Thoughts on a qualifying format idea

Viewing 9 posts - 1 through 9 (of 9 total)
  • Author
  • #316030

    I have an idea for how to fix qualifying.

    Returning to the pits is banned. Cars leave the pits every 3 seconds- the order is randomized just before qualifying. Every other lap, every driver sets a time- the slowest one or two are eliminated. Times are wiped, drivers take a lap to cool off, harvest energy etc, then they go again. And so on until you have a winner. It would be awesome- the guys expecting to be in it to the end balancing tyre wear against staying in, the backmarkers caning it round just to survive. It would mix up the grid, mean lots of cars on track, and still be based on skill and strategy. There would have to be a min and a max time for the cool down lap as well to keep things moving.


    If that’s too hectic, have everyone do one lap in clear air at the very start, cut the slowest 10 or so.

    The other option, which is so incredibly obvious, is to separate qualifying tyre limits from race tyre limits so that there’s no benefit to sitting in the garage, and go back to last year’s format.

    Bradley Downton

    If the powers that be seem so keen on an elimination format, let them have one. But the only elimination method I’ve ever seen work well is in a race, so let’s have a race, or three.

    Option 1:
    As Martin Brundle suggested on Twitter, give them 30/45 minute race with free fuel and free tyres, and see what happens.

    Option 2:
    Sticking somewhat with the current format, let’s have three short sprint races. Give them say 16, 16 and 18 minutes for Q1, Q2 & Q3 with a five minute break between each session, with the number of laps dependent on the circuit, the rough aim being that no lap is longer than 2 minutes (in the dry) so they get four minutes (2 laps) to get into each race, then cars start getting knocked out every lap (the car in last). 6 go out in Q1, 6 go out in Q2, then 7 go out in Q3 until the final three are left to cross the line as they are and start in that order. Also either give them free fuel and tyre choice, or make sure they take enough fuel to last them the race(s) and also ensure they have tyres they can push all the way on, and won’t wear out or need replacing, leaving it down to pure racing. And as for those of you asking how the grid for the qualifying race will be decided well, let’s use practice times. Thereby giving practice a meaning too and hopefully ensuring it get’s more cars on track.


    Everything’s too complicated. We need it simple, very simple.

    I’ve always been in favour of a one lap qualifying shootout.

    As in European Football, pull a number out of a box to determine the order. Then each driver has one lap, one televised full hot lap to set his time. Grid is set by fastest lap. Each driver has a pair of new boots on.

    Here’s the link to Buxton’s view of the matter.



    Just keep Q1 and Q2 as they were pre-2016 but make Q3 a single-lap shootout. Have them run in reverse order based on Q2 times, i.e., from 10th fastest to 1st.

    I always thought single-lap qualifying was underrated. It created some very interesting grids, with mistakes being magnified, and if the weather turned then all bets were off. Combine that ‘surprise’ factor with that crescendo when the top drivers took to the track in the final minutes, along with the frantic nature of Q1 and Q2 and we’ll have a format that is both exciting and will produce surprise results without having to resort to some complicated gimmick.


    I think any qualifying suggestion has to take into account the sporting practicalities, the commercial practicalities and, unfortunately, the political practicalities of Formula 1.

    For those reasons, here is my suggestion, in a headline, for a qualifying format idea;

    1.) 12-laps of qualifying over 1 hour.
    2.) 4x 12mins mini-sessions (Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4), with a 3-4mins break in-between.
    3.) NO eliminations. NO knock-outs. NO running order. Drivers CAN finish a lap they’ve started.
    4.) EVERY driver does a single-lap run in EVERY mini-session.
    5.) ALL lap-times count towards a final overall lap-time. Those who don’t run are given a penalty lap-time.
    6.) Fastest starts first. Slowest start’s last.

    For those who are interested, here is a more detailed description as to why I think this would work;

    1.) The 4x 12mins mini-sessions keep things short, sharp and exciting. They also allow for teams to turnaround/improve cars session > session, and for TV to breakaway for adverts and/or titbits of analysis. They also set a provisional grid session > session, so should we get a downpour for example, a grid is already set.

    2.) Never been a fan of elimination-qualifying, and I’ve grown to not become a fan of knock-outs either. The thing is, whichever format you have, the slowest guys are always going to be at the back aren’t they? A knock-out system doesn’t change that, so what’s the point in having it? We might aswell have ALL cars out on circuit as much as possible, getting them as much TV time as possible, and helping these guys to actually survive.

    3.) Obviously, if you’re therefore not going to knock drivers out, you need some other “deterrent,” and this is where the “single-lap” together with the “ALL lap times count towards your final lap-time” comes in. We all know the merits and pit-falls of single-lap qualifying, but under this system, you get all of it’s benefits, and none of it’s downfalls. You still get the pressure, excitement and adrenaline of the single-lap, BUT, they take place inside 4 mini-sessions, so the effects of rain, track improvement etc are negligable. Also, there’s no running order, so it’s completely fair to all.

