Teams in No Rush to Change Qualifying

Formula One qualifying could take on a knockout format under one proposal being discussed by team bosses, but a change to the current format will not be rushed out

Teams in No Rush to Change Qualifying

The teams met at the San Marino Grand Prix on Friday and will have further talks on Saturday after widespread rejection of a system under which pole position is decided only on race morning. "I think everybody accepts that the current format's not working," said Minardi owner Paul Stoddart, whose cars are regularly at the back of the grid.

"Certainly Sunday qualifying is out of favour, I don't think you'll find a single supporter of that, not one. It's a dead duck."

Qualifying has become a running sore for Formula One organisers with regular changes in the last three years as a result of technical changes and moves to make the sport more entertaining.

The old flat-out scramble for pole has moved to a format with each driver running alone against the clock on various days.

The latest version, introduced this year, schedules first qualifying on Saturday and a final session on Sunday morning with pole decided on aggregate times.

Television companies have strongly criticised the format, with nothing decided on Saturday afternoon and limited viewing figures for Sunday morning when many people have other commitments.

No Rush

Stoddart said Friday's meeting had not made any firm decisions and did not expect anything to be cast in stone over the weekend either.

"I think it will involve at best support for a way forward," he said.

"There is an overriding feeling among the team principals that we're not changing it again unless the change we make is fully thought through, that its supported by everybody and that it's permanent," he said.

"Is it mark five or six now? I've lost count," he said of the changes. "Whatever it is it's too much." BAR boss Nick Fry has suggested a format divided into three sections on Saturday.

All cars would run for 15 minutes, after which the slowest five drivers are knocked out and interviewed during a five minute break.

The remaining 15 then run again with a further five deleted. The last 10 then have 20 minutes to fight for pole.

Other suggestions were for two half hour sessions on Saturday, the first with low fuel and second with a fuller load, or a return to the 2003 season's Friday/Saturday format.

Any change has to be agreed unanimously by all the teams and governing body.

"A knockout is one way of doing it," said Stoddart.

"In the interests of Formula One I'm not ruling anything out," he said. "Not even a system of qualifying that would grossly cut back our running time.

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Series Formula 1
Author Alan Baldwin
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