(L to R): Sergio Perez, Max Verstappen, Red Bull; Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023

F1 drivers see “no need” for new qualifying rule being trialled at Imola

2023 Bahrain Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Formula 1 will test a change to its qualifying format in round six of the season at Imola. But its plan to dictates which tyre compound must be used in each segment of qualifying has not impressed drivers.

Currently competitors are free to choose which of a race weekend’s nominated tyre compounds they will use in qualifying. That will change under the new format being trialled at two races this year.

The plan was originally dubbed the Revised Qualifying Format when it was agreed last year. It has since been renamed the ‘Alternative Tyre Allocation’ and will be introduced at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix.

At this event each car will have 11 sets of slick tyres available for the weekend as F1 evaluates a reduction from the usual 12 to cut costs and waste. The allocation will include three sets of the hard compound, four of the medium and four of the soft.

Race start, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023
Poll: Vote for your 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix driver of the weekend
The hard tyres are mandated for use in the first segment of qualifying, drivers who progress to Q2 are only allowed to use medium tyres then, and those who make the top-ten shootout for pole are required to use soft tyres. If any part of qualifying is declared wet, then “any specification of tyre may be used.”

However the three drivers who headed the first qualifying session of 2023 were unimpressed with the planned change when asked by RaceFans for their views on it.

“I hope it’s not going to be cold in Imola. Otherwise it’s going to be quite tricky,” said Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“It’s the same for everyone, but I don’t think we need to actually do these kinds of things in qualifying. I don’t really see the benefit of it.

“It’s better if we make sure that all the cars are close to each other and more competitive instead of spicing things up in that way, which I think is probably for the show.”

The first qualifying session of the new season was considerably closer than it had been 12 months ago. Less than a second covered the top 17 cars in Q1 at Bahrain, the top ten in Q2 was split by 0.845s and the battle for pole was decided in Verstappen’s favour by 0.138s over team mate Sergio Perez.

Nonetheless Perez was no more impressed with the planned change than his team mate. “I just think it’s for the show. I think we don’t need that,” he said.

“When you see the qualifying we had today, how close everything was, you don’t really need to change anything. We’ll see once we try it. But I don’t think there’s a need to change something that is working well.”

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc added: “I don’t feel there was a need for change for that, but let’s try and see.”

Bringing the F1 news from the source

RaceFans strives to bring its readers news directly from the key players in Formula 1. We are able to do this thanks in part to the generous backing of our RaceFans Supporters.

By contributing £1 per month or £12 per year (or the equivalent in other currencies) you can help cover the costs involved in producing original journalism: Travelling, writing, creating, hosting, contacting and developing.

We have been proudly supported by our readers for over 10 years. If you enjoy our independent coverage, please consider becoming a RaceFans Supporter today. As a bonus, all our Supporters can also browse the site ad-free. Sign up or find out more via the links below:

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2023 Bahrain Grand Prix

    Browse all 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix articles

    Author information

    Ida Wood
    Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...
    Claire Cottingham
    Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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

    45 comments on “F1 drivers see “no need” for new qualifying rule being trialled at Imola”

    1. Given how cars work differently on different compounds, I can see how it might make qualifying more interesting and less predictable. So yeah, why not give it a test, might make for a more tactical race in how you have to set-up the car to work well with all compounds.

      1. Coventry Climax
        8th March 2023, 14:04

        This is just downright silly.
        For ‘spicing up the show’, it will be counterproductive: Some teams manage to spice up the order by using softer tyres earlier in the qualification, and the other way round, some teams manage to spice it up through the gamble to use harder ones, and fail at the attempt. That’ll all be gone now.
        If saving on sets of tyres were the objective, then change the points system to awarding more points when less tyres are used. Obviously, that means do away with the current ‘must use 2 compounds during the race’ rule, and bringing back other tyre manufacturers. With a points system worth it, that’s leaving it to the teams to develop cars that are more friendly on rubber and to the manufacturers to develop more ‘sustainable’ tyres. That’ll also bring back some sort of engineering challenge, instead of just snuffing that out gradually, as has been the case lately.

        1. If it’s fixed, break it …

          1. Nearly a Meat Loaf lyric there… If it ain’t broke, break it!

      2. They could flip a coin, it would be even less predictable. This is supposed to be a sport, not a TV drama. Sadly, fans with such taste mostly get what they want, as much artificial excitement as possible… Today people always want it instant, want more and in less time, attention deficiency becomes a norm.

        1. F1 is not a sport. It’s an exclusive race club no outside competitor can enter and the show has been first priority for years now.

