It’s a really needless rule that also complicated things for newcomers to the sport. Position 11 is the best slot for midfield teams.

  9. Simple, bring back mid-race refuelling*!

    *for Q3 cars

    /sarcasm

  10. This guy told Honda they suck right to their face. I would consider his statements on this matter accurate.

    1. well they did suck when he said that

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.
If the person you're replying to is a registered user you can notify them of your reply using '@username'.