New Indy 500 quali rules announced — should F1 copy?

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Leading up to next month’s Indianapolis 500, the heads of the race today announced a revamped format to qualification that includes a top 9 shootout for pole.

It doesn’t take much to see that they are trying to make “the show” as exciting as possible. Sound like a familiar goal?

Here are the details:

The top 24 spots in the 33-car field will be available through traditional four-lap attempts from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. (ET) [on May 22]. Each car will have up to three attempts during that time. The times of the top nine drivers from the first segment of qualifying will be erased at 4 p.m., with all of those competitors guaranteed to start no worse than ninth in the race May 30.

Those nine cars then will be required to make at least one four-lap qualifying attempt between 4:30-6 p.m., with one additional, optional attempt if time permits. Each driver’s best run during the 90-minute session will set their position on the starting grid. If inclement weather prevents the 90-minute shootout, their times from the opening session will determine starting positions.

And here — and this is probably the important part for F1 fans — is the rationale:

“This new format for Indianapolis 500 qualifying will deliver even more action and intensity for fans,” said Jeff Belskus, president and chief executive officer of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation. “Drivers will go all out during the first session on Pole Day to get a chance to make a run for the pole. Then they’ll need to dig even deeper to find the speed for the pole in the last 90 minutes.

“Plus there still will be plenty of spots up for grabs on Bump Day, with all of the dramatic, last-minute bumping that generations of fans have loved about Indy. This is going to be a fantastic weekend of qualifying. I can’t wait to see it unfold.”

As additional incentive, the pole sitter will earn $175,000, a bump of $75,000 from 2009. The second-fastest will pocket $75,000, with the third spot and last front-row position earning $50,000.

Points, too, will be on the line: “The pole winner will receive 15 points, with the other front-row starters earning 13 and 12 points, respectively. Drivers in Rows 2 and 3 will receive, in descending order, between 11 and six points. Positions 10-24 receive four bonus points, and 25-33 earn three points.”

That’s plenty of reason for the action during quali at Indy to be exciting. Some questions, I guess, are:

Is it too much? Too many artificial elements?

And then the big one: Is there anything here that F1 should adopt?

And, is IndyCar staking a claim as the race- and fan-friendly open-wheel series — to F1’s loss?


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