Qualifying stirs up controversy

Saturday qualifying at the British Grand Prix was a bit of a strange event, with many drivers deciding to set a slow first lap in the hope of getting out early in the second session and avoid the predicted rain. But the fans were dismayed to see...

Saturday qualifying at the British Grand Prix was a bit of a strange event, with many drivers deciding to set a slow first lap in the hope of getting out early in the second session and avoid the predicted rain. But the fans were dismayed to see cars doing half-hearted laps and teams faced criticism for playing with strategy.

The system of qualifying has been blamed by some. "I think it is the end result of the qualifying format," said Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello, who opted to fake a mistake in his first flyer. "We should look to make the format a little bit better."

Renault's Pat Symonds thinks the situation underlined that a two session qualifying is pointless. "It only goes to reinforce our view that there is nothing wrong with single lap qualifying, but that the first session is unnecessary," he commented.

Some think the drivers who put in a slow first lap should be penalised, but as pole man Kimi Raikkonen asked, how can anyone actually prove a driver was deliberately driving slowly?

"How can you judge if they were slowing down or had a problem?" Said the Finn. "If I was two seconds off or three seconds off it doesn't mean that I was slow. The rules are not very clear, so you cannot really penalise them anyway."

Barrichello admitted his trip over the grass at Vale on his first lap was deliberate. "It seemed a nicer way of doing it than just going slowly," he said, which was at odds with Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn's statement of "we tried to do it in such a way that the other teams would not understand our intentions".

Michael Schumacher faked a spin, so he claimed, but other drivers didn't bother trying to disguise what they were up to, simply slowing at the end of thier laps.

Pre-qualifying was deemed 'a farce' by some but McLaren boss Ron Dennis thinks there was only one major piece of ham acting going on. "If you want to use the word farce, you should use it on one team who spun their cars and expected the others to believe it was an accident," he said.

Both Toyota drivers went for a flying lap in the first session and technical director Mike Gascoyne was not impressed by those that didn't. "I hope the crowd was entertained by the second qualifying session because the first one was a disgrace in front the huge numbers of people who have turned up at Silverstone," he remarked.

For Bernie Ecclestone, who has been relentlessly campaigning for a new qualifying format, it's more fuel to his fire. "It was all very stupid," he said. "But it's nothing to do with those involved, it's the system. The system needs changing and we will try and change it."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , Kimi Raikkonen , Ross Brawn , Mike Gascoyne , Bernie Ecclestone
Teams Ferrari , McLaren