Which qualifying format is the best in motorsport?

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For a session that is simply designed to set the grid order for the race, qualifying in motorsport is often a spectacle in itself.

But while the concept of ‘the fastest car and driver starts the race on pole position’ may be a simple and universal one, there are many different methods to determine the grid order – some more successful than others.

So out of all the major motorsport series and the various qualifying formats they use, which is the best and most entertaining method?

Open timed session (F2, F3, WEC, etc.)

The traditional qualifying format. One or more timed practice session of a specified length (often 15, 30 minutes or an hour) in which all cars are free to venture out and set a time at will. Total attempts may either be capped with a maximum number of laps or teams may be permitted to run constantly throughout the entire session if they wish.

This was the primary format used in Formula 1 for decades, with multiple qualifying sessions run and the grid order set using each driver’s overall fastest times across the sessions. In 1996, F1 moved to a one hour single session with each car limited to 12 laps. It remained that way until 2003, but the open session system is still used across many junior series today.

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One-shot qualifying (F1 2003-2005)

In the first major effort to shake up qualifying and add more excitement to Formula 1 during the days of Ferrari domination, F1 introduced one-shot qualifying for the start of the 2003. This allowed each driver just a single flying lap in which to set their qualifying time, with any mistake going heavily punished.

Formula 1 held two sessions across Friday and Saturday, with cars being sent out in drivers’ championship order on Friday and the results inverted to set the running order for Saturday’s session, which decided the grid order. F1 introduced an aggregate format in 2005 in which both sessions’ laps were added together to decide the order, but that was dropped mid-season and the previous single lap format returned.

Multi-stage knockout (F1 2006-present, IndyCar, Moto GP, etc.)

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Suzuka, 2022

Formula 1’s next qualifying experiment was an entirely original format. Returning to the open session format with a fresh twist, three short and intense sessions are held back-to-back, with the slowest drivers eliminated over both of the opening two sessions, leaving just ten drivers to fight for pole position in the final phase.

While modified in minor ways over the years, knockout qualifying has proven popular enough that many other international motorsport series have adopted it, or at least an amended version – including IndyCar, MotoGP and even NASCAR’s Cup series. It continues to be used in Formula 1 today.

Elimination qualifying (F1-2016)

In another experiment, Bernie Ecclestone’s Formula One Management and the FIA decided to radically change the qualifying system for 2016. Known as elimination qualifying, the system retained the three-stage format, but eliminated the slowest driver at set intervals. Drivers ‘on the bubble’ had to improve their personal best time before the countdown reached zero, otherwise they would be eliminated from the session.

The system proved unpopular with fans, teams and drivers alike and was dropped after just the opening two rounds of the 2016 season.

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Multi-stage knockout with superpole (Bathurst 1000, etc.)

Combining the open session format with one-shot qualifying, the system popularly known as ‘superpole’ typically uses an open session to determine a set number of drivers who qualify for a shootout for pole position. Then, the drivers who successfully reach superpole get one flying lap each to determine their final starting order, with the fastest time taking pole position.

This system has proven popular, being used in various formats in NASCAR, the Australian Supercars Bathurst 1000 event and others. It has also been used in many GT and touring car championships.

Duels (Formula E 2022-present)

One of the newest and most innovative qualifying formats is also a hybrid system. Formula E’s duels format has been one of the all-electric series’ biggest talking points over the last two seasons with no other major motorsport series having adopted it to date.

Starting off with the field split into half, two open sessions are held with the top four drivers of each progressing to the duels. The eight drivers then compete head-to-head over a single lap at the same time, with the fastest driver progressing to the next round. The third round featuring the final two drivers is a battle for pole position, with the grid order set based on which round the drivers reached and sorted by fastest times in those rounds.

I say

There are many valid criticisms to make about Formula E and its slightly haphazard approach to motorsport at times, but it’s hard to argue that the duels qualifying system is not one of its best innovations from a sporting perspective.

Lando Norris, McLaren, Silverstone, 2022
F1’s current system is hard to beat
Head-to-head duels manages to combine the best of the presser cooker, one-shot format while providing constant tension by tracking the two drivers in real time. It has produced some genuinely thrilling battles in its year of use so far and it would not be surprising to see other series adopt the format.

