Mixed opinions on new qualifying

It seems not a week goes by without the never-ending qualifying debate being raised and despite the proposal for a new format, opinions continue to differ. Instead of two separate Saturday sessions of one flying lap each per driver -- which makes...

It seems not a week goes by without the never-ending qualifying debate being raised and despite the proposal for a new format, opinions continue to differ. Instead of two separate Saturday sessions of one flying lap each per driver -- which makes qualifying longer than the race in some instances -- the proposed change is to have qualifying revert to one hour overall.

However, that hour would still be split into two sessions, each of 20 minutes with a 20 minute gap in between. Every driver must complete six laps per session and the fastest time from each will be aggregated to produce an overall best time, which will decide the grid. Some think this does not go a long way towards making qualifying simpler, but for the moment that is the concept being considered.

Jaguar's Tony Purnell hopes the new format doesn't just make things worse: "I never saw what was wrong with last year's system but if we get it wrong again, people will think we don't know what we're doing," he said, according to Motorsport News.

But at least an effort is being made. "The fact that we're trying suggests to me that eventually we will get there," he added. "The aggregate thing may have the ability to jumble up the grid much more than people think."

Minardi boss Paul Stoddart thinks the new system is a mistake and hopes it will be decided against. "We have sort of agreed reluctantly," he said. "It will be written down so we don't make another mistake, which I think we are going to make. It is subject to everyone going away and thinking about it and what it is that we might be going to get wrong. So, with a bit of luck, they will chuck the whole lot out."

Stoddart argued that the point of changing qualifying originally, in 2002, was to give the smaller teams more television coverage. The proposed change, he believes, will see that disappear.

McLaren's Ron Dennis thinks the 'show' should come first and is happy with the new idea. "The concept of two sessions of 20 minutes, six laps maximum, with a time gap which is currently 20 minutes was unanimously supported by the teams," he said at the Nürburgring. "There are people making sacrifices so the show is being put first. Obviously there was discussion but it was constructive and everyone was pushing to make it better.

Providing it is agreed on, the new qualifying could be in place for the British Grand Prix, something that the McLaren boss would like to see. "One of the nicer points of changing it from Silverstone on would be that it gives us the possibility of further changes for next year," Dennis added.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Paul Stoddart
Teams McLaren , Minardi