We could have given Star Driver just to Romain Grosjean but, in truth, sixth for a team on its F1 debut is about much more than just one man. OK, the Haas VF-16 wasn’t particularly rapid and does benefit from Ferrari input, but to be competitive and reliable enough to score six points – more than the last three new outfits combined – was no mean feat, and was a fillip for F1.
Formula 1 teams will lobby for the sport to revert back to its old qualifying format for the Bahrain Grand Prix onwards, after the new system was met with scathing criticism in Australia.
Teams, drivers and fans alike slammed the new qualifying format after its trial run in Australia proved disastrous. The new rules dictated that cars would be eliminated from qualifying at 90-second intervals during each of the three sessions – a system that left many confused and drivers being eliminated while in the pit garages. Teams also struggled to service cars in the timescales, leading to a flurry of activity early on and quiet ends to sessions.
Qualifying three was the biggest failure, with many of the fastest cars choosing to do a single quick run and then save tyres for the race. It meant all times were set with four minutes of the session still remaining. Sebastian Vettel even had time to be weighed and change out of his race suit before the clock had ticked to zero.
After scathing criticism on Saturday, teams held crunch talks in Melbourne on how to address the situation as quickly as possible. Mercedes’ Toto Wolff said teams were united in their calls to revert back to the traditional qualifying format from Bahrian onwards, but any such move must first be ratified by both the FIA’S F1 Commission and its F1 Strategy Group – the factions that imposed the new format in the first place.
Wolff said: “There was a meeting, with a unanimous decision taken to go back to the old format from Bahrain onwards. It needs to be ratified by the F1 Commission, but I would like to see who puts his hand up for [Saturday’s] qualifying.
“There were some teams that thought [retaining the knockout format] for Q1 and Q2 would shake things up and be interesting, but fundamentally common sense prevailed. We are now back to something we understand, where we have regulations and not reinvent something new.
“We would look really silly if there was a new compromise for next week, and then again we didn’t like it.”