Formula 1 now looks likely to stick with the elimination-style qualifying introduced at the beginning of the season, but with minor tweaks which it’s hoped will avoid the problems encountered at the Australian Grand Prix.
Despite unanimous support during a team bosses meeting on Sunday morning ahead of the season-opening race to return to the old format, it’s now emerged that a number of parties, namely the FIA, Force India and Pirelli, are keen to stick with the new format, believing it is too early to pass judgement after just one race.
“It seems a shame to me to throw it all away when you have never evaluated it properly,” said Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley.
With unanimous support required to pass through such last-minute changes, a single opposing vote would see the format as it is remain in place, therefore it is now likely that a compromise will be agreed upon at a F1 Commission vote scheduled to take place this week.
It is believed that a mix of new and old will be put forward for the vote, rather than a complete U-turn. It’s likely that will involve an extended ‘safe period’ during Q1 and Q2 before the elimination process begins, whilst Q3 will be shortened to ten minutes, with eight cars battling it out for position without the fear of being eliminated.
If passed, the tweaked format will be in place for round two of the championship in Bahrain where it will be evaluated further.