Formula One is looking at altering its existing qualifying format for 2019 in the hope of creating more unpredictability.
F1’s decision-making Strategy Group is considering expanding the current system, which involves three separate qualifying sessions. Five drivers are eliminated in Q1 and Q2, leaving 10 drivers in the Q3 shootout for pole position.
The new idea centres around adding a fourth session involving eight cars, meaning fewer drivers would be eliminated from the previous segments, which would be reduced in time from the existing three. It is hoped the proposed format could add to the risk of the top three teams being eliminated early and starting out of position.
“It’s something that’s come from F1,” F1 race director Charlie Whiting said. “They’ve been doing a lot of research among fans, and they feel this is one of the things that the fans would like.
“Slightly shorter [sessions], slightly shorter time between them, four go out in Q1, four, four, leaving eight. I personally think it’s quite a nice idea, but that’s not my decision.”
The Russian Grand Prix exposed a flaw in the existing system and the current allocation of race tyres. The rules state the ten who make it through to Q3 must start on the tyre used to set their quickest Q2 tyre. In Russia, the hyper-soft tyre was not a good option for the race and Renault opted against setting any time in Q2, meaning it started down the order but on the more favourable soft tyre.
Whiting said the tyre allocation is still to be discussed and agreed.
“Our next action is to see exactly what would be required tyre wise. I can’t honestly remember what Q4 was [proposed to be] in length — I think it was 10 minutes — and thus whether or not you could do two runs with two sets of tyres in Q4. That’s something that needs to be looked at carefully.”