F1’s latest qualifying idea

On 3rd April Jean Todt and Bernie Ecclestone met with the team bosses to discuss potential changes to the qualifying format. The meeting was already due to take place prior to qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix which took place the previous day.

After a reported ninety minutes of discussions, it was announced that there would be another meeting on Thursday 7th April 2016. This led to slight disbelief at first that a ninety minute meeting had apparently yielded nothing other than an agreement on when next to meet. But as the day went on more details about what was actually discussed have come to light.

Jean Todt
Symposium on The Future Networked Car” by ITU Pictures is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Progress had actually been made and the meeting on Thursday is for the teams to vote on the idea of reverting to the 2015 qualifying system with the adjustment of having two laps per session added together.

This aggregate idea is not new to Formula One which had such a system in 2005. It wasn’t popular as it was a single lap run on a Saturday followed by another on the Sunday. It didn’t generate a lot of excitement as each car would go one at a time, so as to avoid being slowed by traffic for example. This meant the format was replaced in favour of the format that was most recently used in 2015.

Daniil Kvyat
Daniil Kvyat – Red Bull Racing” by Michael Potts is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Some have looked at the irony of that aggregate system which was dropped during the season. But don’t think we would be moving from one doomed format to another as the sport would simply take the idea of an aggregate time and apply it to the 2015 qualifying format.

It may seem baffling to some why it will take until at least Thursday for a change to be implemented by it is important to see the standpoints of the teams’ compared to the FIA and Bernie.

Teams’ Standpoint

The issue is that teams are quite content with the 2015 system and have therefore made the standpoint of attempting to force the FIA to reintroduce the old qualifying format since it is proven, with little to no complaints from teams or fans, and since F1 has tried something new, which hasn’t worked, there is no point risking introducing another new format that could once again fail.

Jean Todt and Bernie Ecclestone’s Standpoint

Bernie Ecclestone
Bernie Ecclestone” by Ryan Bayona is licensed under CC BY 2.0

However FIA President Jean Todt, and Bernie Ecclestone, don’t want to revert directly back to the 2015 system as race organisers want a change to entice more fans to their venues on a Saturday with more track action from F1. This, to them, requires moving away from the 2015 qualifying format.


It is these two opposing viewpoints that are at the heart of the issue. The teams’ will now go away and have some time to decide whether to accept Todt and Ecclestone’s proposal.

One way or another, expect a different qualifying format for the Chinese Grand Prix on 16th April, the next round of the F1 season.

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