New Formula 1 qualifying format confirmed at Imola. An alternative tyre allocation will be tested in qualifying for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in May at the Imola circuit for the sixth round of the 2023 F1 World Championship.
This season, Formula One will experiment with a new qualifying format at two grand prix weekends, starting with the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola where teams will test the alternative tyre allocation.
The aim of the new format is to restrict the drivers’ choice of tyres during qualifying by requiring them to use Hard tyres in Q1, Medium tyres in Q2 and Soft tyres for the top ten in Q3, whereas they are currently free to choose the tyres they want throughout qualifying.
The so-called ‘alternative tyre allocation’, which will also be tested at another race weekend in addition to the one in Emilia-Romagna, will reduce the sets of tyres available to the teams from 13 to 11.
For this race weekend at Imola, Pirelli has chosen to provide the teams with a softer set of tyres than last season at the same circuit, with the C3, C4 and C5 being available throughout the weekend.
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Previous experiment gone wrong
For the 2016 season an elimination system was created for qualifying which knocked out a driver every 90 seconds. There were still 3 qualifying sessions but this proved confusing because a number of drivers were eliminated while on their first flying lap.
The problem was further exacerbated when in Q3 the teams decided to send their drivers out for their quick laps at the beginning of the session to avoid elimination. This meant the second part of Q3 saw an empty track with no action.
The TV graphics were entertaining though as they showed a driver being knocked out every 90 seconds, and as the camera cut to the relevant racer he was often out of the car chatting to the mechanics.
This format survived just the first two events of the season then everyone agreed to revert to the current format.
Whoa, that was close! 😮
A slow-moving formation lap at the first restart caught several drivers off guard #AusGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/zTvBhgk3u4
— Formula 1 (@F1) April 4, 2023
When the 2016 format changed, Martin Brundle commented saying: “if you asked me to name 10 things that I’d like to change in Formula One, qualifying wouldn’t have made it into the top 10.”
“We made a mistake and will go back for the next race,” Horner told Sky Sports.
“We are usually a pretty dysfunctional group but there was absolute unanimity…We’re tickling with the wrong areas. It’s like trying to introduce a second ball on the pitch in football.”
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Mixed reception for 2023 change
Most of the drivers interviewed had mixed feelings about the new qualifying format: “I hope it doesn’t get cold, otherwise it will be tricky,” said reigning world champion Max Verstappen of the new format.
“It will be the same for everyone, but I don’t think we need to do this kind of thing in qualifying. I don’t really see the advantage of it.”
“It’s better if we make sure all the cars are closer together and more competitive instead of spicing things up like that, which I think is probably for the show.”
“Yeah, I think it’s just for show,” said Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez.
“We don’t really need to change anything. But we’ll see, we’ll see once we’ve tried it, but I don’t think we need to change anything that’s working well.”
The race weekend at Imola will also see the introduction of the new Cinturato Blue Full Wet, the first Pirelli rain tyres that can be used without tyre warmers.
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Not yet formally confirmed.
Puts lower teams even further back. If they can’t qualify on soft tyre then no chance on hards
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