F1 to radically change qualifying session in 2016

The F1 commission met today and voted on a few initiatives for the Formula 1 of the future but perhaps one of the first big changes to hit the press was a drastic change to the qualifying session. It’s a bit odd as most fans feel this is one of the elements of F1 that is working well and a tad surprising that they’ve chosen to focus on it rather than the other major issues that seem to challenge the fans’s attention span.

According to AUTOSPORT, the changes to qualifying will be:

Q1 will now last 16 minutes and after seven minutes the slowest driver will take no further part in the session.

Every 90 seconds thereafter, the slowest will be knocked out until there are only 15 drivers remaining.

After a short break, Q2 will commence and last 15 minutes with the slowest driver eliminated after six minutes.

As was the case in Q1, the slowest driver at the time will be knocked out at 90-second intervals until eight remain.

Q3 will last 14 minutes and see the process repeated again with the slowest taking no further part after five minutes.

The next five drivers will drop out at 90-second intervals leaving the final two drivers to fight it out for pole in the final 90 seconds.

Now that’s a big change! How do you feel about changing qualifying and are we now making the session even more complicated than it needs to be? The article says this was to “spice up the show” and I loathe that terminology. No one is asking for spice these days, we’re asking for more meat!  Where’s the beef?

F1’s ability to change regulations to more complex systems and rules is one thing but then offering no on-screen graphics or systems in which to help fans and viewers to understand the changes is a bit of an issue. At first blush, it will require some kind of graphic to show real-time tactical information second by second of who is where on track and what time they are running.

Perhaps they’ve thought through this and have a much simpler idea on how we, the fans at home, can track this without having to be watching the event live and using a $40 app in order to do so.


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Richard Bunce

90 seconds feels pretty arbitrary… Austria versus Singapore lap time ~40 second difference for instance. The first part of getting rid of slowest after a portion of the total period passes to get people out and running might work… unless the weather is an issue.

Jack Flash (Australia)

I don’t even begin to know how I feel about this Quali Format Change (seems like a recipe to change a well working thing… into utter Chaos and potentially some strategic shenannigans, more blocking bleating, and unfair victims of circumstances. So Yeah. Assuming this is to be Introduced… The drop-out times every arbitrary 90 seconds is stupid. Each track has a different lap duration. The figure should be stated as a “dropout ever 100% of Virtual Safety Car laptime”. FFS. How hard is it to think in Rules Terms that are consistent. *** Errrr. FIA involved… so yeah… I take… Read more »

Tom Firth

It seems another ridiculous over-complication of something which should be simple, in order to attract a demographic, which is either already interested in motorsport and wondering, why on earth are you doing this, or has absolutely zero interest and this or anything else F1 proposes, isn’t going to attract them into a fundamentally exclusive environment. As for the actual format, it baffles me why because we are still only going to focus on the same cars and drivers anyway at the same time in the broadcast, reducing the number on track isn’t really going to alter that. I suspect F1… Read more »

jiji the cat

Oh brother. Will the cars stay out longer now?


Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.


I need a hug.


Do you think the F1 commission thinks that KISS stands for Keep it Stupid, Stupid?


Stuck On Stupid is the first thing that came to mind. OTOH, compared to the tire regs it is clean, clear, and simple, so maybe this could be seen as an improvement in mindset. Rant aside, it should have the effect of getting all of the cars out on the track sooner, and thus eliminating that agonizing period where the clock has started but every car is sitting in the garage for what feels like an eternity. But even if you wanted to do this, how can 90 seconds be applied across-the-board when the lap times vary so drastically from… Read more »


Spa will be interesting. In reality, they should just do a timed session until the first out and then take the slowest car off each lap thereafter. If you’re not on the track when the first time hits, you’re considered DNS for that “relegation” session regardless of previous time set before the time limit goes in to effect.

Bacon Wrapped Sushi

I’m OK with seeing this play out actually. Was I asking for changes on Saturday? No, but I’m interested in the idea. It will make Q1 and Q2 more interesting and it may make teams that fight a little harder just to inch up a row on the grid. It adds new pressure. You telling me Haas won’t be fighting hard to get a row up on Manor?

What will be interesting to see is if what happens when it rains.


New Quali Strategy for Ferrari: Go out first, put in a lap, then come back to the pits and block both Mercs.

Seriously, wouldn’t you take a 5 place grid spot penalty for blocking to put Merc on the back row?

I foresee shenanigans.


It will help get rid of the one and done garage queens. It forces cars to be on the track for the entire session in fear of being in the garage when the time limits start to expire. They’re forcing every driver/team to stay on track for most of the session to increase track time for fans.

I’m all for it, but it is a bit confusing for the average fan. TV should be awesome though!


My first thought is how many sets of tyres will they use if the drivers have to keep circulating for the hour of qualifying? Don’t forget that this year Pirelli have introduced the one lap special qualifying tyre (ultra soft) so how will that help drivers stay out for longer. Also, the practice of saving new tyres for use in the race will be eliminated for all except those that can turn their power unit up for qualifying. This would appear to be handing Mercedes an early advantage.


I have no words.


