F1

Qualifying still not settled

Qualifying still not settled

At the end of last season the FIA announced a new qualifying system for 2005 but it seems that there could still be changes yet. The new format is not entirely different from what we saw in 2004; two sessions of a single flying lap per driver....

At the end of last season the FIA announced a new qualifying system for 2005 but it seems that there could still be changes yet. The new format is not entirely different from what we saw in 2004; two sessions of a single flying lap per driver. The main changes are that there will be one session on Saturday afternoon and one on Sunday morning, as opposed to both on Saturday, and the times will be aggregated to decide the grid.

Paul Stoddart.
Photo by Brousseau Photo.

The other minor change is that the running order of the first session will be decided by the reverse order of finishing positions in the last race. In 2004 the cars ran in finishing order. So now that we have a grasp of what's to come, it may not happen like that at all. Some team bosses are as frustrated with the situation as the fans are.

"Qualifying is up in the air. No one knows what is going to happen," said Minardi principal Paul Stoddart, according to Motorsport News. "We can't keep changing qualifying every year. Imagine if you changed the rules of football every year for the last four years -- you'd have chaos on your hands."

Stoddart conceded that the single lap qualifying is better for his team but what he would mostly like is a format that doesn't keep changing. "The current single lap qualifying does help the smaller teams like Minardi and Jordan as it guarantees airtime, but the most important thing is stability," he said.

"Some people would like to see a return to the old qualifying, even though TV might have to deal with 20 minutes of no action on the track. We can find a compromise but the most important people in this sport are the 300 million who get up day and night to watch our races. They are our customers at the end of the day."

Tony Purnell, Red Bull's managing director, who previously proposed a system of mini-races to decide the grid, said recently that he thought there was a good chance that qualifying would change again. So for 2005 we could have yet another unnecessarily complicated format.

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