The FIA and Bernie Ecclestone are determined to change the F1 qualifying format in an attempt to improve the show. Let’s not forget that over the past seasons we have seen the front of the grid teams predominantly running one set of tyres in Q1 and Q2 to allow themselves greater freedom in the race. This clearly does not promote ‘cars on track as much as possible’ during the early qualifying sessions on a Saturday afternoon.
That said, as it appears nobody is happy with the new qualifying format, Jean Todt called a meeting with all parties concerned prior to the Bahrain GP to discuss alternatives. “I’m optimistic we will have an agreement tomorrow,” commented the FIA president on Saturday afternoon.
However, agreement there was not because the meeting did not have an open agenda where a majority decision would carry the best way to proceed. The FIA and Bernie Ecclestone proposed a new qualifying format where the two best lap times for each driver would be combined to make up an aggregate in each of the Q1, Q2 and Q3 sessions.
This was rejected by the teams and today they made public their position by revealing they have unanimously rejected anything other than an immediate return to the 2015 style of qualifying. The teams have though revealed they would accept trials later in the year on other qualifying formats which could be implemented for 2017.
Of course Ecclestone and Todt are suspicious over the teams’ offer to trial tweaks and even radical alternations to qualifying later in the year, because this of course would require unanimous agreement – which in Formula One is as frequent as Halley’s Comet.
The power at present clearly lies with Todt and Ecclestone because nothing can be done for this year unless unanimous agreement is reached under the current F1 governance system.
Since the implementation of the F1 strategy group, Bernie Ecclestone and others have complained about the position of the FIA requiring unanimity amongst all parties for any decision to be made – and calls for a more Max Mosley style of presidency have repeatedly been made by a number of the paddock hierarchy. Further, we have repeatedly been fed the mantra from Christian Horner and others that ‘the rules should be made by the FIA and the teams either sign up or don’t’.
This of course now looks like cheap rhetoric as the teams refuse to agree to the FIA and Ecclestone’s latest proposal. Further, TJ13 has been informed there has been talk amongst senior team personnel of a boycott of Q1 in China.
As this article is being published Kevin Eason of the Times is suggesting on twitter, “Todt/Ecclestone may give up the fight on this,” so maybe the knock out qualifying sessions in China will be consigned to the bin.
Then again, Bernie Ecclestone loves a good fight and will probably want some kind of pound of flesh for his consent.