New ‘pretty crap’ quali prompts emergency meeting

As the dust settled, the new qualifying format is being met with serious criticism…even from the sport’s commercial rights boss Bernie Ecclestone who said:

“I watched it, but I have to say I wasn’t enthusiastic about it from day one,” said Ecclestone.

“It was pretty crap. But this is what we’ve got, until we can change it.

“The only thing about this [format] is that the quick guys could have run off the road, or done anything a little bit silly, and then you would get a mixed-up grid, which is what we wanted.

“It just happens that Mercedes are still very, very good.”

Very good indeed. A gap of over 8 tenths between Mercedes and Ferrari existed at the end of qualifying but the two Ferrari’s parked their cars with five minutes still left in Q3. Typically the Q3 session has cars running down the very last second but not in Australia as teams struggled to come to grips with the strategy needed for teh new qualification format.

Regardless of the pole position for his team, Toto Wolff says that the teams bosses are set to have an emergency meeting on Sunday morning to discuss whether the series should change the qualification format for the next grand prix. Wolff was no fan of the new system and says that a change is possible:

“If all the teams were to come together and say this is a unanimous opinion then we have a pretty good chance of getting it through,” he said.

“I doubt anybody would lift his hand in favour of the new qualifying format.”

Fan reaction hasn’t been positive and while some fans are trying to give teams the benefit of the doubt and allowing for a few more tries to get the strategy down in order to make teh new system work, most fans are calling for an immediate change back to the previous format…a format they felt never needed changing to begin with.



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They have good intentions with these artificial “excitement enhancers” but so far they all have fallen flat. Time to really focus on actual problems rather than these red herrings.


They don’t have good intentions. Their intentions are to improve ratings and hence increase profits.

A desire to perpetuate a great racing series would be good intentions.


If they had good intentions they’d stop circling around the several actual core problems: manufacturer control for marketing purposes; Formula H(ybrid); FIA fecklessness; the mythical “road relevance”; country-based broadcast contracts; and data-driven racing.

If the intention was instead to roll back to raw, high-performance, and competitive motorsport (which is the objective of all other series that I can think of), they’d have to completely dismantle all of the foregoing core problems.


I think it worked fine for Q1 & Q2 (not super keen, but it wasn’t a total disaster), but Q3 should stay as it was. We want cars out until the last minute, fighting for every tenth of a second. Not sitting in the garage because it’s not worth wasting their time.

Peter Riva

Wait! There was one fan! Will Buxton called it marvelous and exciting.

Tom Firth

I don’t know who it was, it was early this morning and my brain wasn’t quite functioning but someone on Twitter described Q1 as like downing a can of Red Bull, and Q2 as the sugar crash, which summed it up pretty well I thought.


I have two words to explain that bizarre anomaly… Will Buxton.

Peter Riva

The issue is all about reducing the driver control and making it a team sport.

The Captain

Bernie lays out the real crappy reasons for this change when he said, “and then you would get a mixed-up grid, which is what we wanted.” Who want’s this!? This debacle is just another unnatural ’spice up the show’ idea akin to sprinklers and medals. Wolf said last night that it was the ‘promoters’ that pushed for this. And Bernie said himself in that same interview he pushed for reverse grids. So what we got last night was the compromise with what Bernie really wanted, which is somehow even worse. This is just another terrible gimmick made to gloss over… Read more »


It was painful to watch Haas get so screwed on their first ever event.

Welcome to F1 Gene!


Actually that was probably the one part the Bernie enjoyed…

Paul KieferJr

This thing was a clusterflop right from the beginning. At least the teams’ principals have enough horse sense to realize that it wasn’t working. Right now, I see only two choices available to them:

1. Let the drivers finish their laps when their time runs out; or
2. Just go back to what it was.

I’m in favor of option 2, but I can settle for option 1.


StephenB comments above that option 1 will not work. His argument makes sense.


Shockingly ideas thought up after a night down the local boozer with mates don’t actually work in the cold light of day.

This is typical of Formula 1, trying to fix what isn’t broken while ignoring the sports real problems. Or as its otherwise known, Tuesday.

