Qualifying leaves confused fans furious

Formula 1 got it’s first qualifying session of 2016 and with it, a new qualifying format. The issue at hand is whether the teams just experienced a steep learning curve and missed out on the 90-second immediate elimination process (with a lap of the Albert Park circuit at 1:25+) or if the new format is a damp squib.

Lewis Hamilton secured his 50th pole position but there was over 2 minutes left in Q3 and not a car was running. In fact, both Ferrari’s had parked their cars with 5 minutes left in the final session.

There are a lot of befuddled looks on many team bosses faces. In short, the final qualifying grid is really not much different than what many folks would have expected or what we saw last year but in getting to this result, we had much less actual running and much less action on track.

Teams may come to grips with the new format very quickly and while Q1 was interesting, it seemed to have neutered Q3 and that’s not the best option for fans at home. The building anticipation of Q3 was one of the best features of F1.

The social media response has been scathing regarding the new format and even drivers were critical when interviewed after being eliminated in Q1.

If you’re keeping score at home, Mercedes looked comprehensively dominant and the margin between Mercedes to Ferrari is still big. Let’s see how race pace pans out.

5VerstappenToro Rosso1’25.434
7SainzToro Rosso1’25.582
8RicciardoRed Bull1’25.589
9PerezForce India1’25.753
10HülkenbergForce India1’25.865
18KvyatRed Bull1’28.006
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Paul KieferJr

The real idiocy is that they didn’t let the drivers finish a lap when they got eliminated. Really screwed up the process. The FIA has outlived its usefulness.

Tom Firth

The FIA was not alone in being the instigator of this, it was the strategy group, lets not forget that, as much as are throwing it under the bus (rightly) now.

Paul KieferJr

That’s another mistake that was made: Letting the inmates run the asylum. :P

Jason Smith

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; go home FIA, you’re drunk!

Alexandros Tzortzopoulos

As a long-time Ferrari and F1 fan, the nearly 0.8s gap to the top Merc left me devastated. Are we in for yet another boring season?

Gorm Andizer

I think so however Merc threw Sepang last year so maybe something interesting will happen tomorrow .
That qualifying was terrible. I have friends in the stands and I really hope the race makes travelling from New Zealand worth all my envy. (hi Andy)


It too came as a shock to me. Though I’m a Mclaren fan, I just hoped Ferrari was(or still is) able to seriously make it difficult for MB.


Well, I think that time is a little misleading as Ferrari opted to “save a set” of tyres instead of run again – if you knew you were just 1 or 2 10ths slower – you wouldn’t bother running again with this format, so, don’t lose heart…

Daniel Sebergsen

I think they just didn’t bothered to stress their cars unnecessarily, knowing that the two mercs would be battling it out for the pole. At least that’s what I’m hoping for.

The Captain


Cars on track or not, the whole point of quali is changed for the worse. The focus is no longer on who’s gonna make it in, it’s now on who’s gonna get caught out. It focuses viewers attention on the negative not the positive.

Alexandros Tzortzopoulos

The focus of Q1 and Q2 was always on who gets caught out and I think that this format actually worked well for these two. Q3 on the other hand was a complete disaster. If I remember correctly, at one point Q3 was meant to stay in the previous format while Q1 and Q2 would work with the elimination style format.

I think that such a set up might be an improvement over the old format and keep the excitement of who gets pole in Q3.

Tom Firth

My thoughts are, I was optimistic about this, if I didn’t really ever see the point, and gave it a chance through Q1 and Q2 thinking logically… ok if we get teams to time the strategy more, which will happen in time and if perhaps some leeway was given to finishing the lap when the clock was running down, it would be potentially ok. Not amazing but manageable in time. Then Q3 happened and we finished the session with 4 minutes to go, and my optimistic logical attitude of how it could work if the format had time, is gone… Read more »


I was less optimistic, and the FOM didn’t let me down. The previous quali format was genuinely exciting (well mostly), this version was rubbish, its basically turned each session into a one lap qualifier. If you don’t nail your first run, and are in the drop zone, there is no time to service the car and get out for another run. So there is no drama in the countdown, its just a dispairing wait for the blade to drop. Really b*llocks, and it didn’t even result in any significant stirring up of the grid, its still basically lining the cars… Read more »

Tom Firth

I like being optimistic, I wish I wasn’t sometimes :-)

I agree with the comments at the end too, no one is really going to challenge Mercedes in the race.


It’s good to be optimistic Tom, and in most things an appropriate outlook, but experience has taught me when it comes to ‘improving the show’ a sense of impending disappointment is the right place to start from (that way once in a lifetime, I might get a pleasant surpise)


Well Tom, we got that call wrong. It still wound up a Mercedes 1-2, but they were challenged. :-)
At least they’ve binned the new format qualifying, I’m optimistic that will lead to better qualifying new round ;-)


I also was prepared to give it a go and see how it panned out. Being actually at the track meant it was quite difficult to follow, knockout timers could not be seen on screen (can be fixed) and trackside commentators did admirable job of keeping us up to date…. But it was tricky to follow. Q3 was obviously a joke, but let’s be honest, we’ve seen Q3’s a little like that before – to save tyres! Give ’em more tyres and they’ll go out more! Not sure who’s idea it was, but I know Pat Symonds said it was… Read more »


Maybe they should ban overtaking, on safety grounds. Risky business at those speeds, LOL.


