Formula 1’s hugely unpopular ‘elimination’ qualifying model will remain unchanged at next weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix – despite the debacle in Melbourne – after a vote to throw it out failed to gain the unanimous approval needed.
Following the new format shambolic debut at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne – where not a single car ran in the final minutes of either Q2 or Q3 – the teams met with FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting on the Sunday morning of the race and voted to revert to the 2015 format for the remainder of the season.
That vote was then taken to the F1 Commission – a ‘rubber stamping’ group that includes F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone and FIA President Jean Todt – where the proposal to revert to last year’s format was rejected.
Instead, Todt proposed two options:
- that that there the ‘elimination’ model remain for Q1 and Q2, with the 2015-spec format returning for Q3 only; or,
- to stay with the Melbourne format.
A return to 2015 qualifying was not even offered for consideration or a vote.
With the F1 Commission needing a unanimous vote to pass any rules changes, McLaren and Red Bull Racing held firm and insisted they would not accept anything other than a complete return to the 2015 qualifying format.
The impasse now means there is no further scope for qualifying to be changed for the next race in Bahrain, which means the field and fans are forced to stick to a format that almost almost universally hated.
The failure of the rule-makers to agree to a change in qualifying format comes just one day after the F1 drivers, via an open letter penned by the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA), demanded for reform in the sport’s ‘obsolete’ rules structure that was restricting any real change in the sport’s governance.
Despite supporting the drivers’ views, Ecclestone still sided with the FIA’s ultimately rejected proposal, having previously described the Australian Grand Prix qualifying show as “crap”.
It is expected that F1 chiefs will once again get together at or after the Bahrain Grand Prix to decide on a way forward for the rest of the season – it seems that any negotiation is already dead in the water as the teams will only accept going back to last year’s format.
Image via George Hitchens Photography