Elimination qualifying gets last-minute reprieve
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 misfired 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 final 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