However, that adage of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ rings painfully true when it comes to motorsport. No better example exists of this than F1’s three-stage knockout system, which has continued to provide entertaining action, rewarding driving skill and punishing mistakes, shaking up the order in a way that feels fair and organic. The disastrous elimination format in 2016 only succeeded in proving that there was nothing wrong with the knockout format to start with.

Other formats definitely have their merits, but when it comes to overall entertainment, it’s hard to beat Formula 1’s current system.

You say

Which qualifying format do you think is the best in motorsport?

  • Other (specify in comments) (1%)
  • Open timed session (F2, F3, WEC, etc.) (11%)
  • One-shot qualifying (F1 2003-2005) (13%)
  • Multi-stage knockout with superpole (Bathurst 1000, etc.) (13%)
  • Multi-stage knockout (F1 2006-present, IndyCar, Moto GP, etc.) (56%)
  • Elimination (F1 2016) (3%)
  • Duels (Formula E) (3%)

Total Voters: 143

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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85 comments on “Which qualifying format is the best in motorsport?”

  1. All of them except for the rolling elimination style.

    1. To say that style of elimination was a badly thought out disaster would be an understatement.

      1. It would work alright with something like Sprint Cars or maybe even NASCAR – but it just wasn’t a match for F1.

    2. Two-session from 1950-96 was the best. Give them 4 hours over 2 sessions to go out when they wanted to and do a lap. Anything else is a gimmick.

      1. I found it a particularly boring format, personally.
        It wasn’t all that uncommon for there to be no cars on the track at all at times, despite there being many more cars than there currently are.

        If you call shortening or breaking a session up into segments a gimmick, then F1 is all the better for gimmicks, isn’t it. According to almost everyone, that is….

        1. You actually watch qualifying? I guess if you’re single or live in your mom’s basement that’s ok. Who has time for that?

          1. Who has time for that? People who are interested enough to make time.

            With qualifying being the best part of too many F1 events, why wouldn’t I watch it?

          2. @darryn it’s very simple. I have a young family, and I record all sessions on Sky+ and watch them after the children are in bed. As long as I’ve managed to avoid social media or the news giving me the results, then job’s a good ‘un.

            Can’t imagine watching races regularly without watching the qualifying. Only those who aren’t actually that interested in F1 wouldn’t want to try and make the time. The only time I have an issue is the ridiculous Friday qualifying on Sprint race weekends: that’s just going too far.

  2. I prefer the Indy500 style 1-shot knock-out, where the average of a 4-lap run is taken, which on normal tracks would mean 2 laps.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      29th January 2023, 15:02

      I associate qualifying with the fastest, not an average or median. It should also reward taking risks and super laps as opposed to consistency. I agree that the style might be more appropriate for Indy as my son plays soccer in the US and plays like a European player in a sea of kickball players. F1 and Indy are probably as far apart as US soccer and European soccer.

      1. Yeah, I think I agree with that @freelittlebirds, for Indy, it is partly an average over a number of laps to prove the driver/car combo passes the minimum barrier for entry, since full speed laps for hours after another are such a large part of the race. For F1, it’s quite different (especially now that races have a maximum length, and one that many oval races cross if I’m not mistaken ;)

      2. Note that the average speed qualifying is for the ovals, not the road or track courses. 4 laps averaged at Indy, 2 laps averaged at most ovals– the double header event, the 1st lap sets position for race 1, and 2nd lap sets position for race 2.

        For other races, it’s a 3 round knockout, with the first round usually divided into two groups due to the number of entrants.

        The fastest qualifier for the Indy 500 in 2022 was Scott Dixon with an average speed of 234.046 miles per hour (376.660 kp/h) over a 2.5 mile, four corner oval. The slowest was Jack Harvey at a glacial 226.851 mp/h (365.081 kp/h). So, really, it’s about super consistent laps. ;)

        1. 234.046 miles per hour (376.660 kp/h) over a 2.5 mile, four corner oval. The slowest was Jack Harvey at a glacial 226.851 mp/h (365.081 kp/h)

          Okay, we all know what you mean, but if you’re writing a unit as x per y, you don’t need the “/” symbol, as this is the SI equivalent of “per”. So you would write either km/h, or mph. But please never kph as (1) kilos of what? and (2) k isn’t a measurement unit in itself.

