Formula 1 is set to adopt a new, elimination-style qualifying format, in a move that the sport’s bosses hope will increase unpredictability and improve the show for fans.
The plan has been approved in principle and could be implemented for the 2016 season, subject to agreement from the teams who are currently analysing the impact it would have.
The current format of three qualifying sessions with a number of drivers knocked out after each remains broadly the same, but the manner in which those drivers are eliminated changes.
Q1 will last for 16 minutes; after seven minutes, the slowest driver will be eliminated. Then the slowest at the end of every 90 second period until the time is up will be pulled. 15 drivers will go through to Q2.
The process repeats through the remaining sessions: Q2 will last for 15 minutes, with the first elimination after six. Eight drivers will tackle 14 minutes of Q3, with the first elimination after five. The final 90 seconds will be a head-to-head shoot-out for pole between the top two.
Drivers are unsure about the change. Reigning champion Lewis Hamilton said: “I don’t really feel like it’s going to change much. Generally, the format is the same, but it just puts more focus on ensuring you get your laps in. Hopefully it will be good for spectators.”
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo echoed Hamilton’s thoughts. He said: “I don’t know how much it’s going to change. It might put a little bit more pressure on us to executive the lap early in the session.”
Williams pilot Felipe Massa had stronger words: “I don’t know if I like it or not. I need to have a little bit more time to sit down and understand the rules, understand the change. The only thing I understand is that they want to create some chaos, and this will happen for sure.”
The governing F1 Commission also approved plans to add cockpit protection to the cars from 2017, though at this point it’s still unclear what form it will take.
By Only Motors