F1 Winter Break
Knockout qualifying and other fun and games
Knockout qualifying and other fun and games
Posted By:   |  20 Nov 2008   |  7:58 pm GMT  |  16 comments

There has been a lot of chat this week about Bernie Ecclestone’s idea of handing out gold medals to race winners and awarding the world championship to the man with the most at season’s end.

This is one of a number of ideas which will be discussed at the FIA World Council meeting on December 12th. The Formula One Teams Association has been working hard on dreaming up ideas for improving the show as well and Flavio Briatore has a plan for knockout qualifying, which seems to be gathering some momentum.

The idea is simple, instead of dividing qualifying up into three sessions and guessing fuel weights at the end, all cars go out with a fixed amount of fuel and after an out-lap they start setting times, the slowest car each lap will be eliminated until only six remain, at which point they put new tyres on and fight for pole. There is talk of incentives for pole including a cash prize and a single world championship point. Ferrari favours a more conservative approach, suggesting that a return to the points system pre-2004, with points down to 6th place and only 6 points for second, will provide the same incentive to win.

The final version will be hammered out at the FOTA meeting on December 4th, in time for the World Council.

Despite putting on one of the most exciting seasons of racing in living memory, which has brought back many fans disaffected by the Schumacher dominated years in the early 2000s, F1 is seeking spectacle and entertainment and it seems prepared to go through a mini-revolution to achieve it. What do you think, how far can they go before it becomes something other than F1?

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clearly going down to the last corner wasn't good enough. The only thing that needs changing right now (and thats only slightly) are things that affect costs. Ie, Testing. Do away with most of the in season testing, and give them more track time on friday. I know some people don't think Friday is particularly intriguing, but most of the time its not even broadcast, and quite frankly all the public really want is track action, which 3 or 4 years ago was hard to come by on a Friday. Keep the point system, keep the qualifying system, theyre both proven winners.



The medals system is a tacky idea IMO. I'm all for rewarding winners, but do it with points. If only the top 3 drivers come away from a race weekend with anything to show for it, you might as well have a grid of 2 teams and be done with it. There's more to F1 than the front runners.

However, I'm also against the Ferrari suggestion of the old points format. These days, with the cars so reliable, if 2009 gives us a clear trio of top teams as 2007 and 2008 both have, then everybody else is racing for scraps when there is a retirement.

I'd sooner see the points positions expanded down to 10th place and a bigger points differential between 1st and 2nd places. A scoring system along the lines of 15, 10, 8, 7 ,6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 should do the trick, rewarding winners and giving the drivers and teams in the close midfield battle more to squabble over.


I agree with previous commenters - where did fiddling around with qualifying get us over the past few years? The present format works, and provides a pretty exciting hours' viewing, so is best just left alone, thanks.

The medals idea I hate. It reminds me of a quote of Damon Hill's on hearing that Silverstone had lost the British Grand Prix: "Bernie struggles with the concept that F1 is not like the Olympics, which is involved in the regeneration of the East End of London. Taxpayers are happy in principle with that. But no one is going to buy into giving F1 money."

And they're still not going to, gold medals or not. It would be a cheap joke to claim that Bernie will have to fund his divorce some other way...


Does Bernie mean medals literally or figuratively? Or both? I hate the idea from all angles, literally in the sense that it's nice to see what an interesting piece the winners trophy is. Plus i think a driver would be more satisfied after he's retired with a cabinet full of interesting sculptures than a few shiny coins.
And figuratively in the sense that there's potential for many teams giving up if there's only 3 finishing positions that matter. Would Toyota stick around? What about Honda?
The only thing that i think is wrong with the current scoring system is that the gap between 1st and 2nd isn't big enough. There should be a bonus for winning the race to incite the drivers to take more risks.


It sounds to me that F1 executives feel threatened by A1 GP.First there's KERS (will give the cars a little boost,A1 GP has something similar,though it's just a boost,not KERS),which is still fine by me.But then there're talks about medal system?Point for pole? (in A1 GP,they give 1 championship point for fastest lap setter).What next?no refueling and split the race into two races?F1 is interesting because it is different and exclusive.Making it too similar with any other formula series will decrease its excitement.

I don't think Flavio's qualifying idea will be accepted.There are too much to risk on a single lap qualifying.But maybe team's bosses would love the idea of incentive.


It's classic Bernie tactics isn't it? He's not serious about the medals surely? Just like the idea of a single F1 engine supplier, it's a radical idea which forces the teams to come up with alternatives or accept a comprimise.

I think the winner of the race should get 12 points, pole position should get 1, but the rest could remain the same. Also, we shouldn't forget the spectacle is the race: qualifying with fuel may make qualifying less entertaining, but certainly adds a lot to the races.

Having said that, with the qualifying proposal give, if a lead driver goes off the track or makes just one mistake he'll be well down the grid. Which could be very interesting. It's like one-lap qualifying again, but instead it's 14 laps with no margin for error.


14-10-7-5-4-3-2-1. Do the powers-that-be think we can't add up? Fix the points system to reward the top 3 appropriately. This will do for medals. Leave the qualifying system alone, apart from the Q3 fuel loads. Low fuel all the way.

This (as a philosophy) is probably too simple for the little-big-boys to understand, so let's give out some medals, points for pole, fastest lap and 1 for the guy that just tries his best. Give everyone else a pat on the head, a friendly wink, take their money and head for the next exotic destination - an underwater GP on the Great Barrier Reef - complete with sharks to improve the "show"!


