Drivers Divided on Qualifying Proposals

Although it is widely expected that the much criticised one-lap qualifying system will be dropped for next year, some drivers would actually like to retain the one car at a time format in order to avoid being caught in traffic

Drivers Divided on Qualifying Proposals

Fans have been asked to vote on two new suggestions as well as for the current system, and although both of the proposals include qualifying on low fuel, something that is supported by most of the drivers, neither of them specifies a pre-determined running order for the cars.

When asked during the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend about which of the two proposals he would like to see in use next season, 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve answered: "Neither actually. I like the one lap qualifying, I don't like it with fuel, and I think we should have two goes at it so then you can really push hard. But one lap means you don't have traffic.

"Everybody thinks qualifying used to be fantastic but how many times did you come back to the pits saying 'ah, there was a yellow flag' or 'there was traffic' and it just created... and then for half an hour there were no cars on the track. It wasn't that good."

Until 2002 drivers could do as many as 12 laps during a one-hour qualifying, with no restrictions on when to go out on the track. Although this usually provided little action at the first half of the session, it was still considerably more popular amongst the fans than the different variations of the one-lap format.

However the key point in changing qualifying seems not to be the number of laps or the running order, but the fuel load. Under current regulations that don't permit refuelling between qualifying and the race, the relative performances of the cars is masked by the different fuel loads.

"Now what is confusing is you qualify with fuel so you ask 'is it a good lap?', 'is it the strategy?', and you can't really push to the limit because a mistake means you'll start last," Villeneuve pointed out. "So if you just had two goes at one lap without fuel it would be perfect."

Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella agreed. "It is good to have the one lap qualifying but it would be nice to drive without fuel," he said.

"The old format was nice because of the fuel load, it was nice for some reasons but obviously sometimes there were red or yellow flags, a lot of traffic, but there were a few chances to do a good lap. Now it is just one chance, and it is not easy."

Championship contender Kimi Raikkonen also made it clear he preferred the one-lap format but with low fuel load, while Briton Jenson Button added that however popular the old system was amongst the fans, from the driver's point of view it could be a struggle.

"I prefer one lap, for me it is a lot more exciting, and I think only getting one chance is good," Button said. "For the viewers, when we had four qualifying runs or twelve laps, maybe it is a bit more exciting to watch, but it was so frustrating for the drivers to get a good lap in.

"One lap qualifying is good and you also get to see everyone's laps which is quite interesting."

No Return to Old System

Toyota's Jarno Trulli, widely regarded as one of the best qualifiers on the grid, would be happy to go back to the old multi-lap qualifying, but it seems that it's not really amongst the options for 2006.

One of the proposals listed on Formula One's official website is a 60-minute session split into two halves with a 10-minute break between them. Drivers could do as many laps as they wish, but should set a time in each half, and their best laptimes from the two would be added together to determine the grid for the race.

The other suggestion is more controversial. This would also see a one-hour session, but with drivers being allowed to do as many laps as they want in the first 15 minutes, after which the five slowest cars would be restricted from further running (these would start from the 16th to 20th places on the grid).

In the next 15 minutes another five cars would drop out in the same way, while the last half-hour would see the drivers competing for the first ten places on the grid without any restrictions on the number of laps or the amount of fuel.

Although it's not clear if the voting will have a direct effect on the system to be used next season, David Coulthard, a veteran of 186 Grands Prix, made it clear he didn't like the second proposal.

"I don't like the idea of the five cars dropping out. Therefore I prefer the half-hour qualifying added together, but I prefer not to have the aggregate times," he said.

However Coulthard admitted that just like Trulli, he would be happy to return to the old multi-lap format, even if traffic might make it hard to set a competitive laptime.

"I would, because I think that part of the skill is to avoid the traffic," he noted. "The team and you have to work together to help with that, and I think it adds to the excitement as well."

McLaren driver Juan-Pablo Montoya stated he "would rather have four laps" during qualifying, but seven-times World Champion Michael Schumacher said that the worst way is to keep changing the format all the time.

"The main thing I keep saying is that there will not be any fix which will satisfy everyone," he pointed out.

