Bernie Ecclestone has admitted that the new ‘elimination-style’ qualifying format, which passed through both the F1 Strategy Group and the F1 Commission this week, will not happen in Melbourne, because his technical team cannot prepare the software and graphics in time.
With qualifying in Melbourne just three weeks away, the 85 year old supremo pointed to this as the reason the hoped-for plans to shake up the format will not come to fruition.
Team sources in Barcelona this week were already sceptical that the new plan was not properly thought through. For example, one team sporting director raised the question of what would happen if there were a red flag at a critical stage of the season; how would it be decided who would be eliminated, or would the session have to restart from the beginning?
With the new season less than a month away it did seem an ambitious plan and rather a knee-jerk move at the last minute before the new season.
“The new qualifying won’t happen because we can’t get everything ready in time,” Ecclestone told the Independent. “We can’t get the software done in time. So the qualifying changes will probably be in Spain.”
Changing rules mid-season is always fraught with problems and switching qualifying formats mid-season is highly contentious.
One wonders how far the Spain introduction suggestion will get, with the FIA and teams likely to be reluctant to confuse TV viewers any more than the sport does already.
F1 needs to make itself more inclusive and accessible, not less. The new tyre regulations, for example, with three different compound available require careful explanation to casual fans. For something as simple as putting tyres on a car there is no need for such complex arrangements. And the engine penalties rules require a post graduate degree to understand.
More likely the new elimination-style qualifying format idea will be given time to develop, perhaps for 2017.