At a Formula One commission meeting in London on October 24th it was agreed to introduce a new qualifying format for 2006. Reportedly not everyone was happy with the idea of a knockout system but it appears that the current single flying lap format will be discarded in favour of a three-part hour in which the slowest five cars will be dropped at intervals of 15 minutes.
After two 15 minute periods the field will be narrowed down to 10 drivers who will then have a 20 minute open session to contest pole position. The format hopes to create on-track action and bring back excitement after the current system, which has been criticized by many for being boring. It's the latest in a long line of qualifying ideas in the past few years, none of which have been popular.
"Five changes in as many years...I just worry about trying to educate the public why we go ahead with 10 cars in the last 20 minutes," departing Minardi boss Paul Stoddart told Reuters. "Formula One is blessed that it has 180 odd million people watching it every two weeks and I don't think we ought to mess with things too much."
Tyre changes during a race will also make a return next season. This was another bone of contention, with some team bosses not wanting the changes bought back in. However, the tyre rules have caused much controversy this season and the majority are happy to see tyre changes back again.
The FIA also announced a new proposal for a Centreline Downwash Generating Wing (CDG) -- did Ron Dennis come up with that name? -- which, together with wider wheels and slick tyres, is part of the proposed 2008 technical regulations. The hope is to encourage more overtaking and the FIA could introduce the change by 2007 with the right support.
The FIA claims it took note of the survey it conducted in partnership with AMD, in which 94% of participants wanted to see more overtaking. However, if the FIA really is paying attention, why did it not take notice of the 70% that would prefer qualifying to be decided by the best time from a specified number of flying laps?