      3. @freelittlebirds

        It should also reward taking risks and super laps as opposed to consistency.

        In reality, the 4-lap format at Indy isn’t really about consistency — it’s a single 10-mile superlap and generates more risk than a single lap would because of the tyre degradation over a run. The first lap is easy flat and rarely spectacular because they have so much grip. The risk comes in the final laps as the tyres go off and the cars drift ever closer to the walls.

        The qualifying format at Indy is my favourite in all of motorsport — not just for the length of the run, but because of the risk/reward of withdrawing your time to jump the queue, and the added stakes of possibly missing the race entirely. But that’s not to say it would work anywhere else; the 500 is certainly a unique event.

      4. @freelittlebirds In Europe we play football 😉

    2. I would love to see Indy 500 qualy format in Monaco weekend. An average of 4 fast laps on Monaco streets would be epic. The race will always be poor anyway, at least we would get some more fun.

  3. I’d be interested in a Q3 superpole. 8-8 eliminated in Q1 and Q2 and then we can watch the whole lap of the top 4 one by one. I’d revert to “normal” multi-stage qualifying in case of changing weather.

    But the current Q1-2-3 system is also good enough.

    1. Jahahahhahaha …

    2. @f1frog Wow, I’ve seen many qualifying formats in my lifetime but that really is off the scale complicated. I tried to picture it in my head, but got lost somewhere around the ‘two drivers per car‘ mark ‘four 20 minute sprint races’ when the leading car has to bunch the pack up. Fastest driver…….. et al.

      Is it still in practice today? If you were watching from the grandstand, understanding what was going on must have been a nightmare. Why not just play a game of ‘paper, scissors’?

    3. “Social media votes” means the person with access to the most computers wins. Qualifying is about the short term car and driver performance, not who has the best bot-net.

  4. I voted for I think a one lap or superpole format is the purest type of qualifying there is. Driver versus stopwatch, one lap, everything on the line.

    Under normal circumstances, especially in F1, the circuit is rubbered in enough by Saturday afternoon that track evolution is negligible, and it would be easy to add a regulation that says “if the official FIA forecast says a higher than 50% chance of rain then the session is run as normal”.

    I am fed up of the current Q3 format which is an exercise is watching the timing graphics because we can only watch one car at once.

    1. I am fed up of the current Q3 format which is an exercise is watching the timing graphics because we can only watch one car at once.

      Anything that doesn’t deliver the chance of a new quickest time at the very end of qualifying is by its nature worse than the current knock-out format.

      1. It’s not worse at all – and the chance is still there anyway.
        Supercars often have the fastest time set in the one lap shootout session.

        1. I’m not talking about delivering it in the session, I’m talking about doing so in the specific 2 minutes following the clock running out. (and knock-out qualifying usually delivers on that promise three times in a single hour)

          1. What difference does it make? None to me.
            Completing a lap after the clocked has stopped is no different to doing so while the clock is still running.
            It’s also no different to doing the same lap without any clock at all.

  5. The MotoGP format (the top 10 from FP1-3 automatically make it to the final stage of Qualifying while the rest have to fight it out for 2 slots), because it makes Free Practice 1-3 more exciting. Though it wouldn’t work as well in F1 because following other cars is a downside, not a benefit. There would be a lot of unintentional impeding going on, which isn’t nearly as much of an issue with bikes.

  6. Multi-stage or multi-stage with superpole for me.

  7. One lap.

    Qualifying is the peak performance of car and machine. That’s the one moment in the entire weekend where everything is one the limit. There are no faster laps in any other session. These performances are best appreciated in their entirety, which can only be done if everyone takes turns putting in their lap.

    The coverage of current qualifying never manages to show how on the limit qualifying is. We get way too many track side shots, static shots of the start finish straight that serve no purpose other than as background for the updating timing bar, and otherwise mere fragments of laps – which more often than not is the final corner.

    1. Whilst I agree quali should be one lap at full commitment and that each lap should have a greater appreciation from the audience, the 2000s one lap quali didn’t really work.

      The rally style ‘road sweeping’ benefits cars that go out later and other variables like track temp and wind direction mean it’s rarely a fair comparison between the first runner and the last. Watching a couple of Minardis set a slow lap time wasn’t a spectcle to the casual fan and a crucial loss in sponsorship if most of the public only tune in for the final few runs.

