F1 Winter Break
F1 rules: Elimination qualifying confirmed for Australia – 2017 cars “5 secs faster”
Lewis Hamilton
Posted By: James Allen  |  04 Mar 2016   |  7:34 pm GMT  |  221 comments

The FIA World Motor Sport Council has voted through the new ‘elimination’ style qualifying system and has also agreed the first stage of technical changes to the cars for 2017, which it estimates will increase speeds by up to 5 seconds per lap.

There has been quite a bit of controversy and uncertainty over the new qualifying format, which will be in force from the first round in Melbourne in two weeks. It leaves little time for the new sporting regulations to be written around it, covering what happens in each eventuality, in the case of red and yellow flags and so on.

Kimi Raikkonen

This puts intense pressure on Charlie Whiting of the FIA and also the teams’ sporting directors, to perfect the mechanisms and processes to ensure that the first session on March 19 goes smoothly.

There have been a number of meetings already of sporting directors in the paddock at the Barcelona test and Whiting was there until Wednesday evening of this week hearing their views. The drivers have expressed some concern about the late decision to change something so fundamentally.

It will lead to more arguments between drivers as they will inevitably get in each others’ way as they look for a gap on the circuit and that could lead to eliminations.

The new elimination-style format:

– Q1

16 minutes duration
After 7 minutes, slowest driver eliminated
Slowest driver eliminated every 1 minute 30 seconds thereafter until the chequered flag
7 drivers eliminated, 15 progress to Q2
– Q2

15 minutes duration
After 6 minutes, slowest driver eliminated
Slowest driver eliminated every 1 minute 30 seconds thereafter until the chequered flag
7 drivers eliminated, 8 progress to Q3
– Q3

14 minutes duration
After 5 minutes, slowest driver eliminated
Slowest driver eliminated every 1 minute 30 seconds thereafter until the chequered flag
2 drivers left in final 1 minute 30 seconds

Fernando Alonso

Meanwhile the World Motor Sport Council agreed to allow the teams and the FIA to have an extension to April 30 to finalise the 2017 technical regulations. They are particularly keen to get the manufacturers to finalise “the four key areas of supply cost, obligation to supply, performance convergence, and further improvement of noise.”

However WMSC approved the 2017 bodywork regulations agreed among teams and noted that “early simulations have indicated an improvement in lap times by approximately 4-5 seconds on most circuits.”

This would take the fastest lap times at Barcelona down to around 1m 17s, which is a second faster than the 2009 Brawn double diffuser car.

Now that it’s a reality, are you excited about the ‘elimination’ style qualifying? Leave your comment below

Featured News
Editor's Picks
Share This:
Posted by:

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

This new qualyifying format could be downright dangerous at Monaco, and it also reduces the chances of a team getting a better position by timing their runs to best effect on a drying track. I hope Ferrari veto it !


James, now that the new qualifying system has been confirmed, could you do an article with Dominic Harlow about how a normal, dry qualifying session will go? A simulation, of sorts, of qualifying.

Also, has any of the powers-to-be actually simulated this qualifying system?


Typically, the only thing that was actually working well in F1 is the first thing they change. Sigh.


Qualifying has been a total bore under the current format!

The most exciting format was the original, when you never knew until the final flag who was on pole. Granted the top teams usually prevailed, but the one hour thrash really sorted out the tactics for the race. Perhaps this could be re-instated and possibly extended to one and a half hours, for the benefit of the TV coverage! Fingers and toes all crossed.


Alternatively, how about a qualifying RACE?

Start in reverse W/C order. Where you finish is where you qualify for the grand prix. Simple.

22 cars, 22 laps. NO elimination aspect.

Free choice on fuel load and tyres, giving you the strategy element of, “do I pit or not?” “Will the others pit or not?” “How much fuel do I put in?”

Fuel = weight, if you’re too heavy you’re going to get swallowed up by the pack and start further down.

Will give you a mixed up grid for the grand prix, and as an added bonus, because the drivers HAVE to overtake for better grid position, the teams will design simpler aero to run in dirty air too ;).



1.) Keep the “old” Q1, Q2, Q3 knockout format, but have single-lap qualifying in each mini-session. 7 are knocked out in Q1, 7 IN Q2, top 8 contest Q3.
2.) Cars leave garages at 20sec intervals. All cars are out on track in just over 7mins. (Old single-lap quali fell short for reasons which Suzuka 2005 reminds us. Getting all cars out in worst-case 7mins dramatically reduces this problem).
3.) Running order = fastest driver from the previous session runs last in the next session, turning FP3 into an unofficial “pre-quali” for Q1. (YES, this gives you a track advantage, but I see this as a fair advantage because it’s been EARNED).

This gives you all the PRO’s of the Q1, Q2, Q3 format, from both sporting and commercial perspectives, but also gives the driver the adrenaline and pressure to get that lap in. As Alonso said the other week, under this format, you lock a brake, you maybe start 15th. This is how you mix the grids up IMO.

