Formula One Cuckoos Concoct Cockamamie Qualifying Concept

Ah, Formula One. It used to be about racing, but now it is all about a bunch of rich white men trying to outdo each other in a game called “Mine’s bigger than yours.” Competitive racing? Who cares, as long as my team wins? Fast cars? Who needs ’em? Boisterously loud engines? Fuhgedaboutit! Today, the driver are prepubescent teenagers but the top people are grey beards who are suspicious of the internet. Fans are deserting the sport in droves. They are looking for racing where something actually happens on track to excite the passions and delight the senses.

Formula One will introduce new qualifying format in 2016

Formula One knows it has a problem. It is hemorrhaging fans but insists a band aid or two will stop the bleeding. People don’t talk about lap times, horsepower, or top speed any more. Instead, they talk about how to “spice up the show.” Various things have been tried. Kinetic energy recovery systems (KERS) add an electric motor to the powertrain to aid passing. Drag reduction systems were implemented, also to make passing easier. Neither has helped rekindle fan interest.

One thing Formula One did well was make qualifying interesting. After fiddling with the rules for a few years, it finally settled on a scheme that everyone was happy with. After the first qualifying session, the slowest cars were eliminated. After the second session, another group was eliminated. That left only the fastest 10 cars to compete for pole position.

So far, so good. But something happened to upset the apple cart. Each year, one or two teams was so clearly superior to the rest of the field that the result of qualifying was a foregone conclusion. Because the rules limit the number of tires each team can use on a race weekend, the fast teams would go out early, rip off a blindingly fast lap, then park the car sin the garage to conserve their tires for race day.

Enough, said the team bosses. Let’s spice up the show! Let’s not deal with why one or two teams are so dominant. Instead, let’s create an amazingly complex new system that will take an MIT graduate to understand. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Here’s how the new qualifying scheme will work:

Q1:

  • 16 minutes
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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

According to a report from F1 Technical, Pat Symonds, one of the leaders of the Williams’ F1 team, said that it would make qualifying more complicated for the teams. “It’s going to be quite tough. We certainly need to spend a lot more time thinking about it. I don’t think it’s going to improve qualifying itself, in fact I think there’s a danger qualifying might not be as exciting, it may not build up to that final crescendo.”

And this just in to the Gas 2 news desk. Saturday morning, Bernie Ecclestone announced that the new qualifying procedure would not be used at the first race in Melbourne, Australia in a few weeks because the system is so complicated, the software to implement it won’t be completed in time. If a computer can’t figure this stuff out, how on earth are the fans supposed to?

Once again, the top brass of Formula One have decided to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic rather than deal with the fact that their sport is dying. How is it possible that so many smart people can be so stunningly stupid? Tell us what you think about the new qualifying format in the comments section. I think I have made it quite clear how I feel about it.

Photo credit: F1 Technical

 

 

Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.