Qualifying doubts continue

Unsurprisingly, the qualifying saga is still rolling on and despite the teams agreeing to a new, one-hour format, there are still doubts about it. The new system, of two 25 minute sessions separated by a 10 minute break, looks likely to be ...

Unsurprisingly, the qualifying saga is still rolling on and despite the teams agreeing to a new, one-hour format, there are still doubts about it. The new system, of two 25 minute sessions separated by a 10 minute break, looks likely to be introduced at the British Grand Prix. The teams may have agreed on it but that doesn't necessarily mean they think it's going to work.

Speaking at yesterday's FIA press conference, Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn admitted it was not easy to find a solution. "I think it's very difficult to find a format which is perfect for everybody," he said. "I think we all have our ideas and this is a format that has been proposed by Bernie (Ecclestone), so really he's got to take responsibility for it if it doesn't work."

"I'm a little concerned that we don't keep making too many changes. I think it doesn't reflect well on Formula One. This is our third format of qualifying this year and I really hope we get it right this time, because I don't think it's a good thing that we keep changing the format of racing."

However, despite his concerns, Brawn is looking forward to what the new format may bring. Teams will be able to decide their own fuel levels during qualifying, so we will likely see a return to flat-out flying laps with light cars. "It will mean that we're back to running whatever fuel we want in the race and the cars will be qualifying with their minimum weight, so that's interesting," he commented.

Rubens Barrichello is dubious about the grid being decided on aggregate times from the two sessions. Some feel this idea is confusing and Barrichello certainly sounded a little confused about it. "The only thing I'm not too sure about is the aggregate, because it's something that it's the ultimate that counts, even though you can go back to your bad thing, or I could have done a little bit better," said the Brazilian.

"You know the time will vary too much so maybe the guy won't be first and he's going to be third but he's the faster one, and he's going to overtake on the racing track. But that's too new for me, I don't know if I like it."

It's not only the teams that are doubtful -- television broadcasters are concerned about 'dead time', as drivers may chose to wait until towards the end of each session to go out as the track conditions get better. This used to happen with the previous system, when sometimes over 30 minutes of the hour-long qualifying would go by without any track action.

It could present a problem again, but with drivers required to do six laps in each 25 minute session, there's not going to be a lot of time to waste with the new format. At the moment it's a little unclear if six laps per driver are compulsory or if that is the maximum they are permitted, and could choose to do less.

The FIA has to ratify the change and is expected to do so at a World Motor Sport Council meeting at the end of this month. "It is a formality now," said team boss Frank Williams. "I think there is some reservation that maybe what we are doing presently is maybe better than what we are going to do in Silverstone, if it happens."

Williams explained the new format, as he understands it. "There is again only one official qualifying session and that is split into two 25-minute sessions with a ten-minute gap in between and each team is allowed to do a total of six laps, is allowed to use four sets of tyres for that first 25 and the second 25 session and you must start the race on the tyres on which you qualified."

"Your qualification time is based on the aggregate for the -- first time ever in Formula One -- on the best lap of the first 25 minutes and the second 25 minutes."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Rubens Barrichello , Ross Brawn , Frank Williams
Teams Ferrari , Williams