      I’d rather each lap was available as an onboard on YouTube immediately after quali, preferable with the driver narrating it. The pole lap should also have a Brundle style commentary over the top of it rather than just the recording of the lap itself.

      1. @rbalonso I can see that some people would be disinterested in the slower cars, but right now the Q1 and Q2 sessions are mostly formalities too. And in addition to skepticism that anyone (apart from the highly perceptive few) would even be able to tell a Williams was slower than a Red Bull (after all, it’s often only about 2 seconds), I’d argue that seeing someone muscle a lesser car around is often more exciting than watching the pole lap, which tend to be set in the best and most stable cars.

        It’s true that conditions in a single lap system are never equal, but they’re not equal now either. It’s just left to each team to guess which moment is best for them. In the current format it’s not uncommon for one driver to start his lap up to 40 seconds later than his direct competitor. If they’d both do single laps, that difference would only increase, depending on the track, by about 30 seconds so conditions would be more or less the same still.

        Either way, with so many races it’ll probably average out over the course of a season. Sometimes it gets a bit better towards the end, sometimes the wind picks up a bit and times don’t improve. And in the extremely rare situation that it rains halfway through qualifying… well, pretty much everyone loved Magnussen taking pole in Brazil!

  8. Stephen Higgins
    29th January 2023, 15:32

    I will never understand modern motorsports’s obsession with messing with qualifying.

    It’s like they’re determined to stop the fastest car from being on pole for the sake of ‘the spectacle’

    Set the grid by speed, then race.


    1. Yes– sort the cars in order of fastest to slowest, and then complain that there’s no overtaking.

      So simple, yes, but has it’s downside.

      ALL methods of qualifying have issues. Aside from “based on performance”, they’re all artificial. If you want fair and entertaining, have every driver pull a number out of a hat. But now you’ve eliminated the qualifying session. I suppose you could then have a sprint race to determine the starting order for the main race– but no team is going to support that model, because it’s too fair.

  9. Formula E’s duels is good on paper, but in practice I found it very difficult to follow two cars on screen at the same time (perhaps thats a fault of the broadcasting rather than the system itself though).

    I enjoy the current F1 style, but I have a soft spot for the single lap qualifying of 2003. Being able to watch every single timed lap in full with the cars being driven at the absolute limit was amazing to watch, particularly with spectacular drivers with the “win it or bin it” style of Montoya around at the time. Then for 2004 they started messing with it and introducing race fuel and aggregate times and all that malarky which ruined the purity of it and I was glad when the current system eventually replaced it.

    All that being said I therefore went for the hybrid Bathurst / WTCC style of a Muti-Stage knockout followed by single lap qualifying. The best of both worlds.

    1. with the cars being driven at the absolute limit

      That’s not what you do when you only have a single lap to qualify. You tone it down because there is so much more downside from stepping over the edge than in a regular, multiple chances qualy.

      1. On the other hand, when you know you’ve got time to go again you don’t give it full beans either. Don’t want to prang on the early run because you won’t be able to go out again.
        Likewise, with grid penalties for changing components, even going bonkers on the final run carries the same massive risks.

        Also, we never see leading cars back off before completing their final lap when they know they can’t be beaten, do we?

  10. Multi-stage knockout or F1’s current predominantly unchanged format since 2006. Pretty unbeatable.

  11. Formula 1’s current format.

    1. Rolling elimination can work but it has to be thought out and communicated properly. When they trailed it commentators either couldn’t grasp it (or deliberately played dumb). However I think that system leads to too much attention on every grid position at every moment rather than thinking about the big picture. The current system places a lot of attention on the drivers around the midfield but their exact position isn’t that important. It works well to allow advert breaks and guarantees drivers on track throughout the hour so I guess it’s a success. The new tyre rules should be good as there should be no situations where drivers run out of decent tyres.

  12. petebaldwin (@)
    29th January 2023, 16:33

    Current format for Q1 and Q2. Single lap for the top 10 for Q3. Order decided by the Q2 times.

    1. I voted for the current format but this would be quite entertaining actually. Would probably make it more likely that we would not always have the same 2 or 3 drivers on pole all of the time.

