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Consensus is that qualifying still needs a tweak

NEWS STORY
31/03/2006

Speaking in Melbourne on Friday, the general consensus of opinion is that although the new knock-out qualifying format is better than what we have seen in recent years, there is still room for improvement.

"I think that after just two races where I think that it's shown to be extremely exciting it's a bit too soon to talk about changing it," said Honda's Nick Fry, "so I would leave as it is for the moment.

"I know that some people have suggested that the first part of the third section is a bit dull with just running down fuel," he continued, "but I think there's probably so much excitement in the second part that having ten minutes with maybe slightly less action before building up to a crescendo at the end is quite nice."

Yet Pat Symonds, an old hand in the paddock, and one of the best strategists, wasn't in agreement.

"I actually had the chance to watch the Malaysian qualifying when I went back to the UK after the race and I didn't find it terribly impressive," admitted the Englishman. "On the pit wall you really get very little impression, it's a very very busy period for us and you're not able to take an objective view of it. So it's quite nice to go home and watch it on television with a bit of commentary etc and I did find the first bit of Q3 rather dull: cars that were very obviously not being driven on the limit, and I don't think that it really serves much purpose.

"I was all in favour of the changes and trying new things, but equally, I think we've got to look at what we've done and just tweak it slightly. It's good but it can be improved."

"I think we need to stick with what we have in terms of refuelling," added Mercedes' Norbert Haug, "because otherwise… everybody keeps telling me why are we not running without fuel. But if you run without fuel, put it on pole and then you go for a one stop strategy, you will certainly not have an entertaining race, so I think it is vital the refuelling issue stays as it is.

"The problem that we currently have is that, here we get 2.9 kilos per lap and you tend to consume 2.2 or whatever because that helps you probably to go the lap longer in the race and I think to convey that to the public is quite a difficult issue. Having said that, if we take some time, I think changing tomorrow would not be the right thing. I'm very convinced that we're going to have great performances in Monaco and so on.

"Certainly at the first qualifying (Bahrain), everybody was very much in favour of it," he continued, "but I think that was due to the earlier accident. I was not pleased with the first qualifying at all, obviously, but that added a certainly thrill, obviously.

"I think we will see dramas, but as Pat pointed out, the start of Q3 is not really what you're expecting. Having said that, I think you can find at least two or three highlights over the course of the session which is quite good. It probably needs to be slightly modified but I'm afraid we need to stay with the refuelling or with the ban on refuelling, however you call it, and that can probably be achieved in a different way, but so far it is certainly - and this is the most important thing - a good step from what we saw last year."

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