Formula 1 backflips on qualifying format

Sebastian Vettel of Germany drives during qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Pete Gill, James Galloway, Sky SportsFOX SPORTS

F1 authorities have agreed to revert to the 2015 qualifying format from the Chinese Grand Prix, Sky Sports understands.

The U-turn follows the decision of the teams to write to FIA president Jean Todt and F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone urging a return to last year’s format after they rejected a proposal to introduce an aggregate laps system.

The elimination-style format, brought in for the opening two races of the 2016 season, proved hugely unpopular with fans with the three qualifying segments regularly ending without any cars on track.

In a poll held on the Sky Sports Digital platforms, over 80 per cent of respondents voted for a return to the 2015 system.

“That’s what the fans wanted, that’s what the drivers wanted, and it’s what the team bosses put in a letter to Bernie Ecclestone and Jean Todt on Thursday when they were asked to vote on this aggregate qualifying system,” reported Sky Sports News HQ’s Craig Slater.

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton was a strident critic of elimination qualifying.

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton was a strident critic of elimination qualifying.Source:Getty Images

“The teams didn’t want that and they were not going to vote for it, even if it was better than the system used in the last couple of races, because there was an even better solution to which there was no impediment to being introduced - the 2015 system.

“Todt and Ecclestone had dug their heels in over this, but they’ve at least listened to what the teams and drivers wanted. It’s a common-sense solution.”

Teams had originally wanted the 2015 rules to be reinstated immediately after the new elimination format fell flat on its debut at the Australian GP last month, but the FIA subsequently offered only a hybrid solution for the race in Bahrain.

Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel openly mocked elimination qualifying.

Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel openly mocked elimination qualifying.Source:AP

After more criticism of the new system last weekend, a proposal for aggregate laps was put forward by F1’s governing body - although it received a lukewarm response from team bosses and was mocked by some drivers.

“It’s time to go to the circus,” said an especially unimpressed Sebastian Vettel.

Ahead of an intended vote on Thursday of the sport’s Strategy Group and F1 Commission, the united front displayed by the teams to return to the 2015 rules appears to have convinced Ecclestone and Todt to change their minds.

F1’s more traditional knockout system was first introduced in 2006, with the slowest drivers in Q1 and Q2 only out of the running when each session is completed, rather than at 90-second intervals.

Winner of both 2016 GPS thus far, Nico Rosberg was no fan of the revamped qualifying.

Winner of both 2016 GPS thus far, Nico Rosberg was no fan of the revamped qualifying.Source:AFP



All 22 cars

18-minute session

Slowest 6 cars knocked out & make up positions 17-22 on grid


Remaining 16 cars

15-minute session

Slowest six cars knocked out & make up positions 11-16 on grid


Remaining 10 cars

12-minute session

Final order makes up positions 1-10 on grid

This article originally appeared on Sky Sports

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