    4.) Carrying on from the above point, obviously a big PRO for single-lap qualifying was the fact of guaranteed TV coverage. It might seem like this system stomps all over that, but, if you remember back to the “old” 12-lap qualifying hours, you’ll remember the small teams went out first, and the big teams went out last. It’s almost an unwritten rule in F1, and this is partly because the smaller teams KNOW they aren’t going to get Pole, so they go out early when the track is empty to maximise their opportunity for their optimum lap-time, but also because this gives their sponsors advertising visibility. Under this system, the exact same would happen. At the start of the session, the small teams go out, at the end, the big guys go out. The small teams get their visibility up front, only now it’s multiplied across 4 sessions, and the big guys get there’s at the end. This naturally gives you your crescendo too.

    5.) As we’re doing 4x single-lap qualifying runs, you only need 4 qualifying tyres from your total allocation of 13 sets for the weekend, so it slots in with the current tyre rules rather nicely.

    My final point is really more of a summary. F1 trying to mix up the grids through qualifying is fundamentally wrong. Qualifying is about driver and car being on the absolute limit, on that knife-edge between setting their ultimate lap-time, or sticking it in the barrier. That is what this qualifying system achieves.

    Any attempts to mix up the race, should, in my view, be done with rules on “race start tyres.” Starting the top 5 on a “used” set of the softest compound for that particular race weekend for example, would drop them back into the pack inside a handful (maybe 2) of laps, and from there, you then have your jumbled up running order. This same rule could extend in a pro-rata fashion down the grid, so positions 6>10 start on a “used” version of the middle compound tyre for that weekend, and positions 11>22 get free choice.

    There are numerous variants of that kind of rule which you could play around with, but the premise is solid.

    So, the above is how I would sort out qualifying (and spice up the grand’s prix). Apologies for the dissertation, but sometimes I think it helps to explain WHY, as opposed to just writing a concept.

    I hope you guys agree :).


    What about doing it formula e style?
    Random groupings of 4/5 cars, fastest of each group go into a pole shootout to determine the top positions on the grid.
    Usually throws some excitement into the grid. Also decreases the chance of a merc lockout of the front row!


    @azulio so every 2 laps times are wiped out? Tyres won’t get any faster, just slower. Even if it worked as a hectic method to keep qualifying alive, it would result contradictory to have a pole sitter with slower times than somebody who was dropped in 12th place, so to speak. How are the laps measured, respect to whom I mean? What if the guy who was running 1st decides to go at SC speeds on the second lap, to save tyres. What would be the referencial lap then? We might end up watching a fast “quali” lap, then cars going very slow because the second lap doesn’t count, right? they could try to improve the lap time on the second lap, but the clocks would get all our attention.
    You say pits are banned, but what about a car crashing, so quali continues? Are cars supposed to stay out?
    I don’t know, so many more questions already.
    And don’t get me started about sponsors wanting their 5 min break for TV ads.


    Keep the 3 sessions but do it differently to before. Instead of removing the slower cars at the end each of the first two sessions they should “promote” the faster cars straight through to the third session. Like this:

    Q1 – 20 minutes with all the cars. The cars that finish P1 to P5 leapfrog straight into Q3, the cars that finish P6 and below progress to Q2.

    Q2 – 15 minutes with all the cars that finished P6 and below in Q1. The cars that finish P1 to P5 progess to Q3, the cars that finish P6 and below fill the grid from P11 to last place.

    Q3 – 10 minutes with all the cars that finished P1 to P5 in Q1 and P1 to P5 in Q2. The result decides P1 to P10 on the grid.

    For every session everyone is allowed to improve their laptime right up to when they take the chequered flag, as was the usual situation for qualifying in the past.

    I think this will be an improvement on the previous format because it will mean every driver will be pushing to make the top 5 in each of Q1 and Q2 instead of just trying to be in the top 15 or top 10, this will make it more exciting for the spectators, more fun for the drivers and could potentially lead to a more mixed up grid because there could well be an increase in the number of errors due to to the need for everyone to push right from the start.

    Also, every driver will have two chances to make the final session instead of just those who made it in to the second session. I believe this would be fairer because the previous knockout format too heavily penalised a driver whose car had a problem of some sort at the start of qualifying, couldn’t get a proper lap completed in the first session and was eliminated. Under the system I have described there would be more time for the mechanics to fix the problem and give their driver a chance in the second session to make it.


    I don’t see the increasing lap times as an issue, it’s more of a last man standing vibe than fastest lap. To clarify, the 2nd, 4th, 6th laps wouldn’t count, so each driver only has one timed lap in each iteration.

    For crashes I guess that lap would be voided, then have a SC/VSC until it’s safe.

    The lack of commercial space is a legitimate gripe, maybe have a pit stop when you get down to ten to put on fresh boots and create a few minutes of inaction for an ad break?

    I like Jacky’s idea too of making Q3 a single lap shootout, kinda like a cycling time trial.

Viewing 9 posts - 1 through 9 (of 9 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.