There’s a KICKER too! If you progress to the next session, your time is deleted, so you have no time to your name, therefore, if you crash out in that next session, you’re starting at the back!

Who wouldn’t enjoy watching that?

As a little side-thought, I think saying the top 5 MUST start the race on the softest tyres of the weekend, the next 5 MUST start on the next softest, and the remainder of the grid have free choice, would do more to mix up the race then what we have now. But time will tell.


Does that mean that even if you are on a flying lap and faster than the field that you could be eliminated or does your final lap count to completion?


Surely this elimination format will will mean drivers doing their last run earlier. Even if you are one of the last 2 you wouldn’t have time to pit for fresh tyres.

I don’t think it is an improvement, I guess we’ll see.


I keep seeing this word “artificial” used when describing the new qualifying system.

Anyone actually smart enough to explain why?


I have been an avid F1 spectator for more than 40 years. I am always eager for the first race of the season and check multiple F1 sites daily, even during off-season.

Yet, I can’t help feeling less eager about this season than any other….and that’s after my favorite Driver just won the last two championships!

What are they doing to this sport?

When have they EVER had to TRY to make cars LOUDER?

Give your heads a shake….quit messing up the rules…..get back to basics…..CAR RACING!!!!!


That picture of the McLaren looks awesome! I’m guessing the colors are from the dye they use in testing for follow aero stuff, but the way the colors are, I wish that was their new livery. Looks exciting and bright, not like any other car, so could easily tell them apart.


I does look seriously wicked! That would be a great livery.

Gareth (the Philadelphia one)

An open hour of quali, quali spec engines turned up to 11, wisps of oil smoke as it screams across the line setting pole only to grenade on the cool down lap, jumpers for goalposts…


This sport continues to chase it’s own tail and shoot itself in the foot. Too many egos, too many cooks and too much money. No longer a racing series, but some corporate boardroom product, kind of sad what has become of it lately.


James, regarding the new rules:

Are the drivers allowed to finish their lap as the clock resets or are they taken direct into the pit if the time wasn’t fast enough at the moment of the reset?


Will times be reset after every elimination? If yes there will be some action. If not, nothing changes.


What a complete farce, there are going to be many unforeseen consequences of this ridiculous change to qualifying. The only amendment I would have made to the format would be that all cars in Q3 have to post a representative lap time. No saving tyres for the race and if a representative time was not set, then forfeit five grid places. If viewers don’t understand what is happening they will switch off, well done the FIA.


Like what? Or are they still unforeseen?

What stops Manor or Haas using the ultrasofts in Q1? That would shake things up a bit…

Can’t wait for the new season to start!


With any luck it will be to terrible the first time out they’ll just put it back to the old format in the second race.


Another aspect to this is that the teams PR people will have to coach the drivers on how to handle post qualifying incidents. No kicking, punching eye gouging or biting and be polite at all times. “The [Mod] ran me off the road” will be have to be toned down to something like “I felt he could have given me a little more space”. Remember chaps – you are all gentlemen racers!


There will be some form of mayhem and fireworks for the knock out quali.

Vettel and Hamilton clashing at some point will be exciting, no?


For this new quali to be better someone needs to tell the tv director not to focus on Hamilton and co. Setting fastest laps but to focus on the guys in the knock out zone.

5seconds a lap sounds good but unless the drivers are pushing 100% for most of the race and can pass each other the speed increase is kinda meaningless.


At least some spice. The qualifying becomes less predictable than the race. A sport has to be difficult to predict to be attractive. If you already know who will be on spot 1,2,3 you lose interest. The Mercedes drivers may make a small driving error on a decisive lap and an outsider takes the pole position. Then on race day it will be back to a boring Mercedes domination.


I sense there will be some form of mayhem in quali but I also predict 2016 will be a good year.

Cars sure looks faster in testing.


hate this new qualifying format so will simply no longer watch qualifying until its changed back!


I might actually be with you on that one. Who cares about Qualy anyway- the race is where everything is decided. Even more so if its going to be some kind of farce.

Just turn on 5 mins before the race, watch the race and that’s it.


NO, absolutely not excited about the ‘elimination’ style qualifying.

What an A1 example of the failures of this ‘sport’ – ‘Fix’ the one thing which was working well by making it complicated and compromising the sporting success of the competitors..



At first I thought “was qualifying broken? Does it need fixing? Are there more pressing issues that need attention?”

But I suppose it will stop the sham of half the grid sitting in the pits for most of Q1&2 and ruining the spectacle. It may just shift a similar issue to the end instead. Let’s hope the software is at least v1.1 or v2 before they adopt it :-/


I have no recollection of two F1 cars ever colliding during qualifying. Somehow I don’t think I have much longer to wait !


I think maldonado hit hamilton once in quali at spa

Top Tags