      These are some of the best drivers in the world in the best cars, so why not just give them one chance at a perfect lap.

      1. so why not just give them one chance at a perfect lap.

        They wouldn’t even attempt it, because any mistake would be extremely costly.

    2. That’d be an interesting compromise between the two systems, with a good solution to the running order to make Q2 meaningful.

    3. This seems like a good compromise.

      1. What’s the point of a compromise between a system that delivers and one that was dropped because it didn’t?

        1. Because it provides positive aspects for everyone.

    4. Is that not essentially what the superpole format is?

  13. Gimme back those crazy ’80s 1,300 bhp turbo qualifying engines, which Gerhard Berger described as sitting in a rocket. I want to see flame-breathing monsters and hear the deafening thunder of a grid full of good ole V10’s.

    1. too slow for me….

  14. Motogp qualifying. Q1 and Q2 based on free practice and more time in final Q2 so more laps for pole position

  15. Coventry Climax
    29th January 2023, 17:49

    I cringe at the word superpole. You’re either on pole or you’re not. There’s no such thing as a super pole or a sub pole, just like it’s not possible to be slightly pregnant.

    I always liked the 1 hour open session. But instead of a maximum n0. of laps, it should have been a minimum, to ensure action throughout the hour. Current system is fairly decent though.

    1. They could do slow laps to get the minimum laps required. Like when they had to start Q3 with the same amount of fuel they started the race. They just circled around burning fuel for 10 minutes before putting in a fast lap.

    2. The word Superpol made a lot more sense when first introduced for World Superbikes.

    3. I cringe at the word superpole

      The word is pretty tacky… The format, however, is certainly not.

      BTW, Aussie Supercars don’t call it Superpole. It’s known as a (Top 10) Shootout.
      And prior to that session, they have the fastest qualifying time.

  16. I’ve never quite understood why everyone raves about the current F1 qualifying format. There are 3 big issues for me:
    1. It’s been around so long that teams have optimised how to run the session. It leads to predictable samey sessions most of the time.
    2. It doesn’t always punish mistakes. Unless they put it in the barriers or make a mistake in the last lap they get away scot free.
    3. There’s so much filler. When I don’t watch live I generally skip to the last 3 minutes of the session and find I’ve not missed much.

    While not perfect, I’ve really enjoyed the FE duels format as it blends the excitement of knockout qualifying with the single shot high jeopardy nature of the duels. They just need to shorten the groups and the gaps between the sessions

  17. But drawing lots – what could go wrong :)

  18. Open 1h or current F1.

    But I had a wacky idea if it needs to be changed.

    Reverse the construction order and let the 10th team had full 1h of quali, 9th has 55min, 8th 50min, 7th 45 min, 6th 40min, 5th 35min, 4th 30min, 3rd 25 min, 2nd 20min and the constuctor who leads has only 15min of time to do the laps. Then everyone can have the track at its best. Still this has the problem of different weather for different teams. So maybe keep the current format but change it a bit. Q1 20min and let Williams have max of 10laps-Red Bull 1 lap.

    1. I quite like this.

    2. … the constuctor who leads has only 15min of time to do the laps.

      You’d see most if not all cars sitting in the pits for about the first 45-48 minutes of the hour.

      Getting to go out earlier or getting more time to qualify is not a bonus to a team, performance is limited by tyre availability and track evolution.

      1. @proesterchen In my mind giving different compounds of tyres would be a bit too much. At least in some tracks like Monaco or any track that is dry enough for drys but not wet enough for inters. That’s why I would keep the current system but in Q1 let Williams have all the 20min to do a max of 10laps and in that same window let Red Bull have 1 lap. Q2 (maybe) the same but 15min. Q3 let every driver have as many runs as they wish because that is the pinnacle of saturday.

  19. For me, in Formula 1 or any other that has good television coverage, the best is the One-shot qualifying. It allows you to see the entire lap of each car/driver and if you combine a good onboard with the amount of data available today on the screen, I think It would be very enjoyable. Plus, an error sends you to the bottom of te grid.

    1. Plus, an error sends you to the bottom of te grid.

      So you’re advocating for a bunch of drivers doing 99% laps, cause that’s what will happen again.

