Elimination qualifying could be back on for Melbourne

Formula 1's elimination style qualifying could be back on track for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix following latest discussions between teams.

Elimination qualifying could be back on for Melbourne
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB11
Felipe Nasr, Sauber F1 Team
Nico Hulkenberg, Sahara Force India F1 VJM08
Max Verstappen, Scuderia Toro Rosso STR10
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB12
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF16-H

Having been approved by F1 chiefs and teams last week, the knock-out system was dramatically put on hold after Bernie Ecclestone's FOM company said it could not prepare time keeping systems in time.

However, following meetings between team managers and the FIA at pre-season testing at Barcelona to look in more detail about the pros and cons of the idea, a revised compromise system has received support.

The preferred plan that has emerged is for Q1 and Q2 to run as the knock-out system originally intended, and then Q3 to remain as it has been in recent years.

Only eight cars, rather than the current 10, would run in Q3.

It is not clear, however, if this will be able to come into force as early as Melbourne or will have to be delayed until later in the season.

For although there appears to be a preliminary agreement over the matter, the changes will still need to be ratified by the FIA's World Motor Sport Council that meets on Friday if they are to be put in to the regulations.

Prior to that, because changes involve revised wording to regulation, it may also have to go through the Strategy Group and F1 Commission - where it will need to get unanimous support.

In light of Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne's comments outlining his opposition to qualifying, such backing may not be forthcoming.

The governing body has already published a final version of its 2016 F1 Sporting Regulations and the format of qualifying there is for the old system to remain.

FOM time keeping

It is unclear how much Ecclestone has been consulted on the new plan, and whether or not FOM is able to sort out the timing systems for an elimination style in Q1 and Q2 only as soon as Melbourne.

McLaren racing director Eric Boullier said he was still awaiting confirmation on what qualifying system would be in place for Melbourne.

"Yesterday was just a discussion and everybody gave their opinion about what will happen," he said.  "It was a little bit more of a thinking process about the next qualifying. But I am not aware of any change of format or anything.

"The idea is something like a Q1 and Q2 change, but not Q3. And introduction is we don't know when, so let's wait. 

"Every time I do an interview there is a different version coming, so let's wait until it is official and then we can comment."

 

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