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Drivers react to qualifying Changes ahead of season opener in Melbourne
Posted By: James Allen  |  13 Mar 2014   |  9:08 am GMT  |  128 comments

The FIA has made some subtle last minute changes to the F1 qualifying rules for this season, to ensure that cars go out in the third and final part of the session. And FIA Race Director has cleared up some important details about how other aspects of the racing this year will be policed.

All cars will be given an extra set of the softest tyres brought by Pirelli. The cars which qualify between P11 and P22 are allowed to use them in the race, but the cars which qualify in the top ten have to use them in Q3 only. They will then start the race on the tyres they used to set their Q2 time.

Fernando Alonso’s reaction to the changes was, “I think it will not be a huge difference, from the outside especially. OK there were some cars that didn’t run in Q3 or they only did one run in Q3 and now maybe we’ll see an extra lap from everybody but apart from that I think it’s not a huge change in approach in the qualifying for the teams and the drivers. Anyway, I think this change is welcome, to see more cars on tracks. I arrive many times with no new sets for Q3, so now I’m happy.”

To accommodate the changes, Q1 has been shortened and Q3 lengthened slightly. This should make for a busy track in all three sessions and some traffic problems in Q1 and Q2 particularly.

There is concern this weekend that we may not see some cars running in the final practice session on Saturday morning due to reliability concerns. If a team thinks it has a problem it is unlikely to risk running in FP3 and then lose the chance to compete in qualifying due to being forced to change a power unit, which takes far longer than the two hours between Fp3 and Qualifying.

FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting acknowledged that some teams have already indicated to him that they may well do this and the rules do not forbid it.

These are early days with this technology, but Whiting stressed that the F1 teams will get on top of it and this is expected to be a short term problem.

In a briefing to the media, Whiting clarified a few points. The new 5 second penalty for a driving infringement will be applied as a car pits before any work is done on it. If the driver does not need to stop again the penalty will be applied on the slowing down lap and the results adjusted accordingly.

The 107% rule for cars being allowed to race, despite being too slow to qualify – the stewards will use their discretion on this and only if a car has been able to do hardly any laps at all will it possibly fall foul of the rule.

Another key point is that Pirelli has asked for three aspects of tyre use to be regulated by the FIA:

A minimum starting tyre pressure
End of straight camber (the angle at which the tyres lean in at the top) to protect the tyre shoulders
A maximum temperature for the tyres in the blankets prior to use (this will be regulated by a thermometer sticker on the tyres)

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I think this explains why Vettel qualified outside the top 10. It’s nothing to do with software – he just wanted the extra set of tyres!


Lets give the Q3 guys super super soft Quali tyres and let them go hell for leather like the old days.

Craig in Manila

Just seems to me that, with every rule change, F1 is becoming more complex for someone to sitdown and watch.

Quali used to be a battle to determine who was fastest. Really was quite simple and I loved it because I then KNEW who had the balls-out fastest car’n’driver package irrespective of how the race panned-out on the next day.

Now it’s a chessgame for the sole purpose of placing the car in the optimum position on the grid to conduct the race in an optimum fashion as pre-determined by the spreadsheet strategist hidden somewhere in a dark-room.

The spreadsheet strategist might not want the car to be on pole. He might not even want it in the Top10.

As such, for us viewers, what purpose does Quali now serve ?

As we now know/realise that pole doesnt necessarily mean fastest, will we leap excitedly from the armchair and say “WOW ! Lewis just achieved 99.9% of the optimum time as requested by his spreadsheet strategist!” ?

Will the commentators excitedly scream “He hit his delta to two decimal places ! Amazing !”.

Please just remove Quali and have them start the race in order of the fastest laps from the prior race. Simple as that.


You might be right strategy wise, but it’s this simple:

Put any race driver in any race car in quali and he will want to be on pole, strategy be damned.

Craig in Manila

Pretty-hard for a driver to push for pole if the team doesn’t let him go out in Q3 for “strategy reasons”.

And anyways, we see plenty of evidence that drivers drive the care only as fast as the team allows. They rarely, if ever, disobey the strategy and push harder.


During the race for sure, but even then remember in Silverstone last year when the tyres were exploding?

They were all told to be careful and avoid the curbs, but I don’t think one of them paid any attention.

If the team doesn’t let them go out in Q3 that’s one thing, but if they do then I’m sure they’ll do the fastest lap they can.


Less than three hours now.

Cheers to all my F1 mates!

Happy season all. May one’s

driver/team win it all! 😀


So long as one’s driver/team isn’t Vettel/Red Bull! 😀

Cheers to you also gpfan, let’s hope it ends up being as good as it has the potential to be 🙂


Extra quail tyres make sense. But no idea why they changed the timing – makes sense to have longer at the start with more cars.