      1. They don’t treat them any differently to when they have a bunch of other cars on the track.
        It’s the same scenario for everyone – those who do the best get the most reward. Those who conserve finish behind.

        Unless F1 is uncompetitive – which is the only reason the format suffers.

        1. They don’t treat them any differently

          You can see drivers toning it down even today, whenever their first lap in a given segment was deleted or simply not good enough to progress into the next stage. (or start high enough up the grid in Q3)

          Single lap qualy of any kind would make those 99% laps the norm because giving up the last tenth or two is a no-brainer compared to starting last of your group because you went off on a curb.

          1. That’s just the basic nature of race driving. Risk vs reward is a constant decision making process.
            Changing the format doesn’t change their approach. Grid position is still the goal of the session, and the meaningful points won’t be awarded until the end of tomorrow’s race.

            Nobody (literally nobody) will push that extra 1% no matter what the qualifying format is, unless they are already safe and free from any potential consequences from exceeding the limit (which is never – because they wouldn’t need to push in that case).
            While some cars remain inherently faster than others, the risks involved in F1 qualifying will never make it attractive enough to push that hard. You might might a up tenth, but you could always lose a lot more.
            Always – same goes for the race too.

          2. Changing the format doesn’t change their approach.

            It increases potential downsides while potential rewards stay constant, so it pushes drivers to keep more margin and explore the edges of the performance envelope less.

            We’ve been there, and sometimes still find ourselves there, and know how this turns out.

          3. No it doesn’t. The risks and rewards are the same either way.
            They are competing only with each other – not against an objective metric. Ignoring the inherent performance differential of their machinery for a moment – if they want to go faster (to achieve a higher grid position) then they need to take more risk than their competitors.
            There’s no way around that.

            I’d be interested if you could give an actual real-world example of how you think the format changes anything when the goal and purpose of qualifying remains exactly the same regardless of the specific format it runs to.

          4. They are competing only with each other – not against an objective metric.

            When I’m calling something a 99% lap, it’s because it’s that much further from the objective optimum of the car’s performance envelope. (vulgo: “the edge”)

            I’d be interested …

            I’ve already explained it above.

          5. When I’m calling something a 99% lap, it’s because it’s that much further from the objective optimum of the car’s performance envelope.

            I know that – that’s the point.
            Regardless of how hard anyone pushes, they are all making the same decisions about how hard to push relative to their competitors.
            If the fastest time is set by someone who is lazily cruising around at 50% of their driver/car combination’s potential, then there is incentive for everyone else to go only a little bit harder to beat that. Which is why I say it is a relative competition, not an absolute one. You only have to be the fastest on the day.
            There inevitably comes a point where it makes no sense to push any harder, as the reward won’t match the risk. 2nd to 1st in qualifying is usually not worth a crash and that does not change with any change of format.

            There is no external force or incentive to get them to push to the absolute limits and beyond, because there will always be the risk of crashing/damaging the car. The best F1 could do in that sense is to make qualifying as important as (or more important than) the GP in terms of championship points – anything less won’t be worth the risk.
            And even then the reality is that only a few would really attempt it.

            If it really is that much of a problem for you that nobody pushes more than ‘99%’ – then you’re going to be disappointed in every category of motorsport forever.
            An I’m willing to bet that if someone actually did, you’d probably call them reckless….

  20. went for current system but woulnd’t mind one shot

  21. Let me just say, that I’m happy the open session is in the past. It was a bugger, trying to guess which car was going to be fastest, and in many cases sheer luck, that cameras were able to catch it. One year, Rubens was fastest, without setting a fastest sector. Gotta admit, that while working on the production, I missed that one. I can understand why viewers weren’t happy to have not seen that lap. Thankfully, they dumped the open era.

    1. Yes, but with the current system we never get to see the fastest lap! We only see purple graphics on the screen.

  22. What, there’s no “sprint race” option?

  23. Top 10 shoot out! Although Formula E doesn’t sound too bad either.

    The problem I have with the current format, which I definitely think is broke and in need of fixing is that you can draft/tow or block and there’s too much bunching up leading to there being a meta-game of where you are on the final lap on the track and whether you’ve been able to get your tyres in the right window. Add to that the potential for traffic or a red flag and there’s just too many opportunities for disadvantage that aren’t genuine mistakes on the part of the driver.

