The future of quali for F1 remains a mystery as bosses were unable to come to a decision in time for the next race in Bahrain.
At the start of 2016, team principals were presented with the option of changing qualifying in a bid to spice up the racing on Sunday. Bernie Ecclestone presented the F1 strategy group with two options.
. Or have the 2015 style of qualifying and have the top eight re-ordered afterwards, moving the fastest cars backwards on the grid.
Team bosses went with the elimination style of quali. Which Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said was “the least worst option,” available to them. The changes were ratified at a meeting of the FIA world council, and the changes were rushed in for the Australian Grand Prix a few weeks later.
The new form of elimination quali was brought in at the Australian GP. The new format saw drivers eliminated every 90 seconds throughout the three qualifying session. However, this lead to the track being empty in the last four minutes of the third qualifying session. This was because teams opted to save tyres rather than try for another run. As a result, the session came under heavy criticism by many fans and personnel working in F1. An emergency meeting was called on the Sunday of the Australian GP, where team bosses agreed unanimously to change back to the 2015 qualifying rules in time for the Bahrain GP. The issue is for changes of this nature to be made during the season, the motion must go before a meeting of the F1 commission.
When the meeting was called on Thursday team bosses were surprised to find they were not presented with the option of reverting back to the old style of qualifying. Instead they were presented with two options.
. To keep qualifying unchanged as it was at the Australian GP
. Or stick with the elimination format for the first two sessions of qualifying but with an extra minute’s duration. Followed by a final qualifying session run as it had been in 2015.
Neither option was discussed previously with team bosses and as such a unanimous decision was not reached. Meaning the chances are the qualifying for Bahrain will remain unchanged.
The F1 commission set look to convene again for talks after the Bahrain GP. However, it remains to be seen if this will result in changes to qualifying.
Feature image credit: Mercedes AMG Petronas