Michael in Seattle

During his MotorSport Magazine interview last week, Pat Symonds proffered his rational for regular qualifying but w/ a reverse grid lineup for races. He believes that if rev grid lineup was installed, teams would be forced to design their cars for close-quarter racing as opposed to clear-air racing, as they are now. He thinks that would vastly improve the actual racing. My question: how to keep fastest cars from sand-bagging during qualifying. One idea, FIA could always use bracket times as are used in drag racing. Teams assign a bracket (time window) they believe they can/will race too. If they… Read more »


Reverse grids won’t really help any more than this. Reverse grids works great for series like the BTCC where the parity between cars is much closer, and actually gives skilled drivers in lesser machines a chance at a result.

That will never work in F1. Parity has to be achieved by the teams themselves. Honestly it’s a long term investment, I think, and no one in F1 can see past the next fiscal quarter, so forget it.


With all due respect, all of these alleged fixes are lipstick on a pig.

Roll back on FIA rulemaking and mandatory hybrid. Stick with traditional circuits. Transition to livestreams. And a couple more things. Rejiggering the rules is not a fix. In fact it says of F1 stakeholder management that “I can’t/won’t/don’t understand the problem.”

Britt from Austin

Points of Concern: Q2 With 3:40 minutes left of this session *Of 11 Cars left only four were on track trying With 2:00 minutes left of this session *ALL CARS were in the Paddock in their Pit Stalls Q3: With 6:00 minutes left in Qualifying *Cars in positions 3 through 5 just gave up trying to improve their time With 2:00 Minutes left and the supposed showdown by the remaining cars *Both Mercedes’s Cars were in the Paddock & NO Cars were Racing. Please explain to us your Loyal Fan Base how is the GOOD for the Fan and Sport.… Read more »

Ian Erasmus

Once they change the qualifying back, it’ll mean that big team meeting where they cooked up this idea originally will have actually achieved absolutely nothing.

Michael in Seattle

By the by;
Here is the YouTube link for the video/podcast of the Pat Symonds interview with MotorSport Magazine, and some time marks for content:
15:06 Mark Hughes begins discussion of new qualifying format
18:27 Pat Symonds explains issue
19:35 Round table discussion of ideas
20:25 Mark Hughes discusses his idea
20:55 Pat follow up with his explanation of his reverse grid idea
23:00 End


One of the most interesting parts is Pat talking about how the FIA spent real money on research for the safety stuff, but the overtaking working group did the equivalent of 2 days in the wind tunnel to make it’s recommendations.

Where is Delta Topco (i.e. CVC)? Why the hell don’t they invest in their own damned product and do something based on actual evidence and research rather than shooting from the hip, wasting everyone’s time and diluting the value of their own product. What a way to run a business.


Because Formula H(ybrid) is a cash cow and IMO nearly unsaleable to any other investor in its present state. TD/CVC doesn’t really care except that quarterly profits are keep rolling in (but surely they must realize the fix they’re now in?). F1 financials (e.g., to CVC and Delta Topco) are inextricably dependent on the longstanding race cred of Bernie, who (rightly, during his time) erected a massive and complex structure of country-based TV/cable & circuit contracts which to this day rest on his ability to negotiate terms and to extract profits for FOM>Delta Topco>CVC (and of course for himself and… Read more »


Agree 100%, mate.

Michael in Seattle

As Pat states, there actually was a logic (tortured, maybe) to the new qualifying format as it pertains to improving the actual races. They just got this one wrong. Fess up, change back.


What was so interesting about this entire fiasco is that, well, it seems to me anyway, banking a fast lap and then sitting on it would clearly be the tactic of choice. The last three minutes of Q3 were surreal to watch. I am sure we will never know, but exactly who championed this idea? (And exactly how inebriated were the people who voted this in ?)