So the plan for each session will be to bolt on the softest rubber and fill with enough fuel for 1 fast lap (or 2 to be safe) + 15 minutes of minimum revs. Go out, smash out the fastest lap you can with fresh rubber and spend the rest of the session pootling around trying to not get penalised for baulking another driver. Jerk spice, anyone?


Ok so, 5 minutes to set a fast time. All the cars trundle out at once, creating a crowded track, then after an out-lap everyone goes for the hot lap together. Lets imagine what can go wrong in this scenario… 1. You make a mistake on your hot lap, but your tires are going off & you have no time to pit. This is the driver’s fault so they just have to suck it up – no problem. 2. A Merc is stuck behind a backmarker going for their hot lap and can’t get past for the majority of the… Read more »


On thinking about it, this explains Bernie’s “reverse grid” idea from yesterday, which was obviously never going to be accepted. He wanted a change that’d artificially shake up the grid and make races a bit more unpredictable, so he proposed a radical solution in order to get teams to agree to the smaller change of elimination-style qualifying.

Paul KieferJr

This is really pointless. What happens if no cars go out for seven minutes? Are they all DQ’d? :-/

charlie white

Why change it? What’s wrong with the present qualifying method? I’m surprised the teams agreed on anything race-related.

Negative Camber

I would imagine the amount of driver finger-pointing over being held up with grow substantially.

John The Race Fan

Unless they explode a car every 90 seconds in Q3 to thrill and delight the fans, this is ridiculously stupid.

Gimmicks like this work in video games, maybe. Not in World’s premier motorsport.

Junipero Mariano

I don’t think it needed fixing but I’d still like to see how it turns out. But if if it took Lewis 1:47 to get around Spa last year, how will the eliminations work? Can you imagine the shenanigans that will be Monaco qualifying? I liked the idea of reserve drivers having more participation during the race weekend. My funky idea would be to have the main drivers have a qualifying session as before. Those grid spots would then be assigned to the RESERVE drivers who would run a short sprint race. The results for that race would determine the… Read more »


This is getting complicated, I’m still trying to understand the new tire regulation and now this!!


I don’t agree with idea. Don’t understand the logic of this. Come on F1 you guys aren’t nascar.

Paul KieferJr

>ahem< NASCAR here. Even we don't do this. :P

the Late Idi Armin

sounds like this is being changed because a lot of the other more pressing issues can’t be.


I am of the mindset that we, FBC fans , are to blame. We all collectively droned on and on about NBC F1 broadcast teams ‘gateway’ ad nauseam knock-out qualifying rules for newer F1 fans, and i think the F1 commission said, ‘fine…then here, dammit’! Pastor’s driving and subsequent contract release falls neatly into this theory as well.
So we are being heard!
Let’s double-down this year with DRS complaints, or V10’s returning…or better yet, complaining that Paul Charsely has not been given the opportunity to interview Carmen and compare on-track tips.

Andreas Möller

Now I almost agree with Bernie – if this becomes reality, F1 could actually be called “the worst it’s ever been”… So, basically, Q1, Q2 and Q3 will have 7, 6 and 5 minutes of actual running, respectively. The rest of the time will be a minefield of knocked out cars slowly pootering around on their way to the pits, ready to be in anyone’s way. Oh dear… I see what they’re trying to do – creating suspense by continuously eliminating drivers until there are only two left to duke it out. The problem is that the suspense is once… Read more »


Yeah lets eff up one of the few parts of recent F1 `that is great as it was…. We are all going to need a slide-rule to figure out who is running :-/ The teams & especially drivers will need to employee more marketing people to make up excuses :-)


What would happen if the slowest driver was on a fast lap when the time runs out, crosses the line with the fastest time a couple of seconds later? Everyone will be trying to cross the line just as each time period runs out. They cannot all do this, so it is going to be a farce.

The Captain

Yep! Apparently though even if they’re about to cross the line on a hot lap it doesn’t matter if the 90 sec runs out, they are out.

This is the stupidest thing the sport has done in a while. Rather than having the exciting last few minutes where all the Q3 drivers take their last hot lap and we await to see who will win, there will now be just two drivers circulating the track. Ughhhh!

Richard Bunce

OK in salute to Mercedes for the praise they have rightfully been getting for this test session as to number of laps completed… the new qualifying format is the more laps completed in the session gets the higher/front grid position. The consistently fastest car will be able to do the most laps. Make it three fifteen minute sessions.


Sounds like qualifying will be more fun than race itself. Total chaos.
Add rain and it’s going to be hilarious.


Where’s that Lauda “Total bullshit” button on the soundboard?

George Fulgham


Pulkit Matta

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Devil Advocate Here.

I Love It.

In Most Qualifying Sessions, LEWIS Takes Too Long To Leave The Garage And I Cringe The Day He Will Be Caught With His Pants Down.

This Way, Rain Or Shine, Everybody Will Rush To Make A Banker As Soon As Possible.

No More Sleeping In Qualifying, Period.

Did I Say I Love It ?

GO, 44 !


This won’t be introduced until Spain at the earliest. Still Bernie has once again got everyone talking about F1 before the season starts, so mission accomplished.