WEC drivers slam new, 'dangerous' qualifying format

The new World Endurance Championship qualifying procedure has been roundly criticised by the drivers

WEC drivers slam new, 'dangerous' qualifying format

They argue that the new systems, under which the grid is determined by the aggregate time of the two fastest laps set by each of two drivers, is both confusing and potentially dangerous.

Toyota driver Nicolas Lapierre, who claimed pole together with Alex Wurz in in the #7 Toyota TS030 HYBRID, said: "It is dangerous, because you will only get three timed laps, which means you have to take risks in traffic."

Anthony Davidson, who is driving the #8 Toyota, said the new system "diluted the purity of qualifying".

"Qualifying should be you against the track: low fuel, new tyres and, bang, you do your lap," he said. "That's diluted in sportscar racing anyway and this rule dilutes it even further."

Three-time Le Mans 24 Hours class winner Tom Kimber-Smith, who is racing for the Greaves Motorsport Zytek LMP2 team, questioned whether the new system was fan-friendly.

"I was lost looking at the timing screens, so what chance to the fans in the grandstand have?" he argued.

Audi Sport Team Joest technical director Ralf Juttner said he was reserving judgement on the system, because of the changeable conditions during the 20-minute prototype session and because of a glitch with the timing system.

"Because we had tricky conditions, it is difficult to say how it is going to work," he said. "We probably have to wait until we have a normal qualifying to see how it really works."

Some drivers have suggested that an aggregate of two laps times, one set by each driver, would be a better system. Others reckon it would be better if the 20-minute session was cut into two 10-minute segments, one for each driver.

The new system was introduced to make sure that there were cars on track throughout the two 20-minute sessions, one for the prototypes and one for the GT cars.

WEC general manager Gerard Neveu said: "Don't tell me that people would prefer to see no cars out on the track. If it it is difficult to understand, then maybe we will have to simplify it."

The new system will not be used at Le Mans in June.

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