New qualifying format for 2019?

Hands up who remembers the failed attempt to change qualifying in 2016? Yes the last hurrah by Bernie Ecclestone to fix a problem F1 didn’t have…

Of course, there was method behind the madness. The change in quali was an attempt to mix up the grid, potentially removing the faster cars from the front by teams making errors in their timings. The countdown formula for F1 was not exactly popular.

“We wanted to improve the show and we went in the wrong direction,” Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff said.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner added: “It was done with the best intentions, to try to shuffle the grid around and create more excitement and to help the promoters. and unfortunately that didn’t happen. We gave it a go. The responsible thing has happened, the teams collectively have agreed it didn’t work and to go back with immediate effect.”

The failed 2016 elimination system consisted of three separate qualifying segments to decide the grid, albeit under a changed format as set out below:

Q1

– 16 minutes
– After 7 minutes, slowest driver eliminated
– Slowest driver eliminated every 1 minute 30 seconds thereafter until the chequered flag
– 7 drivers eliminated, 15 progress to Q2

Q2

– 15 minutes
– After 6 minutes, slowest driver eliminated
– Slowest driver eliminated every 1 minute 30 seconds thereafter until the chequered flag
– 7 drivers eliminated, 8 progress to Q3

Q3

– 14 minutes
– Ater 5 minutes, slowest driver eliminated
– Slowest driver eliminated every 1 minute 30 seconds thereafter until the chequered flag
– 2 drivers left in final 1 minute 30 seconds

In each session, the final elimination occurred at the chequered flag, rather than when the time is up.

The new system was changed with immediate affect.

The proposed 2019 version

The latest proposal for 2019 is to add an additional session, making qualifying Q1, Q2, Q3 then Q4.

In each session, 4 drivers are eliminated resulting in the last session pole position shootout of only 8 drivers instead of 10.

The  thinking behind the change is that the additional session will increase the unpredictability for the top teams, making it more likely they’ll slip up and start at a lower grid slot.

Race director Charlie Whiting is less inclined to go with the plan saying:

“They’re doing lots of polls, and they think that’s one of the things the fans would like,

“Slightly shorter sessions, a little less time in between, four out in Q1, four in Q2, four in Q3, then eight are left. I think it’s a pretty nice idea. But it’s not my choice, ” continues Whiting.

Other aspects will be discussed too, one of which being the tyre allocation for the sessions. Criticism over the lack of running of some teams in Q2 granting automatic promotion to Q3 for some.