The rule changes I’d really like to see are with engine homologation. You wouldn’t have frozen the chassis last year with red bull’s advantage – so why on earth are engines frozen in their very first year with huge differences.


Also they let a relatively little F1 team spend millions on little bits of carbon fibre, so why shouldn’t a huge company like Merc / Ferrari / Renault be allowed to spend millions to improve power units that one day might end up in our cars in one form or another? – That is the whole point of the new regs, right?



A good question for which I have no good answer.

Didn’t it occur to them that some suppliers and teams might have teething problems?


Qualifying the good old way: 1hr, 12 laps – SIMPLE!!!


It’s really getting too artificial, I think.

I believe they should go back to one timed lap per car. Start with the slowest or lowest placed in the championship. This garuntees sponsors with air time and slowly builds excitement as the session progresses.

It would be cheaper and have less reliability issues for the teams while putting more emphasis on the driver to deliver.


I do enjoy watching the current qualifying format, but I’m not so sure it’s good for the race itself.

Currently during each session the drivers can have two or three chances to post their best time, which means that the grid ends up being more or less the same for every race i.e. fastest driver/teams at the front, midfielders in the middle, and Caterham at the back.

Going back to one-shot quali would re-introduce the potential for the drivers to make a mistake, which would result in a mixed up grid, which more often than not would result in a more interesting race.

Not only that, but the fastest drivers *might* choose to back off slightly in order to avoid making a mistake, rewarding the driver who’s a little more daring by giving them the opportunity to move up the grid.

And the best part is that one-shot quali would do all this without having to resort to gimmicks like reverse grids.

So +1 Adam, let’s bring it back 🙂


F1 comes up with the worst rules ever, I’m cereal. It’s a joke. There’s even more incentive to qualify 11th now than there already was.


Some teams have told me that raw pace in quail isn’t that important. It’s how you run your race, especially at this early stage


What have any said about the costs-benefits to running in free air, or running close behind another car?


Could you be more specific please Timmay?

For example are you rice bubbles or fruit loops?


I think top teams could make Q3 with hard tyres, qualify in soft and race again in hard. A big advantage!

What about if teams use wet tyres in Q2 and dry soft ones in Q3? Will they be forced to use the soft tyres?


I see the 107% rule is being relaxed as well. There must be some real concern from the inside regarding qualy with all these tweaks. I also read that Alonso thinks the fans will find it very difficult to follow who is doing what with regards to fuel saving/energy harvesting/tyre management in the race itself. I imagine the commentators too. F1 will need some really good tv graphics to copensate for all the technology the fans can’t see. Looking forward to it though.


What does “straight camber” means? Do cars use straight, or zero, camber at all and if so, what’s the problem with that… confused here.


I’d rather they just have all the drivers one set of the option tyre for the whole of qualifying so the more laps they do the less they have for later – imagine the pressure if your a top team/driver of only having one window or lap to get out of q1 while the midfield might risk a couple of Laps in the quest for glory and knock out a faster driver…..


If the teams can qualify for Q3 with the prime tyre in Q2 surely they are laughing as they can pop on the option tyre for a shot at pole in Q3 and revert to what may be the optimal tyre for race day?


Hopefully the rule makes it clear what happens with grid penalties and/or a wet Q3.

For grid penalties, I guess the new rule will be based on who gets into Q3, rather than on who starts in the top 10. So it would make a grid penalty more severe if it means you also start with a set of tyres less than those around you.

But if someone else’s penalty promotes you into the top 10, that could rather handy (assuming you get to keep your extra set).

If Q3 is wet and the race is a mix of wet and dry, I think the top 10 will find themselves two sets down (i.e. options under the new rule, plus wets/inters having used them in Q3). So ironically the new rule might sometimes discourage running in a wet Q3!


I have always thought that after the refuelling ban, Q3 was not needed anymore because prior to refuelling, cars have always gone the fastest in Q2 anyway with the least amount of fuel and the fastest tyres. Q2 was the time to go flat out. Q3 formed the final grid positions depending on fuel loads where a team could go with a more aggressive strategy with less fuel and the highest grid posiition or with a less aggressive approach with a fully fuelled car which is more representative of its actual position on race day.

This provided more excitement because the viewers, the broadcasters or the other teams have no clue who has what fuel load and when the cars were going to pit. You could have a car who qualified in P1 but had to pit 4-5 laps earlier because it had less fuel in Q3.

Now that refuelling is not allowed anymore and the drivers have to start on their Q2 tyres where they have set their fastest times, what is Q3 for?


