Qualifying still not ideal

Qualifying still not ideal

The new two-session Saturday qualifying system has not been met with great approval from the drivers so far, most finding the first session pointless. After general discontent with last year's single qualifying session on Friday and again on ...

The new two-session Saturday qualifying system has not been met with great approval from the drivers so far, most finding the first session pointless. After general discontent with last year's single qualifying session on Friday and again on Saturday, it was decided to put them back-to-back together on Saturdays. After the first race weekend of the year at Melbourne, it seems qualifying still needs change.

Saturday press conference: pole winner Michael Schumacher with Rubens Barrichello.
Photo by Bridgestone Corporation.
Bernie Ecclestone wants a return to the original qualifying format of all the cars out on track together: "That would be much more exciting, in my opinion," Ecclestone told the BBC.

"It wasn't done to make it more exciting," he added, of the new qualifying system. "It was done because the teams with the smaller budgets that weren't up front said they never got seen during qualifying because people concentrated on the fast cars. I said that's complete nonsense because if people don't want to watch, they won't watch."

Australian GP winner Michael Schumacher's opinion was that the media and spectators were the ones wanting the change. "There were complaints two or three years ago and it was changed and then more complaints and it was changed so this is what we have," he said in Saturday's FIA press conference. "And now you complain again. Yes, maybe it is fair. For us, too, it is not that interesting. We just sit around and wait."

There isn't much point to the first session, according to Schumacher's Ferrari teammate Rubens Barrichello: "There was no need to go fast, if you see what I mean. I would rather try hard on Friday, because it is part of the weekend -- (in qualifying one) I didn't feel I had to push."

The one engine per weekend rule is also making drivers more cautious. "I think the only strange thing is the first qualifying because it seems to be that only ten per cent of the people were trying to do a time and the rest were trying to take the car around (safely) for the second one," Barrichello added.

Williams' Juan Pablo Montoya agreed that drivers are not going to push too hard in the first qualifying session. "It is very hard to go out and push in the first session and then if you make a mistake and you shunt the car you are 10 places back and you don't have time to change engines or anything," he commented. "So you are going to see in the first qualifying that people are just cruising around."

Ferrari's one-two qualifying result on Saturday had Ecclestone dismayed: "This is not the sort of day we were expecting or wanted to see," he said. "It's a disaster. Ferrari were not supposed to be going this fast." Schumacher declined to answer when asked his opinion of Ecclestone's comment.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , Williams