Qualifying proposals put to public vote

Qualifying proposals put to public vote

Surveys seem to be the in thing at the moment and following the FIA's poll of public opinion on various aspects of Formula One, qualifying has now been put forward as another topic to vote on. According to the official F1 website, the teams have...

Surveys seem to be the in thing at the moment and following the FIA's poll of public opinion on various aspects of Formula One, qualifying has now been put forward as another topic to vote on. According to the official F1 website, the teams have come up with two ideas for a new qualifying format and are looking for public feedback.

Renault F1 team members watch qualifying.
Photo by LAT Photographic.

Both proposals have done away with the individually timed laps format and have no fuel restrictions. One is based on a system where there are two 25 minute 'halves', separated by a ten minute break, wherein drivers can run as many laps as they wish but they must set a time in each half. The best time from each will be added for the final time to decide the grid positions.

The alternative option is a session in which the slowest five drivers are dropped after 15 minutes and will qualify 16th upwards. After another 15 minutes the next five slowest are dropped and will take positions 11 to 15. The remaining 10 cars then have half an hour to fight it out for positions pole to 10th. Again, drivers may run as many laps as they want.

There are, of course, pros and cons to each format which will no doubt cause some debate. On one side, abandoning the individually timed laps system will be greeted with relief by many. The fans find it less than exciting to watch and drivers who failed to finish the previous race are penalised by having to run early with poor track conditions.

With no fuel restrictions drivers can just go for fast laps rather than take race strategy into account. Many times this season we've seen a large gap between teammates in qualifying as one ran a heavy fuel load in consideration for the race, while one was light to get a high grid position. Fans want to see drivers going flat out for a good time, not playing around with fuel loads.

On the other side, the first proposal is based on an aggregate time system which nobody was particularly keen on when it was in place earlier this season. Some found it confusing, others just found it irritating and overall it was not very popular. Drivers and fans alike want to know the grid positions without having to get their calculators out.

For the second proposal there is the point that drivers having to set a time in the first 15 minutes or be dropped will ensure that spectators are not sitting around waiting for some action. However, a grid full of cars charging out onto a green track to fight for space in only 15 minutes seems a bit haphazard. Maybe that's the idea but it's a bit contrived.

One thing this qualifying poll seems to have failed to take into account is what the fans have already said they would like to see. In the FIA survey 70% of the voters would prefer the grid to be decided by a driver's best time from a specified number of flying laps. So, pretty much like the old format before people started mucking about with it…

For full details and to vote on the qualifying formats, visit www.formula1.com

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Series Formula 1