Qualifying format not settled but no reverting to 2015

MANAMA • Formula One teams and stakeholders failed to agree a fix for the sport's failed new qualifying format at the Bahrain Grand Prix yesterday and agreed instead to go away and consider a compromise by Thursday.

"No decision has been made, we haven't reached the conclusions on how we want to continue yet," said Mercedes motor sports head Toto Wolff after a 11/2-hour meeting at the Sakhir circuit that hosts the season's second race.

Team bosses said various new formats were discussed, as well as staying with the current one, but there would be no going back to 2015 qualifying because both the International Automobile Federation (FIA) and commercial rights holder were opposed.

"It's not on the table," Wolff said of going back to the 2015 format, a move that the teams had proposed unanimously after the new system was panned on its Australian debut.

Williams deputy principal Claire Williams said there was a belief that "just going back to 2015 will create more confusion than is necessary".

The new elimination format, which sees drivers knocked out at timed intervals during the three sessions, was introduced hurriedly before the start of the season in a bid to shake up starting grids.

Instead, drivers have been eliminated while sitting in the garages in the final stage rather than battling for pole on track as in the past.

The situation has been a major talking point of the season so far, triggering uproar on social media and dominating much of the talk in the paddock.

Red Bull principal Christian Horner said a new proposal had been presented by the FIA but would not give details. "It just needs a bit more investigation perhaps with an aggregate time of two laps rather than a single lap," he said.

He avoided a question about whether the situation was more to do with a "power play" over who calls the shots in the increasingly troubled sport.

"The bottom line is, if we don't agree to a compromise then we are stuck with what we've got and I think everyone agrees that what we've got isn't right," said Horner.

Any change to the 2016 regulations needs to be approved unanimously by teams.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 04, 2016, with the headline 'Qualifying format not settled but no reverting to 2015'. Print Edition | Subscribe