Sorry, I meant “Q3 was not neede anymore because prior to the refuelling BAN”


Personally I’m against this, I thought the added strategic element on the saturday played well onto the sunday “show”


No one has picked up in the other change. The regs in max camber and max temp out of blankets.

This will hurt redbull. They ran an obscene amount of rake on their car, they were able to do this for a few reasons that I can’t be arsed trying to type on my phone, however, they had to run more camber as a result of the geometry. This will now not be possible(if the rules are what was suggested as safe last year)

I think the quali rule is good. Let’s hope this year as good as the build up. I do hope massa puts some manners on Teflon. I can’t stand him. [mod]. To see him swanning about after the macca carry on and the. The same again after crash gate made me sick.


I’m wondering how they’ll check and police tyre pressure at the start of a race.


Hi James, I feel they are trying too hard to make F1 more interesting and have caused it became over complicated for majority to understand the sport. Only die hard fans will be able to follow all these. This may not be good to attract new fans.


Sitting in Charlie’s briefing yesterday I agree with you!

They’ve taken an already opaque sport and made it even more complicated. Good luck to the commentators!

kenneth chapman

to coin a phrase from an old physicist, ‘then why is it so?’


For me this is just making the rules more complex and therefore even harder to follow and that is coming from someone who has followed F1 for over 30 years. I understand the reasons but I think these people really need stop and consider things for us fans, old and new.

Also, what kind of bright spark introduces even stricter engine usage rules (5 per year now) at the same time as enforcing a brand new power train system that is more complex and advanced than anything we have ever since before in F1, I don’t understand the logic.

I like the mix up this year, the potential for failures reminds me of F1 as a boy when mechanical DNF’s were much more common. But surely losing an engine in the race is punishment enough this year and the teams and engine manufacturers should have been given more engines for the season this year, the year of introduction, not less. This would have encouraged more running, not less.

I will be working late to catch FP1 tomorrow morning and I really hope I am rewarded with lots of cars doing lots of laps.


Does this mean quicker cars that manage to get in to Q3 on the harder tyres will then have an extra set of softs for the race


I wonder; if the Renault engine is as down on power as some are saying, and seemingly it’s locked in by the rules concerning engine mods for the season, I wonder if any of the top drivers in Renault-engined cars will decide to take a sabbatical rather than spend the year languishing in mid-field? I’m of course thinking most of all of a certain Herr Vettel.

If so, it could be a good year for a few reserve drivers.


I don’t understand why they complicate it. Keep the 3 session format and give all drivers one set of the hardest tires for all the sessions. If they get a puncture or flat spot it should be viewed as car failure or driver accident etc. Then bin those tires! It would be better all round because the teams who expect to get into Q3 will have to push as hard in Q2 because the midfield teams expect to be lower down and will take as much out of the tire as possible. This would apply to the slower teams pushing the midfield the same.

There would be less waste too.

kenneth chapman

this is rubbish. it is all cosmetic flim flam. why cant it be simplified by letting the teams choose whatever tyres they want to qualify on then once the grid has been established let the teams once again race on whatever tyres they choose out of a selection of whatever compound tyres pirelli choose to take.

this continual puffery in order to ‘spice’ up the show is nonsensical in the extreme.


Or they could have, you know, gone back to the pre-2010 rule of being allowed to start on whichever tyre you wanted. Much less complex, much less contrived, and probably much more effective.

Could we have some common sense for once…?


I couldn’t agree more. I still think teams should be allotted a specific number of brand new tyres each session.



Add to that, use whatever tyre company they want also.

As for the 5 second penalty rules, blah! Better are penalties that happen in the race. I’d hate to see someone winning the race, but get held up by a backmarker at the end, and win by 4 seconds, but incur a penalty of 5 seconds. Imagine the scrap for the top step of the podium!


The 2003 British MotoGP round at Donington springs to mind. Valentino Rossi took the chequered flag with a couple of seconds margin over 2nd place, but was demoted to 3rd after a 10-second penalty was retrospectively applied for passing under yellows. Rossi and many fans were furious.

Later that same season in Australia, Rossi suffered the same penalty, for the same offence. But this time, race direction had learned from the backlash after Donington, and put out a board applying the penalty during the race. Rossi’s reaction was to cruise away from the rest of the field and win the race by 15 seconds, negating the penalty and sticking two fingers up to the stewards in spectacular fashion 🙂

Applying penalties during the race is definitely preferable, if it’s at all possible.


That’d be better than what is about to happen for sure, but you went and spoiled it with the notion of common sense having any place with the rule makers in F1 today.

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