The powers that be in Formula 1 look set to introduce an eleventh-hour change to the qualifying rules for the 2014 World Championship season, according to media reports.
Just five weeks ahead of the Melbourne season opener, team bosses, Bernie Ecclestone and the governing FIA will meet in Bahrain on 21 February, during the official test session in the island Kingdom, to discuss the issue.
The Mirror newspaper said that the changes would be to ensure that drivers cannot sit out the decisive Q3 segment of qualifying, in order to save tyres or for other tactical and reliability reasons.
“Some believe that a return to the free-for-all hour long sessions of the past is the answer because the current three-part formula has added nothing to the Saturday spectacle,” said correspondent Byron Young.
The Telegraph’s new Formula 1 correspondent Daniel Johnson added: “To try and maintain the spectacle ,[the] strategy group has asked the teams and the FIA to come up with ways of forcing drivers to go for the best grid positions in Q3.
“Plans likely to be discussed are believed to include supplying drivers with an extra set of Qualifying tyres, specifically for the final part of the session,” he added.
Not likely to get voted through in Bahrain, meanwhile, is an extension of Bernie Ecclestone’s highly unpopular new double points concept.
To keep the title alive until the end, drivers will score twice as many points at the season finale in Abu Dhabi this year, but Formula 1’s Chief Executive has written to the teams asking that they vote for the concept to also include the preceeding two races.
Red Bull’s Christian Horner, no fan of the concept initially, indicated that he would support extending the scheme to three races because that would “take away an element of lottery over that last race”.
But because the proposed change is occurring so late, it would require a unanimous vote, and there are reports that the Mercedes-powered teams have no mind to support it.
Other teams are reportedly also not keen, a mischievous Lotus spokesman telling the BBC: “The best thing would be to make all the races double points.”
The British media report added: “More than one top team believes that it would be wrong to change the rules a month before the start of the season.” (GMM)
Subbed by AJN.