When the 2016 F1 season unfolds in Melbourne next week, don’t be surprised with the new qualifying format put in place this season. Formula 1 bosses have decided to introduce a new elimination type qualifying session from the start of the season. The new system was unanimously approved by FIA’s World Motor Sport Council Friday.
Williams team principal Claire Williams confirmed that the new qualifying format will indeed be introduced starting March 20 in the Australian Grand Prix.
“It is really important to remember that the whole idea of qualifying was to try and shake up the gird and go into the race and make it a little bit more exciting.” Williams explained.
The board voted for the proposal despite F1 commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone being unsure that the new format would be effective. He preferred giving a time penalty to the race winners instead. Nevertheless, he voted for the proposal believing that there was a need to do something to mix up the grid. With the new format, the organizers expect unpredictability during the race weekends.
While the old format of three-part qualifying sessions was retained, the new ruling will have more regular eliminations during the hour of running. Q1 would run for 16 minutes and after seven minutes, the driver with the slowest time would be eliminated and return to the pit lane. At 90-second intervals, six more drivers would be eliminated before the end of Q1.
Q2 will see 15 drivers racing for positions for 15 minutes. After six minutes, the slowest driver would be knocked off followed by four more at 90 second intervals. In Q3, there will only be 8 instead of 10 drivers who will slug it out for 14 minutes. The driver with the slowest time would be eliminated after 5 minutes then a driver would be knocked off every 90 seconds. The two fastest drivers will battle it out for pole in the final minute and a half of Q3.
Most of the drivers are opposed to the new format because of worries that it might make qualifying too complicated for the fans to follow. In addition, there are concerns that the final shootout may no longer be exciting because drivers may have used up fresh tyres and would not be able to go quicker in the latter stages.
Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel was one of the most vocal regarding the new format. “I’m personally not a fan of the new format. I don’t know what’s wrong with the old qualifying and why they had to change it.”
Photo Courtesy : F1 Wikia.com