"Unfortunately we all have different opinions and one likes one way, and the other one likes another way, spectators, drivers, team owners, whoever. The worst thing we can do is keep on changing. That's the only thing I can say about that."

shares
comments
Alonso Stays Calm after Hungary Setback
Previous article

Alonso Stays Calm after Hungary Setback

Next article

Haug Calls for High Capacity Engines

Haug Calls for High Capacity Engines
Why few could blame Leclerc for following the example of Hamilton’s exit bombshell Plus

Why few could blame Leclerc for following the example of Hamilton’s exit bombshell

OPINION: Ferrari's numerous strategy blunders, as well as some of his own mistakes, have cost Charles Leclerc dearly in the 2022 Formula 1 title battle in the first half of the season. Though he is locked into a deal with Ferrari, few could blame Leclerc if he ultimately wanted to look elsewhere - just as Lewis Hamilton did with McLaren 10 years prior

The other McLaren exile hoping to follow Perez's path to a top F1 seat Plus

The other McLaren exile hoping to follow Perez's path to a top F1 seat

After being ditched by McLaren earlier in his F1 career Sergio Perez fought his way back into a seat with a leading team. BEN EDWARDS thinks the same could be happening to another member of the current grid

Formula 1
Aug 8, 2022
How studying Schumacher helped make Coulthard a McLaren F1 mainstay Plus

How studying Schumacher helped make Coulthard a McLaren F1 mainstay

Winner of 13 grands prix including Monaco and survivor of a life-changing plane crash, David Coulthard could be forgiven for having eased into a quiet retirement – but, as MARK GALLAGHER explains, in fact he’s busier than ever, running an award-winning media company and championing diversity in motor racing. Not bad for someone who, by his own admission, wasn’t quite the fastest driver of his generation…

Formula 1
Aug 7, 2022
Could F1 move to a future beyond carbonfibre? Plus

Could F1 move to a future beyond carbonfibre?

Formula 1 has ambitious goals for improving its carbon footprint, but could this include banishing its favoured composite material? PAT SYMONDS considers the alternatives to carbonfibre and what use, if any, those materials have in a Formula 1 setting

Formula 1
Aug 6, 2022
How Russell has proven he deserves to be Hamilton's Mercedes heir Plus

How Russell has proven he deserves to be Hamilton's Mercedes heir

He’s fast, he’s smart, and he’s already shown he’s not going to let Max Verstappen intimidate him. George Russell won’t say it, but LUKE SMITH says he’s ready to take the lead at Mercedes when Lewis Hamilton moves on to a quieter life. And – whisper it – Mercedes and Lewis are starting to think so too

Formula 1
Aug 5, 2022
The traits that fuelled Alonso's unexpected Aston Martin move Plus

The traits that fuelled Alonso's unexpected Aston Martin move

Fernando Alonso’s bombshell switch to Aston Martin sent shockwaves through Formula 1, not least at Alpine that finds itself tangled in a contract standoff with Oscar Piastri. Not shy of a bold career move and with a CV punctuated by them, there were numerous hints that trouble was brewing

Formula 1
Aug 4, 2022
The elements Ferrari must resolve to first save face, then win championships Plus

The elements Ferrari must resolve to first save face, then win championships

OPINION: Ferrari's Formula 1 title hopes look all but over after another strategic blunder in last week's Hungarian Grand Prix denied Charles Leclerc the chance to fight for victory, while handing it to chief rival Max Verstappen. The Scuderia now faces intense scrutiny over what it must now do to finally become a genuine factor in championship battles

Formula 1
Aug 3, 2022
The clues about Hamilton’s F1 retirement plans revealed after Vettel’s decision Plus

The clues about Hamilton’s F1 retirement plans revealed after Vettel’s decision

OPINION: Sebastian Vettel is set to leave Formula 1 at the end of 2022 and will, rather shockingly, be replaced by Fernando Alonso at Aston Martin. But what about the final chapter of the other driver that defined the post-Michael Schumacher era? In Hungary, Lewis Hamilton spoke about his future in the context of Vettel’s upcoming departure, which offered clues on how long it will last

Formula 1
Aug 2, 2022