Formula 1 looks set to introduce an elimination style qualifying session in 2016.
A meeting in Geneva between the Strategy Group and the Formula 1 Commission saw a unanimous vote passed to revamp the qualifying session for the 2016 season. The session will still remain as a one hour session split into three segments. However, with the new format all drivers will have to be on circuit until they are eliminated from qualifying.
Teams have agreed to a general outline for how the qualifying hour will run while the finer details are yet to be decided. The decision to change the qualifying format must be ratified by the World Motorsport Council on March 4. For now, here is a breakdown of how the qualifying hour will progress:
Q 1 –
- Session will last 16 minutes;
- After seven minutes have elapsed the slowest driver is eliminated;
- Thereafter, after every 1 minute 30 seconds, until the end of Q1, the slowest driver is eliminated;
- Seven drivers will be eliminated in Q1 and 15 will advance to Q2.
Q 2 –
- Session will last 15 minutes;
- After six minutes have elapsed the slowest driver is eliminated;
- Thereafter, after every 1 minute 30 seconds, until the end of Q2, the slowest driver is eliminated;
- Seven drivers will be eliminated in Q2 and 8 will advance to Q3.
- Session will last 14 minutes;
- After five minutes have elapsed the slowest driver is eliminated;
- Thereafter, after every 1 minute 30 seconds the slowest driver is eliminated;
- 2 driver will remain in the final 1 minute 30 seconds of the session to determine pole position.
In addition, a penalty system was discussed by the F1 Commission. The penalty system proposes for time to be added to a driver’s qualifying lap time based on his championship position. The good news is that the penalty system didn’t gain much support amongst F1 teams at the meeting.
The introduction of a new qualifying format is rather perplexing. The last qualifying format had very little, if anything, wrong with and easily managed to both deliver drama and build excitement throughout the session. If the aim is to ‘improve the show’ with this radical change then F1 should beware of compounding the complexity of the sport for a new viewer/fan.