Formula 1 bosses have agreed to introduce a new elimination-style qualifying system at the Australian Grand Prix, but will retain the current Q3 format, although reducing the number of cars from ten to eighth.
It had previously been reported that the change, which sees drivers eliminated every 90 seconds, would be delayed until the Spanish GP. However it was recognised that a mid-season change wouldn’t go down well with fans. Therefore the timing software will be readied in time for the first race, Bernie Ecclestone has promised.
The new format will be modified slightly. Q1 and Q2 will both last 16 minutes each. After seven minutes, the slowest driver will be eliminated every 90 seconds. That will leave 15 cars to progress through to Q2, before another seven will be eliminated.
Q3 will see eight cars fight it out for pole position in a session lasting 12 minutes. No eliminations will happen, therefore it will remain a straight shoot-out until the end of the session.
It was feared drivers would not run in Q3 under the original elimination system because tyres would become an issue, therefore team bosses, during a meeting on Tuesday evening with Charlie Whiting, agreed to keep the original Q3 format.