Best quote of the day on today’s qualifying was by Damon Hill who said “At this stage, Lewis could have waved his own chequered flag”. Every driver interviewed or giving media sessions has expressed his concern over the new format- mostly negative. I am listing some of the quotes at the bottom of the post. The drivers had dismissed the concept at pre-season testing in Barcelona itself. The Strategy Group will be reconsidering this and rectifying it before Bahrain, as they have been left with little choice.
The problem with the new qualifying: The new elimination system make Q1 and Q2 exciting but it is Q3 that needs to be addressed. Q3 was the part that gave the ant-climatic result. For the front-runners the result didn’t matter. But most drivers found it difficult themselves too acclimatise themselves to the new format, for fans it was even more complicating. The Q3 failed to deliver the show they had planned to make Saturday more interesting, and the purity of the sport is questioned. For the fans more than watching track action, there were too many numbers and time-sheets to pay attention too.
Solution: One solution is to rectify the Q3 part of the qual by having no elimination in that particular segment so that the cars are out on track till the end of the session, unlike today where they were all in the pitlane with four minutes more left to the session. The other solution is to revert back to the old format with a simple Q1, Q2 and Q3 as it has been through the past few seasons, and stick to the basic principle of the quickest driver with the quickest time.
The change and solution is going to cost a lot of money and unanimity in the Strategy Group, and there will be divided opinion on the two solutions mentioned above. But whatever needs to be done will have to be implemented sooner than one can think of.
With reactions on social media breaking the internet with memes and jokes on the new qualifying format, we saw Toto Wolff get a call from Bernie at the Mercedes post-qualifying media session. According to Toto there will be a decision taken ASAP on the matter, and they will get it going this weekend itself. Between the World Motorsport Council (WMSC), FIA, FOM and Formula One Strategy Group a vote online via message or mail will have to be passed on this matter along with a conclusion/solution to address the issue.
As far as we Formula One scribes are concerned, our opinion is as powerless s the drivers, we can only question the rules or raise issues, the decision is eventually in the hands of the stakeholders and the F1 biggies. If there is anything more troubling than the anti-climatic result, it has been a change in the style of writing a qualifying report. Writing a qualifying report never got this easy, but the whole format has changed unfortunately.
I’ll attach the transcript and paddock reactions to this post a few hours later… Hang in there!!