Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Hungaroring, 2023

Added “jeopardy” of new qualifying rule is not right for F1 – Leclerc

2023 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc is not convinced the new rules Formula 1 will trial this weekend are right for the sport.

The series will trial its ‘Alternative Tyre Allocation’ for the first time this weekend. The regulations were originally called the ‘Revised Qualifying Format’ because they limit which tyres drivers may use in each stage of qualifying.

Ordinarily drivers have free choice of tyres in qualifying sessions and tend to pick the softest rubber. This means they get through several sets of tyres over the course of Q1, Q2 and Q3.

This weekend drivers will be given fewer sets of the soft tyres and the rules state they may not use them in Q1 or Q2. Drivers must run on hard tyres in Q1 and the medium compound in Q2.

However Leclerc is concerned about the effect that may have on the rest of the weekend. “It’s going to be very tricky because also the free practice preparations are quite a lot mixed,” he said.

“I feel like we are going to see many different programs in FP1, FP2, FP3 along the grid because there are so many different options you can choose now with this new format. So we’ll see. It can be an opportunity, obviously, [or] if you take the wrong decisions then you can have a bad way for your weekend. But it’s part of the game.”

Trying to set competitive lap times on harder rubber in qualifying will pose another challenge, said Leclerc. “I think Q1 and Q2 will be tricky also with different compounds, it’s something that we are not really used to push on a hard tyre in a qualifying mode. So I think that will be quite new for everyone and this might be a surprise for a few people.”

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Although it may create more variability in teams’ performances this weekend, Leclerc doesn’t see that as a positive for F1, and expects teams will quickly master the new rule if it remains in place.

“I don’t think, at least, that the jeopardy should be a part of the sport,” he said. “I think the best one should win.

“It might be a bit of an unknown for now, the more we do these formats I think more people will know how to expect and more things will come back into the right order.”

“Maybe after qualifying we’ll know more about it,” he added. “But it’s going to be very tricky with the amount of tyres we have.

“You obviously need to run those tyres at one point, maybe during free practice or not by choice. But this is why it makes things very unpredictable for now.”

As the total number of tyre sets has been reduced from 13 to 11, much less running could occur in practice unless teams decide to run their race simulations on worn rubber, said Leclerc.

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“There are two approaches, we will either see much less running or the same amount but in very different conditions for everybody. You can either choose to do the high-fuel runs with a very old set or with a completely new set. This was less the case with the other formats where it was much more easy to anticipate what the others will do.”

Some of Leclerc’s concerns are shared by his rivals. With rain forecast for Friday, Esteban Ocon is concerned very little running might take place.

“Let’s wait and see but so far, I think yes, I think it’s not going in the right direction,” said the Alpine driver. “If P2 is wet, for example, tomorrow, I believe that we are going to see 10 laps in the day.”

Valtteri Bottas suspects the change in the qualifying rules could disrupt the competitive order on Saturday.

“In qualifying we have seen sometimes difference of some cars being better on certain compounds, and for us the same. Sometimes we can get one compound to work but not maybe the softest ones for some reason or the hardest one. So it could mix things up a little bit.

“Qualifying on the hard compound would be quite interesting, like what is going to be the run profile and so on, how many laps? Do you have to use two sets of those [tyres]? So I think it will spice things up a bit. Then we will see after the qualifying how it was.”

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2023 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Author information

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...
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...

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16 comments on “Added “jeopardy” of new qualifying rule is not right for F1 – Leclerc”

  1. Qualifying is one of the few things that isnt broken. Lets mess it up..

    1. The Dolphins
      20th July 2023, 18:25

      Does feel like it.

    2. Were people really excited about a bunch of slower cars trying to escape Q1 by using up all their soft tyres?

      The main event, that being Q3, was already a one-compound deal, just the softer one rather than the harder one.

    3. Stop repeating that nonsense. Qualifying is the worst part of an F1 weekend. It needs to change.

  2. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
    20th July 2023, 18:33

    Why not do this experiment on a track that isn’t so qually dependent?

    1. Thanks to the 2022 regulations, there is good racing* regardless of the track characteristic.

      (*For this purpose all DRS passes shall be considered good racing.)

  3. Jumping to conclusions unnecessarily hastily, I see.
    I don’t see any downsides in ATA & don’t think it’ll affect competitive order.

    1. WOuldnt it affect slower teams hardly?
      I mean, some team could use soft on Q2 or Q3 to improve performance compared to usually faster cars using mediums or hards.
      I suspect that the grid will essentially be a 2 by 2 based on the usual team performance, barring some driver error.

      1. No one uses mediums in Q2 anymore.

        1. @fordmondeo Indeed, except on Sprint weekend Shootout qualifying &, of course, under ATA experiment.
          @alianora-la-canta More unpredictability until teams would wholly adapt eventually.

    2. @jerejj I’m not seeing any upsides, unfortunately, unless you count taking fewer tyres to the track (which would be just as feasible by simply removing 2 sets of tyres from the previous system).

  4. I think the new qualifying format is a brilliant idea. It doesn’t make things any less fair because the situation is the same for everyone, but it increases the level of unpredictability, as well as the element of adaptability from teams, and should be more sustainable. I don’t see any downsides to this idea and hope it catches on.

    However, in general this season there have been a lot of great qualifying sessions and mixed up grids, but overtaking has become so easy that qualifying doesn’t feel as important any more. The more F1 can make qualifying interesting and create mixed grids, the more it would be improved by scrapping DRS.

  5. Qualifying should be about pure laptime performance to set the grid based on car performance.

    Any attempt to turn qualifying into more of a lottery and/or to alter it’s purpose to mix up the grid via artificial means should have no place in any discussion.

    But then we are in the show over sport era where nobody seems to care about the integrity of the sport and any fans that still do are simply told to go away.

    F Liberty!

    1. I know I shouldn’t take the bait but… you know the FIA did this change and not Liberty? And that no part of this change mentioned shaking up the grid? Do you live like this??

    2. Surely this proposal reinforces the notion of ‘pure laptime performance’ rather than detracting from it given that one of the external variables to laptime is being removed? I can’t really see how a lottery can occur in qualifying, the race however could be impacted much more given effective tyre limitations in free practice.

      I’m neutral on this but in order to qualify for pole you will still need to have a fast car on soft tyres as before. Only difference is that you have to demonstrate speed on medium and hard as well.

      1. It’s interesting, yes, a car might be bad on a certain compound, we’ve seen that a lot in 2021, with merc better on hard and red bull on medium and softs, especially early season, so that in the race merc was better off and in quali red bull was.

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