Tyre Changes Could Return to F1

Tyre changes could return to Formula One next season as part of a package of changes forced by a revamp of qualifying, Autosport-Atlas has learned

Tyre Changes Could Return to F1

Teams are currently locked in discussions about a new format for qualifying next season and it is widely acknowledged that the favourite option among the four ideas being investigated is a knock-out format.

This would involve three separate sessions during qualifying, with the slowest five drivers in the first 15 minutes being knocked out and handed positions 16-20 on the grid, while the slowest five drivers from the next 15 minutes session would then be knocked out and secure positions 11-15.

The top ten grid positions will then be decided by a final 20 minute shoot-out session, with cars running with race levels of fuel. Those already knocked out can choose their strategy after qualifying.

On the back of this idea, sources have revealed a majority of teams are now also pushing for a change in the regulations which will allow the return of tyre changes next season.

The suggestion, which has been put forward by Williams' Patrick Head and Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn who are in charge of formulating the procedures for the qualifying, is to allow teams to have the option of using three sets of tyres for races next year.

The idea is that teams will be allowed to have five sets of tyres per race weekend. Two of these will be evaluated during free practice, with the other three used during the various stages of the knock-out qualifying.

The teams will be forced to start the race with the same set of tyres that they finished qualifying on - but will then be allowed to have access to the other two sets from qualifying in the race.

However, not every team is in favour of the suggestion to abandon the current rule that prevents teams from changing tyres during the race.

McLaren boss Ron Dennis is believed to be strongly opposed to the idea - which is no wonder considering his team's MP4-20 chassis has proved to be one of the best at dealing with long-life tyres.

Any move to revert to tyre changes would be of huge benefit to Bridgestone, who have struggled this season to get on top of the long-life tyre rules - which were introduced on safety grounds in a bid to reduce speeds.

With F1 switching to 2.4-litre V8 engines next season, the cars are set to be slowed enough to allow the use of extra sets of tyres in the races without safety being compromised.

The plans for qualifying will be discussed at a meeting of the Formula One Commission on October 24, where talks will also take place about the use of third cars on the Fridays of Grand Prix weekends.

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