Elim­i­na­tion qual­i­fy­ing gets last-minute re­prieve

F1 Racing - - INSIDER -

Con­tro­ver­sial qual­i­fy­ing sys­tem es­capes the axe as For­mula 1’s stake­hold­ers fail to reach agree­ment on a bet­ter so­lu­tion

For­mula 1 re­tained the new elim­i­na­tion qual­i­fy­ing for­mat for the Bahrain Grand Prix, in spite of teams agree­ing that it should be dropped im­me­di­ately af­ter it misred at the sea­son opener in Aus­tralia. Fun­da­men­tally in­com­pat­i­ble with the cur­rent tyre reg­u­la­tions, the sys­tem bamboozled fans and com­men­ta­tors – and left the track empty in the nal mo­ments of Q3 as the top driv­ers saved tyres for the race.

Team bosses and sport­ing di­rec­tors held an emer­gency meet­ing on race-day morn­ing in Mel­bourne and agreed unan­i­mously to re­vert to the pre­vi­ous sys­tem. But that de­ci­sion car­ried no leg­isla­tive weight, and F1’s Strat­egy Group – which in­cludes other stake­hold­ers be­sides team rep­re­sen­ta­tives – sub­se­quently voted to per­se­vere with the elim­i­na­tion for­mat and eval­u­ate it af­ter Bahrain.

The new for­mat was in­tro­duced be­cause Ec­cle­stone told the teams he in­sisted on chang­ing qual­i­fy­ing to spice up races. He gave them two choices: the elim­i­na­tion for­mat, and a dif­fer­ent one which re­tained the old qual­i­fy­ing but then shufed the top eight cars, ei­ther by re­vers­ing them or re-or­der­ing them based on their nish­ing po­si­tions in the pre­vi­ous race.

The teams voted for the elim­i­na­tion for­mat be­liev­ing it the “least worst op­tion”, ac­cord­ing to Mercedes boss Toto Wolff. When the change was agreed, the FIA asked the sport­ing di­rec­tors to an­a­lyse it. They identied the is­sue that the end of Q3 was likely to fea­ture no ac­tion be­cause of the lim­ited tyre quota, but the World Coun­cil voted to im­pose the sys­tem any­way.

“It is an ex­cit­ing for­mat, a shoot-out,” Wolff said, “as long as you are ca­pa­ble of trans­mit­ting that in the right way on the tele­vi­sion.”

Ec­cle­stone pub­licly backed the de­ci­sion to keep the faith un­til Bahrain, say­ing, “Af­ter that we will then have a good look and de­cide whether what was done was the right thing to do, the wrong thing to do, does it need mod­i­fy­ing, does it need scrap­ping?”

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