FIA changes qualifying rules, again

The FIA will change Formula One qualifying rules again ahead of next weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix. The latest wrinkle is aimed at avoiding the danger presented by cars that have finished flying laps for times and are returning as slowly ...

The FIA will change Formula One qualifying rules again ahead of next weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix.

The latest wrinkle is aimed at avoiding the danger presented by cars that have finished flying laps for times and are returning as slowly as possible to the pits to save fuel. Theese slow cars can then impede cars on flying laps.

Saving fuel came into play this season, when rules changed to prevent refueling after qualifying.

"Our clarification to the teams and drivers will be that cars returning to the pits having completed their flying lap or laps will be required to do so within a time that we will set," an FIA spokesman confirmed to Reuters. "This could be approximately 120 percent of the normal time as we do to prevent drivers going very slowly to the grid (on the formation lap) to save fuel."

The FIA action is a response to qualifying in Malaysia, where McLaren drivers Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton were penalized five grid positions each for driving slowly on the race line as they made their way back to the pits after recording qualifying laps. The McLarens impeded Fernando Alonso's Renault and Nick Heidfeld's BMW Sauber, forcing the Spaniard and the German to take evasive moves at high speed.

Current qualifying format is an hour-long, three-round, "knockout" scheme whereby the slowest cars are dropped from each round and times for those who progress are deleted.

Fueling regulations previously produced a final session during which cars burned off fuel to reach optimal flying-lap conditions. Thought to be boring for spectators, that practice was changed this year and the final session that determines pole position was shortened from 15 to 10 minutes. The time was added to the first session in which all cars participate.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Nick Heidfeld , Fernando Alonso , Lewis Hamilton , Heikki Kovalainen
Teams Sauber , McLaren