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Keep it simple, Bernie

NEWS STORY
15/07/2005

In light of the recent (on-going) political battle, culminating in the shambles that was the United States Grande Prix, the change from one qualifying format to another was largely overlooked.

However, the truth is that the format used earlier in the year, whereby qualifying was held over two days, with the grid being decided on aggregate times, was one of the biggest blunders in the sport's recent history. Despite the warnings - all of which turned out to be true - the format was forced through, and fans, drivers, teams and broadcasters were forced to endure it until the powers that be finally saw the light.

The new format was the brainchild of F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, who, despite all the warnings pushed ahead, doing further damage to the sport's reputation, until he too finally admitted that it wasn't working.

In Japan 2004, both back-to-back sessions had to be run on Sunday, since there was no action on Saturday as a result of the threat of a Typhoon. Having seen the Sunday qualifying format work once, Bernie was convinced that he'd found the magic ingredient that F1 lacked. He was wrong.

For the last couple of years the powers that be have been continually messing about with the format, yet still they haven't got it right.

The 'old' format, whereby drivers went out whenever they wished, completing a maximum of 12 laps, was dropped, mainly because there was little action in the opening moments of the session as teams awaited optimum conditions. It wasn't perfect, but it was far, far, better than anything we've seen since.

The single-lap format is wholly unpopular with fans and drivers, indeed the recent survey carried out by the FIA revealed that a "massive" 70% of those that responded, "would prefer qualifying to be decided by the best time from a specified number of flying laps".

Now, the teams have come up with a couple of new formats, which they want the public to vote on. The fact that the survey is being carried out by Bernie's own website should give a pretty good indication of how he feels about the matter.

Both proposals are for 60 minutes sessions, but both are, quite frankly, ludicrous.

There is a very basic marketing rule, KISS - keep it simple, stupid.

Fans want a format that is uncomplicated and entertaining. The 'old' format - other than the opening 20-25 minutes of inaction - worked perfectly well, until the powers that be started messing about with them.

The single-lap format hasn't worked and neither will these.

Having copied the FIA's idea of consulting the fans, it's beyond belief that Bernie and pals don't appear to have read the results. In which case here they are again: 70% of those that responded, would prefer qualifying to be decided by the best time from a specified number of flying laps.

It's well known that surveys and polls can be worded in order that they give the result that you want, and Bernie's doesn't appear to be an exception. Fans are asked to vote on two ludicrous formats, stick with the present format or simply indicate that they have no preference.

There is no option for fans to choose the option referred to in the FIA's survey. Madness.

For God's sake… keep it simple, Bernie.

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