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Drivers debate new qualifying

Formula 1 drivers are in a spin about the new rules on qualifying, fearing the introduction of Sunday morning sessions could be a real turn off for fans.

Under the new rules, to be unveiled at this weekend's Australian Grand Prix, each of the cars will run a single qualifying lap on Saturday. They will return the following morning to run a second lap with the combined times from the two runs deciding the starting grid.

McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa said the format was too confusing for spectators. "We have got to go back to basics," he said. "They (spectators) need to know the guy that's quickest is on pole position...you don't want the guy sitting in front of the tv with a calculator."

The format has been introduced by the FIA following complaints that last year's single-lap qualifying session was boring.

Briton Jensen Button said the rules would present new challenges to the teams but he was unsure about the public's reaction.

"It's going to be quite interesting because on Saturday we'll be running with low fuel and new tyres and on Sunday morning we'll come straight from that to running fuelled and old tyres," he said. "From the fan's point of view we really don't know so it's going to be very interesting."

Williams driver Mark Webber said he was concerned the new rules would turn qualifying into a lottery.

"I'm not that worried about the one-lap qualifying but I think aggregating the times is a little bit of a shame," he said. "The weather can definitely play more of a role in the lottery so that could prove a little bit frustrating."

World champion Michael Schumacher had mixed emotions about the new regulations and said he would prefer to see how they worked before passing judgement.

"Qualifying is always important; whether it has the same importance, we shall find out. With the new rules the way we maybe approach the weekend and the race might be different," he said.

"But I think we should first experience it before we talk about it, we haven't even done it yet so we can't really question it."

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