While many Formula 1 fans herald Qualifying as a highlight of a Grand Prix weekend, Fernando Alonso suggests an overhaul of an ageing format is due to cater for modern-era F1 cars.
F1 has tinkered with qualifying over the years, the latest Q1-Q2-Q3 elimination format came into effect in 2010 and remained a mainstay of GP weekends.
But Alonso told Speedweek a change is due: “This is a difficult problem. No matter what rule is set, for example in the form of a target time, excuses are always found. Traffic management is really complicated.”
“There can basically only be one solution: the cars have to go back onto the track one at a time. Anything else won’t work. Our qualification system is outdated. We’ve had it for 20 or 25 years now, but we don’t have the same cars as we did 20 or 25 years ago.”
Actually, it is 13 years that the current Qualy format has been run. But let’s not facts get in the way of a good idea from the double F1 World Champion.
F1 has tinkered with Qualifying over the years to reach the current format
“We now have highly complicated hybrid racing cars with which the drivers have to charge the battery of their drive units; we have tires that need a warm-up and cool-down period. Against this background, car-by-car qualification is the only solution,” ventured Alonso.
F1 has tinkered with Qualifying over the years, from the original two one-hour sessions – whereby the best times of each driver (from those two sessions) decided the grid order, with the fastest time of all taking pole position – to what we have today the three stanza Q1-Q2-Q3 format.
From 2003 until and including 2005, F1 ran the Qualifying format Alonso suggests. One by one, Friday running would determine the order for a Saturday, and one flying lap the following day would sort the order for the race. Alonso was on the grid at the time as Renault driver. He won his first F1 title in 2005 and then a second a year later.
The downside of the one-lap-takes-all format is that drivers never got the same track conditions. Furthermore, fast drivers got ‘rubbered-in’ track conditions at the tail-end of a session. And, of course, changes in weather during the session would also compromise drivers one way or the other.
Big Question: Does F1 Qualifying need a revamp? If yes, how so?