Junipero Mariano

My pet theory is that people who may only have a passing interest in racing but have access to the paddock club and the glass rooms have the ear of higher ups in F1. They express their boredom watching and ask for “spicing up the show.” Then the Strategy Group puts in their contribution to game the system in their favor. If you do want to add value to the qualifying weekend and mix up the grid a bit, I thought a good idea was to have third/reserve drivers get involved. Example: Lewis does a traditional qualifying session. His time… Read more »


Letting the driver finish a current lap will never work. The times are dictated to end at 0:00. If you let someone finish a lap AND they bump themselves up the next car in line could have, say, 20 seconds to do the same. No team would go for that and if you don’t follow the 90 second rule you don’t end up with the right amount of cars left at the end of the session. Unless, you take the end time out of the equation and just end it once the duck, duck, goose scenario narrows it down to… Read more »

Doc Downunder

That’s where I think it ‘could’ work. Not only does the last/bottom driver need to be watching the clock but the bottom 3,4 or 5 should be watching it just 8n case they get piped at the post. That way we as viewers and fans will he watching a few drivers on the limit every 2 mins. I can see it adding to the excitement if the ‘shot clock’ is actually the cut off to get ur flying lap in. If you’re 2nd or 3rd from the bottom and bother and get knocked out, too bad too sad. There will… Read more »


So basically there’s no way to make this work. That’s what I thought. ;-)


I was like watching a game of musical chairs. Not racing.

Doc Downunder

WOW!!! What an absolute farce!!! Look, I can see ‘some’ potential there but you really have to scrape the bottom of the barrel to start getting a glimpse. IF they want to stick with this crappy ‘not qualifying’. I think a good compromise would be : Q1 & Q2. -The 90sec countdown is actually a countdown to have started your flying lap. Ie, any driver already on their lap gets to FINISH the lap! – Only the HARDER tyer MUST be used! That way drivers can actually stay out on track and string laps together and try and time there… Read more »

Andreas Möller

Finally got around to watching the qualifying session, and my first impressions are that it was a complete shambles. Martin Brundle said “We’re watching the stopwatch, not the cars”, and that’s what it was. Lots of premature eliminations due to people not being able to get out and around in time. 2 minutes at the end of Q2 with no running, and a Q3 that stalled completely around the 6 minute mark, while we waited for the clock to run out. Instead of watching cars race to the flag, we got to watch drivers walk up the pit lane, helmet… Read more »


I really hope the “emergency group” listens to Martin Brundle’s comments during quali. The bit about watching the stopwatch is spot on. On top of that, you’d be watching the countdown next to a name that was already mathematically out and wondering if the next guy in the queue was on a hot lap and had any chance of making it himself. There’s just to much realtime information needed to make sense of this format, and it absolutely fails at it’s primary objective. Go back to the original, get DeltaTopco to actually fund some research (What? The owner of F1… Read more »

Andreas Möller

Just to add – I can only hope the emergency meeting doesn’t come up with more band-aids. It could work if they force the drivers to run on the hardest tyre compound and stay out for the whole session, but then what would be the excitement? The best thing they can do here is to simply revert back to last year’s format, and move on. Yes, it will be embarrassing to have to do that, but nowhere near as embarrassing as keeping it would be… Here’s an idea for the Strategy Group, WMC and FIA/FOM – how about actually testing… Read more »


Obviously Tony George has moved to Europe in an attempt to ruin another racing series.

Tickled Pink

This silly format could only have been dreamed up by a senile old dwarf. Wait .. what?

Jason Smith

Given that the Strategy Group and the FIA considered this was an improvenent to the old quali format, I’m genuinely fearful of what they come-up with to “fix” the current format…

Doc Downunder

Haha hahaha! Bloody Indian givers!!!! They took it back!!!!
Its official! We’re back to the old qually from Bahrain onwards!!

jiji the cat

BERNIE says…..
“Think before changing qualifying!”


Gone, done, good riddance:

F1’s elimination-style qualifying dropped with immediate effect

Qualifying set to revert to 2015’s rules from Bahrain GP after team bosses agree immediate U-turn after farcical Melbourne qualy
By James Galloway in Melbourne
Last Updated: 20/03/16 8:41am (Sunday, March 20, 2016 at 4:40:00 AM EDT)


I don’t know. Qualifying sucked, cars all in the wrong places, race was fun and interesting. Are we sure this didn’t work?