In defence of F1’s new qualifying format

One session with the new for 2016 qualifying format in Formula One and many aren’t impressed and are either calling for there to be changes or for the format to be scrapped altogether.

But I would urge the sport to calm down slightly and have a deeper look into why the new format didn’t work and seemed to make qualifying boring, rather than more exciting.

Mercedes'
150705 F1 British Grand Prix Race Day-173” by Franziska is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Many, to me, are solely blaming the new format when I feel the teams actually need to take some of the blame. The new format works brilliantly if the cars are fueled up and are allowed to pound round, creating a mini race in qualifying where getting a lap time out of the car on heavy fuel and worn tyres is critical. This is where the entertainment can be found in the new format.

However what fans were treated to was a new qualifying format with teams using the old qualifying strategy of going for one or two lap runs before diving into the pits for new tyres and refueling. This is where the teams got caught out and to me is why it wasn’t as exciting as it should have been.

The new format doesn’t allow teams to do low fuel runs and wait around in the garage for an ideal gap on the circuit to open up anymore. Now if you do that, and have a slow enough time, you will get punished.

This to me is correct, you want to see cars on the track and not in the garages. But you had teams doing exactly that under the old qualifying format, you just had the normal qualifying session clock counting down instead of a personal one for the lowest ranked driver.

Ultimately for the new format to work in its present state, teams need to be forced to send their drivers out on heavier fuel loads and for the driver either to overcome degrading tyres or send them out on the hardest compound available. The driver that is able to get the quickest time on heavier fuel and a tyre losing performance every lap, is the driver that gets rewarded in the new qualifying format, it may not be ideal, people certainly won’t like it, but it would give a greater potential of mixing the grid up than the old format.

2016 F1 Ferrari
Test F1 2016 Montmeló” by Emilio García is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

 

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