    2. I tend to agree that the current qualifying format isn’t broken, so there’s no need to fix it. The fact that the top teams can progress to the next part of qualifying on a step harder tyres than their rivals, giving them a potential advantage come race day, is not caused by the qualifying format but by field spread.

      I’d rather see the teams choose in advance what combination of tyre compounds they want for the weekend, and let them decide how they want to use them in qualifying and the race.

      1. Living in caves wasn’t broken either. Sth being “not broken” is not an argument for anything.

        The current system is great – now that’s an argument. But the new rule isn’t really changing as much as one my think. And I quite like the aspect of making sth more even for everybody.

        1. petebaldwin (@)
          8th March 2023, 9:43

          Living in caves was broken though – it’s cold, there aren’t that many of them, they aren’t necessarily positioned where you want them to be, you can’t design your own and they’re extremely difficult to build or expand upon if you need to. People started building their own homes instead and the benefits of doing so can easily be explained.

          What is the current problem with the qualifying format that this idea will solve? What will it improve upon? I honestly can’t think of anything – only that in Q1, we’ll have lots of cars slowly circulating for a few laps to get heat in the tyres…. More track time I guess (even if it’s slow)… Is that the benefit?

          It’s a bit like saying “having a shower to get clean isn’t broken so there’s no excuse for not setting fire to yourself to see if you end up cleaner that way.” Well….. there is an excuse because it can be clearly demonstrated that setting fire to yourself isn’t a very good idea.

          1. Aaaaah, but it still needs to be demonstrated :-)

          2. Living in caves was good, and better than the alternatives, until someone came up with a better idea.

            The current qualifying format is good, and better than any alternatives we’ve seen before, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look for better solutions.

            I’m no fan of this change, either, but the instant dismissal from so many people of “this qualifying is fine, don’t change it”… If everyone had that attitude, we would still be living in caves.

      2. Yeah, this really seems to be a combination of a “solution” looking for a problem and probably a wish by Pirelli to have the tyres be more visible.

        Nobody outside of them wants this change. We don’t even need to test it to know it will not be better.

    3. No need to spice things up. Doing this loses the essence of the sport. To me there are two formats that are actually good. The current one (for most racetracks) and the former system whereby drivers had to lap once each. This system could be used for races such as Monaco, Hungary, Belgium, and Italy where qualifying is trickier to avoid the fiascos of the past.

    4. Electroball76
      8th March 2023, 8:48

      Love it! Like many, I only tune in to hear in-depth discussions about tyres, and see them in all their rotund glory. Who could fail to get excited over all that rubber in various compounds? More restrictions? Phwoar! This is racing!

    5. I actually don’t see too much harm in trialing it and I usually hate changes for the sake of it. To me it seems a sensible move to encourage more use of all compounds over the weekend where we’ve seen in the past at some races the hard is largely ignored all weekend due to the lack of degradation on the soft and medium. It also rewards teams who haven’t built their car to work in the narrowest working margin. The top 3 drivers will always moan as they want to protect their advantage, poll the rest of the drivers and I think you’d get some differing views.

      1. Exactly, they should ask the drivers who drive garbage cars and have to look for ways to get out of Q1.

    6. Imola is regularly warm in May, so getting tyres up to temp should be a non-issue.
      I don’t mind trialling out different things, although 13 is the standard slick set amount per driver to be precise.

    7. I actually.. kinda like the idea. I mean from a pure sports standpoint it seems sound, everyone on the same tyre for each stage of quali is a fairer fight.

      In terms of the show however.. I’m not sure this even helps. Sometimes it can be quite dramatic and mix up the pack when a faster team thinks they can squeeze through without having to burn up a set of sorts and can end up down the pack as a result, which is surely more interesting than every car being in their appropriate spot on the grid based on speed.

      1. Exactly this, I think it will be less exciting as we won’t have a top team trying to get through on a harder set of tyres accidentally shooting themselves in the foot and failing to get through to Q2 or Q3 and causing a jumbled up grid. Instead, it means the grid is more likely to be ordered by true pace, and so there’s no one fighting their way through during the race.

        1. @f1hornet I agree. I am not sure this idea is going to work really. I think that it will possibly result in there being less opportunity for variation or errors of judgement in the qualifying i.e. good teams starting below where expected and vice versa.

          I suppose they can give it a go but I expect the idea will be abandoned.

      2. “In terms of the show however.” Why not some rear wing flap “openings” at pre-specified track locations?

    8. At this event each car will have 11 sets of slick tyres available for the weekend as F1 evaluates a reduction from the usual 12 to cut costs and waste.

