F1 to introduce new qualifying format, wider car regulations principally agreed

on
F1 Test, Barcelona, Circuit de Catalunyaes

Meetings of the F1 Strategy Group and the F1 Commission were held yesterday in Geneva, resulting in the approval of a modified qualifying format for the sport, possibly in time for the start of the 2016 season. However, while the FIA said 'constructive proposals were agreed' , the bodywork regulations for 2017 have not been finalised just yet.

A new qualification format was unanimously accepted by the F1 Commission. The new system is being evaluated for introduction, potentially as soon as the beginning of the 2016 season.

The basis of the new elimination format is as follows:

Q1:
  • 16 minutes
  • After 7 minutes, slowest driver eliminated
  • Slowest driver eliminated every 1 minute 30 seconds thereafter until the chequered flag
  • 7 drivers eliminated, 15 progress to Q2
Q2
  • 15 minutes
  • After 6 minutes, slowest driver eliminated
  • Slowest driver eliminated every 1 minute 30 seconds thereafter until the chequered flag
  • 7 drivers eliminated, 8 progress to Q3
Q3
  • 14 minutes
  • After 5 minutes, slowest driver eliminated
  • Slowest driver eliminated every 1 minute 30 seconds thereafter until the chequered flag
  • 2 drivers left in final 1 minute 30 seconds

The final elimination in each session occurs at the chequered flag – not when time is up.

In a first reaction to the announced change, Williams' Pat Symonds said in the paddock that it would make qualifying more complicated for the teams.

"It's going to be quite tough," he said. "We certainly need to spend a lot more time thinking about it. I don't think it's going to improve qualifying itself, in fact I think there's a danger qualifying might not be as exciting, it may not build up to that final crescendo.

"But what it has a good chance of doing is improving the race. It's quite a difficult situation, it's done at very short notice, we're not going to have a lot of time to get our thoughts together and optimise everything and write loads of software to help us optimise it.

"And so I think all of us are going to make mistakes, especially early on and that means there will be occasions when cars are out of position. We will see some of the quicker cars a bit further back, and we all know that's given us some great races in the past."

Driver of the day

A "driver of the day" award suggestion was also approved and will see its introduction this season. Fans will be able to vote during races, after which the winner can receive his prize during the post-race broadcasts.

2017 bodywork regulations

Following the recommendation of the Strategy Group, the F1 Commission agreed to postpone the deadline for the finalisation of 2017 Sporting and Technical Regulations until 30 April, 2016 – to allow all stakeholders the best opportunity to complete all relevant work.

Still, while the regulations need to be completed, the basic concepts have been agreed, which essential lead down into wider tyres, wider cars, a return to a wider and lower rear wing and a much larger diffuser.