Hi, I was there – found that there was not enough information to follow what was happening, Q1 and Q2 were frantic, fantastic too much going on to get your head round suggest the big screen (and TV) should have the traditional fastest to slowest down the left hand-side and the right hand side the reverse order with the at drivers high lighted so we can instantly follow the current action. The commentary was telling us who was gray and when they dropped out but we could not see who was under threat and if they were trying to do… Read more »

Juho Kallio

If Seb has time to change into jeans before the press conference there’s something wrong with your qualifying.

After two years of listening to the podcast I finally had to make my first post because the quali irked me so much. Please change it back before Bahrain.


Not only Seb changing into jeans – Ham would have had time to get out of his car, grab a cup of tea, stroll down the pitlane and wave his own chequered flag.

Richard Piers

You’re much too polite. Entirely predictable, entirely stupid. As we’ve known for a while the loonies really are running the asylum. We should hope for an apology from the old goats, of course, but none will be forthcoming. KISS !



Tom Firth

It has


The format has to go back to the old format sooner rather than later.


It takes a special kind of moron to fix something that isn’t broken.

Johnpierre Rivera

well i cant say that i am that encouraged by the result today… i would normally say lets give it a chance but in this case i think this new format should be scrapped completely until it can be sorted out. i think i know what the organizers where trying to accomplish but it just did not hit the mark.


Maybe if they keep the format around it’ll result in an interesting session at some point, but I don’t have high hopes. Based on what I saw today, this new quali is double points stupid. I think I would’ve preferred sprinklers and twitter boosts.


Inequality is the best thing in this sport. If you race or qualify under the same condition and you beat the better car, then even you competitor fans respect you. F1 should stop making artifical “improvements” to this concept. The new format isn’t all bad for Q1 and 2, but needs tweaking in some parts and then at least Q3. But back to more important things now. Bring back the V10 engines please. hahaha


Congratulations to the teams and drivers for deliberately mocking the new qualifying format. It was obviously a kind of boycott. As many fans have said they should not have tried to fix what was not broken. Now they will have to fix what they broke and it serves them right.


I already found it very irritating when one of the Haas’s (Grosjean I thought) was on a quick 1st sector, but had no time to complete the lap, and thus eliminated at the end of Q1. It’s completely unfair. I wasn’t able to watch Q3, because I lost all interest anyway. But to see Vettel all dressed up at the end, tells you about the effects of this new system. Honestly, I can’t handle the crud much longer with all the rules that they put in place, after having watched F1 for 17 years. I already got WEC on my… Read more »

Jamie Huntoon


John The Race Fan

I just watched this shitshow.
The only saving grace is that everyone at the top realizes the extent of their screw up and are meeting before the race Sunday to discuss.

Let’s hope they are infected with some common sense. Hell, at this point, uncommon sense would be acceptable! Any sense at all!

Van Dieu

Maybe they should also introduce elimination format in the grand prix itself. Last man is eliminated every 2nd lap after half distance. I’m only half joking – the format works well in some sports.

Dr T

That had that format last year. Every race a driver was knocked out at random by Pastor Maldonado…. thrilling!

Dr T

Is the Australian GP corporation or the fans who bought tickets for today going to be offered some sort of compensation? That was an utter farce (as I had predicted it would be in a previous post). Can’t fuel cars up enough for them to circulate on track as then they are too slow anyway, tires with one or two laps worth of pace get chewed up. Teams like Ferrari make the sensible decision not to waste tires and risk the car to get from P3 to P2. Quali was not broken… Todd and Paul – you need to change… Read more »

Tim C.

Quali was one of the best parts of the weekend. It wasn’t broke . . . there was nothing to fix. Geez! Can someone in a position of power stop the madness!


To be fair, I think more time needs to be given before we throw it out. Let’s not forget in principle it makes sense, and the idea is that you just keep running and it keeps you on your toes. But cars are not bothering because without the tyre, you are not gonna improve anyway. The key issue is not the format, it’s the other rules supporting. Make everyone in quali use the hardest compound possible so that you can do multiple runs and have the potential of improving on times, then cars will keep going bar coming in for… Read more »


Sorry Todd but my decorum and civility might have to take a back seat on this topic.


Q1 and Q2 were good in my opinion, Q3 on the other hand…

Oh dear. Need to go back to the shootout for that one


Two cars will be eliminated in one lap at Singapore, Spa, COTA just to name a few. It was hard enough to follow on tv. I can’t imagine how hard it was to follow at the track. This just goes to show all they’re doing is trying to spice up the TV package and it was an epic fail. It took the best parts of qualifying, the last 5 minutes, and moved it to the beginning of the session. Then left us with nothing after. It doesn’t give time for anyone to come back in and change tires under a… Read more »

Peter Riva

I reiterate my comment when they announce the new qualifying procedure: Hahahahahaha
And someone has to take Lee back of the barn…


I feel like I am an intelligent person but that quali is so confusing. I really hope try revert back to the old system. Maybe there is a better quali out there but this is definitely not it.


Well another wasted season. All the other teams should just abandon the season cuz obviously Merc is winning again. That’s terrible from an entertainment standpoint.

Fred Betros

I was at the track for qualifying yesterday and was so angry and disappointed with the powers that be that have taken a sport I / we love down to the levels it is at the moment. In our grandstand alone, for the first time I’ve seen (I’ve been to the last 7 Aus GPs), people left the stands in disgust with 4 minutes left in Q3! There were boos and lots of “thumbs down”. It was really sad to see. As fans, we shouldn’t put up with this sort of rubbish any longer. We have to have a voice