Team chiefs say 'rubbish' F1 qualifying format has to change

Leading Formula 1 teams are adamant the 2016 qualifying format must be changed at the earliest opportunity after its underwhelming debut at the Australian Grand Prix

Team chiefs say 'rubbish' F1 qualifying format has to change

Though the new elimination system prompted an eventful start to Q1 as cars tried to get laps in quickly, later segments featured drivers sitting in the pits as the clock ticked down to eliminate them.

In Q3, most settled for the times from their first runs, with only the Mercedes coming out again, and the track was completely empty for the final two minutes once it was clear Nico Rosberg was not going to beat Lewis Hamilton to pole.

Mercedes team bosses Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda were among the most vociferous critics of the format.

"This is the biggest nonsense I have ever seen," said Lauda.

"I was not even sure if I should congratulate Toto and our drivers on our front row.

"We have to call a team principal meeting and ask the FIA to change the format with immediate effect. For Bahrain [the next race] already.

"To introduce this was totally wrong. It was like digging in the toilet."

Wolff said there could be no doubt after Melbourne that the system was a failure.

"I'm the first person to say that we shouldn't talk the sport down but when the evidence is there before your eyes, you cannot shut them and deny reality," he said.

"The new format is pretty rubbish - much too complicated to follow and a damp squib at the end with nobody running.

"These were the downsides that we expected to see - and they outweigh the upsides, that much is clear now.

"We wanted to listen to the promoters who were calling for a change - but my personal opinion is that we have found the wrong solution and we need to think carefully about what we do next."

DIETER RENCKEN: How F1 created its qualifying shambles

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner agreed that the system was a failure.

"We should apologise to the fans, we have not put on a show for them at all today which is a shame," he said.

"It's not good for qualifying to be done with five minutes to go, drivers and cars need to be out on track fighting for pole up until the last second.

"We should accept that we tried it, it didnt work and the important thing is we learn from it and address it quickly."

F1 commercial chief Bernie Ecclestone told Autosport he was certain changes could be made in time for the next race in Bahrain in a fortnight.

McLaren racing director Eric Boullier said that would only be possible if there was unanimous agreement.

"Technically you need only a couple of days to change whatever you want," he said.

"You just need to have an e-vote and the F1 Commission members can give an opinion.

"If everyone agrees then it could be done, but obviously I don't know if it's going to be unanimous or if some people want to give this qualifying format a chance.

"If there won't be unanimity then we can't change anything."

Boullier said McLaren's position was "it's worth rethinking this format", and admitted he could not understand why the objections that arose after it was announced were not heeded.

He said: "There were discussions between the teams, and the team managers clearly spotted that running from flag to flag in Q3 will not work, but we are not the governing body, so..."

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Bernie Ecclestone declares F1's new qualifying format 'pretty crap'

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