Ranking the Best Ways to Improve and Overhaul F1 Qualifying
As revealed on Autosport last week, Formula One teams and the sport’s governing body, the FIA, are to discuss plans to change the format of the qualifying regulations.
A meeting of the team managers and the FIA is set for February 21, with at least a couple of ideas to change the qualifying spectacle for the better set for discussion.
Here are four ways in which qualifying could be improved.
Starting the Race on Q2 Tyres
The current qualifying rules stipulate that the 10 drivers who make it into Q3 have to start the race on the set of tyres with which they set their best Q3 time.
However, with Pirelli’s faster-wearing tyre compounds causing teams to pit earlier than expected as their tyres begin to lose grip, several teams opted not to set a time in Q3 or simply to allow them a free tyre choice for strategic reasons or simply cruise around to save their tyres.
One solution to this problem would be for teams to start the race on the tyres they set their best Q2 time with, meaning there would be no incentive to sit out Q3.
An Extra Set of Tyres for Final Qualifying
Another incentive for drivers to push as hard as possible in both Q2 and Q3 is to give them an extra set of qualifying tyres for the final session.
With the luxury of an extra set of new tyres for Q3, drivers would be less inclined to sit out the session or merely cruise around in an attempt to save their tyres for the race.
Extending the Duration of Q3
At present, teams that make it through to Q3 have 10 minutes with which to set a best qualifying time.
Although cars may attempt to complete as many laps as they like, the time constraints mean that teams are often only able to complete a maximum of two runs.
Lengthening the duration of Q3 by at least five minutes would allow enough time for the top 10 drivers to complete at least two qualifying runs and give a more accurate representation of performance.
One Single Session on Saturday with Bespoke Qualifying Tyres
Another option could be to revert back to the old system of pre-2003, with teams undertaking a single one-hour session.
This way, spectators would get to see several cars on the circuit at the same time, pushing hard to improve their lap times with a maximum of 12 laps to set their best time.
Strategy then becomes a factor in terms of monitoring weather and track temperature with the obvious disadvantage being long periods of inactivity as the bigger teams bide their time and wait for rubber to be laid down.
If teams were given bespoke qualifying and race tyres, there is also the question of escalating costs.