New qualifying rule stays in Bahrain, pending review

New qualifying rule stays in Bahrain, pending review

For the meantime, F1 fans would have to make do with the new qualifying format in Bahrain.

In a meeting Thursday morning by the F1 Strategy Group, it was decided that the highly-criticized new qualifying format would be retained for next week’s Bahrain Grand Prix. Afterwards, it will be up for review. Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone confirmed this after the meeting last Thursday.

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“The outcome I think is that we are going to stay as we are. After Bahrain, we’re going to have a look at it.” Ecclestone said.

In an article published in Autosport, Ecclestone said that the Strategy Group will have adopt his proposal of leaving things as they are first and then decide whether to scrap or modify the new ruling. The Formula One Commission needs to vote unanimously for any change in the ruling to take effect.

The decision to retain the new qualifying format was in response to the suggestion of Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley, Pirelli Motorsport director Paul Hemberey and Williams Technical Chief Pat Symonds to give the knockout format another chance.

The new rule took effect two weeks before the start of the 2016 season. It was intended to add excitement to qualifying but instead the opposite happened as no cars were left on tracks in the final minutes of Q3, as drivers opted to conserve their tires and settle for grid positions.

After the race, team principals voted for an immediate return to the old format after the shambles that had occurred during qualifying. Mercedes Motorsports Director Toto Wolf was one of the first to voice out his opinion on the new format.

“I’m the very first one to say that we shouldn’t be speaking bad about things on TV but I think the new qualifying format is pretty rubbish.” Wolf said.

In an open letter, the GPDA also slammed the new rule calling the process “obsolete and ill-structured” and demanded reformation. Ecclestone supported the plea for change but refused to immediately revert to the old format saying that something good from the format can be used.

A new hybrid version of the new format is in place already in case the new qualifying rules are scrapped. The hybrid format will have Q1 and Q2 following the knockout format with Q3 following the old format.

Photo Courtesy: Dan Smith/Wikimedia