Formula 1

New Elimination Style Qualifying Set For 2016

Formula 1 could be about to get a new elimination style qualifying format for this season in an attempt to add more unpredictability to the race weekend.

Formula 1 could be about to get a new elimination style qualifying format for this season in an attempt to add more unpredictability to the race weekend.

The proposed changes to the sport were voted by a meeting of the F1 commission in Geneva on Tuesday. Though the FIA still need to approve them as well.

Changes discussed at the meeting for the 2017 season

. Change to an elimination style qualifying (Set to come in as early as 2016)
. Head protection for the drivers
. Bodywork and tyre changes
. Introducing a fan vote for “Driver of the Day”

The proposed change to qualifying comes as the sport looks for ways to add a more unpredictable element into the weekend, and could be introduced this year if they are given the green light by the World Motorsport Council on March 4th. The idea is that an elimination style qualifying will lead to a more unpredictable grid. With eliminations happening throughout rather than the end, drivers and team mistakes will be punished even more than they are now.

Qualifying will still come in three parts. But the adaptions are as follows.

Q1
-Q1 will now last 16 minutes
– After 7 minutes the slowest driver is eliminated
– Every 90 seconds after this point the slowest driver will be eliminated until the chequered flag
– 7 drivers will be eliminated in this session, 15 will progress to Q2
Q2
– Q2 will now last 15 minutes
– After 6 minutes the slowest driver eliminated
– Every 90 seconds after this point the slowest driver will be eliminated until the chequered flag
– 7 drivers will be eliminated, 8 will progress to Q3
Q3
– Q3 will now last 14 minutes
– After 5 minutes the slowest driver eliminated
– Every 90 seconds after this point the slowest driver will be eliminated until the chequered flag
– 2 drivers will be left in final 90 seconds to shoot it out for pole

It is worth remembering that the final elimination in each session occurs when the relevant drivers pass the chequered flag, not when the time is up, unlike every other elimination. If a driver is on a flying lap as they are eliminated they are not given the chance to see if they can improve, they are out.

Qualifying was not the only area the F1 commission focused on, as they approved some form of head protection for 2017. The drivers and teams are reportedly favouring what is known as the ‘Halo’ concept. It involves two curved arms stretching forward from the back of the cockpit and arching round to meet at the front, where a vertical strut supports the structure. This design option gives added protection against flying debris as well. The ‘Halo’ would be a standard part that all teams would have to use on their car.

The decision behind improving cockpit safety for the driver has been in the headlines more and more over the last few years following several high profile deaths across open cockpit racing. Most notably for Formula 1, the death of former Marussia driver Jules Bianchi. He died in July 2015 from a head injury he sustained racing ten months previously at the Japanese Grand Prix in 2014. Though it has already been agreed the ‘Halo’ would probably not have saved him, it might stop incidents such as the one that killed English IndyCar driver Justin Wilson last year. Wilson was struck in the head with a piece of debris and died as a result of him injuries.

As well as head protection the commission have been looking into making the cars faster and more dramatic for 2017. This has been harder for the commission to pin down, and the proposed changes deadline has been extended to the end of April.

The new dimensions proposed are as follows.

. Cars will be made 2,000mm wide, up from the current 1,800mm
. The bodywork will be increased to 1,600mm with from 1,400mm
. More aerodynamic downforce will be produced by a redesigned floor
. Tyres will be wider: up from 245mm to 305mm at the front; and from 325mm to 405mm at the rear

All changes still need to be ratified at a meeting of the World Motorsport council on March 4th. But if approved, the qualifying changes could be rolled out in time for the new season in Australia on March the 20th.

Feature Credit Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2015_Malaysian_GP_opening_lap.jpg

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