Teams Close In on Knock-Out Qualifying

Formula One's proposed new qualifying regulations are set to include both low fuel and race fuel running if plans to introduce the new knockout format for next year are finally given the go-ahead

Teams Close In on Knock-Out Qualifying

The team bosses met with commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone on Friday to discuss proposals, which have been heavily backed by Renault boss Flavio Briatore among others, to change from the current single lap running in 2006.

The stumbling block was how to retain race fuel qualifying given the complicated knock-out format but Ross Brawn and Patrick Head, the technical chiefs from Ferrari and Williams, have been given the task of solving the problems.

BAR-Honda team principal Nick Fry is confident the pair will be able to find a solution and told Autosport-Atlas: "The only thing is there are certain issues with the knock-out format as to when you fuel up the cars.

"Do you fuel at the start of the hour or do you allow fuelling in between for some teams rather than others? You could allow the guys who get knocked out in the first two rounds to then have free fuel.

"That then gives them the opportunity to maybe then catch up, whereas the last ten, maybe, have to run with the fuel in the car at the end of their qualifying lap. There are a number of different permutations and it is quite complicated."

The fundamental idea behind the knock-out format was originally based on running without race fuel, but the teams are seeking a compromise because they are so desperate to get rid of the current format.

Fry said that all of team bosses like the proposed format and explained: "We would have all cars for the first 15 minutes or so, all would have to set a time and the last five get knocked out.

"Then there would be a five-minute break and 15 would come back on, zero the timing and in the next 15 minutes they all set a time and five go, then you get left with ten cars.

"They have 20 minutes and that is the grid order for the first ten. That is basically what it is. It means you get a lot of running through the hour and from a televisual point of view a number of us like it.

"At the moment Patrick and Ross were given the task of going away and sorting out some of the details. I think that could be done this weekend, there is not a lot of stuff that needs to be done."

Ecclestone said on Friday that he had already put a proposal to the Formula One commission but Fry suggested there are still some creases to iron out of the idea before that can be finalised.

And although all sides appear to now be pushing for the change, Fry remained cagey over predicting it will finally happen because of all the missed opportunities that have happened in the past.

Asked if the proposal was a definite, Fry said: "I think that is going a bit far! We have had so many discussions on this that saying we are confident we can put it aside this weekend might be overdoing it.

"It is quite complicated but I hope we can sort it out in the near future."

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