    The build up of 3 exciting moments are kind of pointless, all you get to hear/see is some shouting of names as they cross the line rather than getting to focus on each of the best drivers full fastest possible laps.

  24. I must say, I always try and watch the “top 10 shootout” for the Bathurst 1000 every year, to be able to live the lap with every driver, with camera angles and in-car really helps you feel the emotion of the driver and helps you feel the degree to which they are putting it all on the line. Couple that with the commentators talking to the driver on their cool down lap I think it’s some of the best motorsport coverage there is.

    Sure the weather can play a part, and the track may be better for the final driver, but the final driver is always the one who qualified fastest for the top 10 shootout, so they deserve to have that position anyway. I’d love the F1 to keep the same Q1 and Q2 but convert Q3 to a single shot lap where we could ride on board with every driver.

    1. single shot lap where we could ride on board with every driver.

      What’s the fascination with ‘riding along’ with a driver on a 99% lap?

      You can do that all weekend if you must.

      1. But everyone is doing it, right?
        Why would you bother watching it at all if you don’t like it that way?

  25. Multi-stage knockout with superpole.

    Multi-stage knockout is a decent way of trimming down the field. However, it’s not the best in terms of actually seeing a qualifying lap. Most of the time its a zoomed in shot down the pit straight of a car exiting the final corner before crossing the finish line. You maybe get to see a couple of corners of actual action if the TV director does their job properly.

    Superpole means you get to see an entire qualifying lap in full for each of the top drivers. They go out in the order in which they qualified in Q2 (slowest to fastest) so the pole time should change through the session. If someone makes a mistake, then that is visible.

  26. Twelve-lap format (F1 2000) is the best, in my opinion.

  27. I guess it depends what you want to see. If you want real sport/competition, I think open timed session is the only way to go. If you want a show/entertainement, then multi-stage knockout it is.

    1. I don’t get your equation….

      I’d suggest that the sporting/competitive aspect is at least constant, regardless of the amount of ‘show’ aspect.
      Unless drivers are deliberately trying not to be fast, but instead to be merely entertaining…

      1. From a pure sporting or competition point of view, the fastest lap should be on pole. But, sometimes, the best lap will be in Q2 and we might get a different pole sitter.

        But a see your point. It is still a competion and drivers will do their best to be the quickest. And I do like this format.
        But we all know that this format was brought in to have more people tune in to qualifying, to be more fun to watch.
        A lot of decisions lately were made with entertainement in mind. And I guess I miss sports just being sports. Like, if the sport is good, it’s going to be good entertainement anyway, you know?

    2. People stopped watching qualifying as pure sport. It’s plain simple. It won’t return.
      We get entertainment. We can never watch a superb pole lap because all the top drivers are doing it at the same time. And half the times the qualifying is ruined because yellow flags.
      The open session is a lost cause.

  28. Formula E’s Duels qualifying (which started last year) is clearly the best.
    The critical part of modern F1 qualifying mostly involves watching timing screens as the cars go up the main staight to complete their laps in quick succession. So you miss most people’s laps. It’s susceptible to cheating with deliberate yellow/red flags, and is very dangerous due to 2/3 of the cars on track circulating extremely slowly.
    With Formula E’s duels format, you get to see complete laps, even on a synchronised split screen with split times updated about 10 times throughout the lap. So you can directly compare 2 cars and get instant feedback on how one differnence worked and what didn’t.
    And with regard to cars pushing, the tense format means you only get one chance, so everything counts, yet the punishment for losing duel isn’t a complete disaster, so drivers really push 100%. To illustrate this, in this past weekend, Saturday’s pole winner Jake Hughes had hit the wall at corner apex twice on winning qualifying laps! I don’t remember that happening once in F1. Ever.

  29. In a perfect system, one shot qualifying is the best. But since it’s subject to unfair differences caused by track conditions (most prominently rain, but also temperature and rubber), the current F1 system is probably the best there is.

    In eSports, there’s no reason not to use one shot qualifying. It’s the only format that truly mixes excitement with purity of results. The fastest car will end up at the top, there’s maximum jeopardy and thus maximum skill required, and each individual run is exciting and can be focused on fully by the broadcast.

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