Fans Call for Qualifying Change

Formula One teams are set to come under increased pressure to ditch the sport's current single-lap qualifying format after a majority of fans expressed their disapproval of the system in an FIA survey

The teams have failed to settle on a satisfactory qualifying format ever since single-lap qualifying was introduced at the start of 2003. It has been revised three times since then, and still does not have universal support.

Discussions have continued this season about changing it again for next year, and a decision needs to be taken swiftly to allow teams enough time to accommodate any car design changes in their 2005 challengers if low-fuel qualifying is to return.

With 70 percent of the 93,000 fans who took part in the FIA/AMD Survey having said they "would prefer qualifying to be decided by the best time from a specified number of flying laps", sources have told Autosport-Atlas that the FIA is now likely to put pressure on the team to agree to revert to the old system.

Only this week, the current single-lap format, and especially the manner in which the running order penalises drivers who retire from the previous race, was roundly criticised by McLaren boss Ron Dennis and Red Bull Racing's David Coulthard.

Dennis said: "Not only do you not finish a race, which is bad enough, but you carry this disadvantage to the next event, because of your start position on the next qualifying session. When you had two qualifying sessions there was some possibility of minimising the effects of your start position, but now with one qualifying session it is really hard."

Coulthard added: "If you go out early in one race, you have to start early in qualifying for the next. That means you have a bad qualifying, because physically you just cannot go quicker than someone else who has an equal lap later in the session because the track is in a better condition.

"So it is a handicapped F1 system we have. You are handicapped if you have an engine failure, even if it is no fault of the driver, and then the crowd are deprived of what may be a fantastic race, as they were in France."

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