Lol, some great ideas there Toby.

Though, thinking about it, I'm coming round to this new qualifying format. However, they should let small teams buy themselves up the grid. For example, Force India cars may put 6 laps of fuel in, so only do 6 of the 14, but they'd be lighter and not necessarily be eliminated first.

I'm against change for the sake of change, but having given it some proper thought - I do quite like it.


What about awarding points for the driver that overtakes the most?


The lot of them are totally bonkers!

If it is posturing by Bernie.. it shouldn't be done in the public gaze... it just sours the worlds view on how the sport is run ... Indy 6 cars as a point..

Next giving prize money to drivers who are already paid mega bucks to do what the obviously have to do ( unless the leading drivers want to start at the back of the grid ) is ludicrous... I thought they wanted to save money not just chuck it down the drain.

Every time they introduce these ideas it is obvious what the pitfalls are. Flavio and Renault were all in favour of sealed engines until it disadvantages them. They all thought the closing the pits was a good idea until one by one they were affected.. then that was a rubbish idea...

Sometimes they are a rudderless crew shouting overboard...'Every man for himself'

To me what is obvious is what everyone has suggested so far... change the points up not down... its good enough for MotoGP.

The new suggested qualifying is laughable. There will be constant complaints and stewards enquiries into who blocked who on this lap or that lap. What happens when a Force India nudges the extra wide wing of a Ferrari and destroys the whole qualifying... boy can you see the accusations fly. You may as well just have a lottery draw as this would save a lot of money.

As for Medals in reality or principle.... It suits Ferrari to whinge if they can make an advantage of it. In this instance Massa won one more race... but inveitably Hamilton drove defensively to maintain his points lead.. it's part of the sport. It still turned out to be a cliffhanger.

I cannot understand this mad fixation by the team managers to constantly tinker - Football seems to have survived without constant rule tinkering.

Most of all the best thing they can do to enhance the sport is review their mad decision making on and off the track


"Having said that, with the qualifying proposal give, if a lead driver goes off the track or makes just one mistake he’ll be well down the grid. Which could be very interesting."

But it wouldn't just be that driver that suffers - anyone behind him that needs to slow to avoid an incident would also get penalised, plus there is the opportunity to get the vengeful blocking scenario. Result - too may rules for the stewards to misinterpret and outcome = chaos.


JA writes: Think about the way the first ten laps or so would evolve, especially based on the relative performances this season; if you were Force India you'd carry only 6 laps of fuel because you'd expect to get no higher than P14 at best, but you might catch out Hondas and Red Bulls who would have to put enough fuel in to allow them to run in the top ten, should they get that far.

It would put big pressure on drivers to keep doing hot laps one after another with no let up, something we've not seen before in F1, something more akin to GP2 qualifying. But they don't play with fuel loads, as F1 cars would.

It would be the most colossal gamble how much fuel you carried at the start of the hour and as Bill says, you'd get mistakes under pressure so you could end up with some fairly exciting grids. I don't think it would have shaken up the order at the front too much this year as the top four cars were a lot faster than the rest with BMW and latterly Renault chasing behind. But with a new playing field next year, who knows? It also depends what the rules are on strategy for the race, is it free to decide on race day or would fuel loads be locked off based on what you had left from quali? That would make the front runners pretty light in the opening stint and would spread out the field a lot to start with, but mean early stops for the leaders.

This idea of Flav's could have some legs and it's got a lot more drama about it than single lap qualifying.


Points: 10, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1

Qualifying: 1 hour. 12 laps.

That's how it should.

No faffing about with bronze medals after a 3 hour qualifying session split into 12 fifteen minute sections.

Keep it simple because if it isn't broke (and it never was) then don't try to fix it.


Ok, so what James described doesn't sound too bad, i'll admit. But as others have said, is the track big enough for 22 people to do 22 decent laps in? How are they let out of the pitlane? surely they'd all be rushing to be first out? The idea in essence is simple, however the details may be more complicated. In my opinion, a little bit more excitement doesnt justify the change from what is an already exciting system.


i think the points system should remain simular, maybe points going as far down to 10th, with a bigger gap between 1st and 2nd.

also, i think a point should go for the fastest lap.


Hi James,

I always have an issue with the view, that some how the lead drivers end up at the back of the grid through ' External factors' is a good thing for exciting racing.

To me F1 is a purist sport - about teams and drivers trying to be the best they can over a number of years to achieve a pinnacle in the sport. I hate it when a random result is brought about through rain, attrition, luck, or other factor and then that team or driver claims it as a true result. Everyone knows that the result would never have happened otherwise... yet the records will not reflect this.

Understandably over a season, inevitably it ends up happening... it's just the way. However, I can not get excited about it happening every weekend due to a lottery of qualifying. If any of the top teams end up in the bottom order, then it will not be a true reflection of their performance or the sport which will be bad for its image.

Under Bernie's new medal system, it will be no good getting excited about Lewis overtaking his way from 18th up to 2nd at the flag as second counts for nothing as only wins count!

We should never celebrate the order of the grid being randomised by qualifying based on a force India running on low fuel why Ferrari has to use a full tank? or perhaps oils spills or breakdowns. Football does not go to the extreme of constantly changing its rules to make it exciting so why does F1?

As for Flavio, Mark my words, watch him change his tune when Alonso has been impeded a few times.


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