Ecclestone wants to continue with current qualifying format


Whilst the events of Sunday afternoon tended to cause many to forget the debacle that was qualifying in Melbourne, the controversial new format could yet be seen again in Bahrain... and beyond.

Whilst the teams, on the instructions of Bernie Ecclestone, met on Sunday morning and voted to return to the old format, it is understood that getting the change past the F1 Commission and World Motor Sport Council cannot be guaranteed, and with the (Bahrain) format needing to be agreed today (Thursday), time is running out.

Pirelli and Force India have both voiced their feelings that the new format wasn't given a chance, and now Bernie Ecclestone has admitted that he feels it might yet work.

Asked if he understood the format, the F1 supremo told Gazzetta dello Sport: "I was confused, but it was the first run and all the variables couldn't have been predicted, like how everything was decided in Q3.

"We can improve," he insisted.

Asked to confirm that the old (2015) format will be in place in Bahrain, which he will attend, he said: "The teams are discussing that and they want to go back. If I were to give an opinion, I would say we will continue with the format from Australia."

"I am a prudent man," he continued, "and new things must be tested. The new qualifying caused a bit of shock, but maybe we can salvage the good of the format."

Asked if he still wants to see successful teams penalised and start further back on the grid, he said: "No. I want to ensure the final result isn't taken for granted. I am an entrepreneur and I must sell F1 to the race organisers. If fans no longer watch than I have less money to give the teams. That is why I have to find the best solution and why having riders eliminated every 90 seconds could be exciting."

It's understood that the most likely scenario is that Q1 and Q2 will be run to the same format as Australia, though possibly extending the period before the knock-out phase begins, and having Q3 return to the old format.

However, such a move, certainly in the time provided, would not address many of the aspects that proved unpopular, not least the way the format was presented to the fans who were not given the information needed.

The uncertainty over one of the most important aspects of a Grand Prix weekend comes at a time the drivers, in an unprecedented move, have called on the sport's powers-that-be for an overhaul of the sport's "obsolete" and "ill-structured" rule-making process, fearing that F1 is currently heading in the wrong direction.

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Published: 24/03/2016
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