Renault reacts to revised qualifying format


For this weekend's European Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, a new qualifying procedure will come into force. Gone is the second Sunday morning qualifying session, and gone are aggregate times – instead, a single one-hour session will be held on Saturday afternoon, run with fuel for the first stint of the race, over a single flying lap. The order will be the reverse of the finishing order of the previous race, with the winner running last.

As ever, a change to the weekend timetable will provoke comment and reaction – so what do the drivers and engineers make of it?

Giancarlo Fisichella: From a competitive point of view, I think we may be penalised slightly with this system. The other system favoured the teams that had a strong car and were able to show its performance in both sessions – we have a good car with the R25, so the two-part format definitely helped us in the opening races. Overall though, I do not have any problems with the change – it is very similar to how we did qualifying last year, so it is not a step into the unknown for anybody.

Fernando Alonso: I think there are pros and cons to the new system. It is good to know the qualifying positions from Saturday onwards, so that is definitely an improvement, but on the other hand, we have to rely on the previous race position for our starting slot – which means you will be punished for a bad result with an early qualifying position at the next race. Having said that, it just means you need to be consistent in your race performances – which is what we aim for anyway. The main point is that the system is the same for everybody, so as long as it is fair, I am happy.

Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: I think this single session is a sensible compromise for the rest of the season. Certainly, the public was confused with the aggregate system, and knowing the qualifying result is much better for the media too - the Sunday papers, and television broadcasts, will be able to give fans a meaningful judgement of what is going to happen in the race that afternoon.

In terms of race strategy, the change in format will not mean strategies alter radically – just because we are effectively going back to last year's qualifying format does not mean we will suddenly be using strategies similar to those from 2004. The behaviour of the single-race tyres has been the main factor in how race strategies have evolved for this season, and I don't anticipate significant change from what we have seen in the opening races.

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Published: 24/05/2005
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