      If the aim is to require teams to use 11 sets of tyres instead of 12 then just say that! You don’t need to tell teams how they need to use their meagre resources, they have the ability to work it out for themselves, and can do it better than someone composing a rule book can. F1 isn’t just a car race and a technology race, it is also a strategy race, so teams should be allowed to decide for themselves which tyres they use and when. If they get it wrong then they only have themselves to blame, they can’t point the finger at the FIA and say it is their fault, and if they win, figuratively speaking, then everyone will admire their foresight and strategy.
      Really it is about time we got rid of this “two tyre types” rule in a race as well. After all the aim is to reduce waste, and if a team or driver thinks using just one set of tyres will give them an advantage in the race then let them do that.
      If the aim is to reduce waste then maybe there should be a rule that lets a team carry over slightly tyres from one Grand prix to the next. So say a team has a slightly used set of medium tyres from this last GP, then why not let them use them at the Saudi Arabian GP, e.g. FP 1, so they have 11 sets of new tyres plus one set of used tyres available to use at that Grand prix?

      1. Good comment. I might add that simply reducing the available tire (sorry, tyre) choice to two compounds for the weekend instead of three might be interesting.

    9. I wonder if we are going to see drivers get in Q3 and not running to saving tires for race, like it was before?

    10. Show over sport.

      1. I also imagine that it’s going to be the slower teams with cars that put less load into tires that are going to suffer as it’s them who tend to have more problems getting the harder compounds upto temperature to begin with.

    11. Revised Qualifying Format is an FIA Sporting Regulations. No need for drivers input on this policy. FIA should enforce this if they were serious about environment impact from the sport. This is a real action, not just some drivers wearing different helmet colour.

      Almost 2,000 times more particle pollution is produced by tyre wear than is pumped out of the exhausts of modern cars. We knew how many more tyres were used during race weekend.

      1. Zoan Kulinski
        8th March 2023, 13:05

        With the billions and billions of tyres that are on the road today why is F1 worried over 20 sets of tyres? This is even as bad or worse that sprint qually. Instead of improving “the show” the FIA seems dead set to ruin F1.

    12. Just bring four or five sets of raceable, durable tyres that are fit for purpose. I’m sick of tyre management, drivers sitting out qualifying, plodding around miles off the pace, great moves explained away by tyre compound or age, teams calling drivers in to go for fastest lap.

      If I want to watch tyres I can go to a tyre fitter or monkey enclosure.

      1. The precise way tyre compounds were applied long ago, when I first started watching F1 in the 1980s and 90s escape me i.e. I don’t remember. But why can they not just have four types of tyre, a full wet (that lasts), an intermediate, a hard/medium and a medium/soft. Then they would need to use both of the standard weather tyres in the race perhaps for a minimum number of laps. But both would be capable of lasting most of a race distance but not all. It would depend on the circuit I realise.

        Probably far too simple.

    13. SanFran (@andrewfrancis80)
      8th March 2023, 13:20

      I think there is nothing wrong with the current qualifying format, however I don’t think it’s a bad thing to use a single race from time to time to trial an idea. Although I don’t think this one is… we might hit upon something that is actually an improvement.

      But my main problem is the current administration do have a a tendency to do something, get a very weak feedback from fans, pundits, teams and drivers but talk very loudly at every camera about how they’ve had overwhelmingly positive feedback and they are pressing ahead it it.

    14. Another qualifying session with an asterisk against it. Fed up with the pointless tinkering.

      If you want to test something, maybe schedule a day where all teams test. Call it testing? The teams could even evaluate their own cars while everyone’s at the circuit and do correlation and other work. Imagine that!

    15. Do these guys not realize that pretty much everything about F1 is ‘for the show’? If you give engineers a 500 million budget like big F1 teams had up until recently, do they really think they couldn’t make a car that’s more than a handful of seconds faster than what people drawing on paper came up with when advanced home computers were running Windows 3.1x?

      I have little enthusiasm for the current qualifying format that inevitably sees the same teams drop out one by one. Not least because the coverage is often reduced to a static shot of the startline while the databar on the left is updating; that’s about as exciting as watching the NASDAQ ticker.

      But this scheme with the tyre compounds is not the way to make qualifying more interesting. First, because spec parts should never be the talking point. Second, because the big teams will inevitably be better at managing than the slower teams. Third, because qualifying is about the ultimate raw speed these cars can muster. So show it – all of it. Single lap qualifying is the way to go.

    16. amazingly, they all look like that impersonator guy from youtube, in this pic

    17. also, kinda ruins the point of watching qualifying for me, the cars being driven properly flat out

      1. Spot on Stefano !

    18. Sorry, but this idea is stupid.

      1. Another Comment spot on, which is exactly what I feel too.

        Has F1 been taken over by Disney by any chance ?

    19. Another step toward a 100% spec series.

    Comments are closed.