Four-session qualifying back on the table for 2020

Plan for a switch to a four-session Formula 1 qualifying format in 2020 remain on the table after the idea was discussed in the Strategy Group meeting earlier this week.

Four-session qualifying back on the table for 2020

The four-session format, which originally emerged from research conducted by the F1 organisation, has been discussed extensively by both the Strategy Group and the Sporting Working Group – which frames sporting regulations – over the past six months.

The latest debate did not lead to a vote or a firm conclusion, but sources suggest that the idea is gathering momentum and is likely to be agreed in some form.

The new format would see four cars eliminated after Q1, Q2 and Q3, leaving eight to contest Q4.

The hope is that it would create a little extra uncertainty as the top drivers will have to complete three perfect sessions in order to get through to the deciding round.

The discussion focuses on how many tyres drivers will have to use to get through all the sessions, with Pirelli reluctant to have to provide any extra sets, and also crucially what tyre the Q4 qualifiers will be obliged to start on.

One possibility is that the top eight start on the tyres which they used in the final pole session, rather than in the penultimate session, which is the case at the moment.

In theory this would force them to qualify and start on the softest available tyre as they fight for pole, leaving everyone else with a free choice.

At the moment the top teams have such an advantage that they often use the harder and more favourable race tyre to get through Q2.

The hope is that by forcing the quick drivers to start on the more fragile 'qualifying' tyre, those starting behind would be better able to make a race of it.

However, one team principal told Motorsport.com that being on the right starting tyre is now so crucial that those battling for pole in the crucial last session may routinely end up doing so on the harder tyre anyway, in order to not to compromise their races.

Teams are understood to be running simulations of how they would run their qualifying sessions under such rules, and their feedback will be considered next time the idea is discussed.

The thinking behind the new format was explained by the late F1 race director Charlie Whiting last year.

"It's more something that's come from F1," he noted. "They've been doing a lot of research among fans, and they feel this is one of the things that the fans would like.

"Slightly shorter [sessions], slightly shorter time between them, four go out in Q1, four, four, leaving eight. I personally think it's quite a nice idea, but that's not my decision."

shares
comments
Sainz has further Renault engine components replaced

Previous article

Sainz has further Renault engine components replaced

Next article

Formula 1 may delay 2021 chassis rule sign-off

Formula 1 may delay 2021 chassis rule sign-off
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Author Adam Cooper
How long can Verstappen and Hamilton keep it clean? Prime

How long can Verstappen and Hamilton keep it clean?

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been evenly matched so far in the 2021 Formula 1 title race. Neither has been afraid to get aggressive against each other on track, teeing up an enthralling contest as the year unwinds. But how long will their battle remain clean? Jonathan Noble ponders that exact point

Formula 1
May 13, 2021
How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner Prime

How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner

The Brabham BT46B raced once, won once, then vanished – or did it? STUART CODLING reveals the story of the car which was never actually banned…

Formula 1
May 11, 2021
The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle Prime

The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle

Formula 1’s visits to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over recent years have been met with familiar criticisms despite tweaks here and there to the track to improve racing. With the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix largely going the same way, proper solutions need to be followed to achieve F1’s wider targets

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Prime

Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Often described as Formula 1's laboratory, the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona gave the clearest demonstration yet of the pecking order in 2021. And it's the key discrepancies from that order which illuminate who is excelling, and who needs to hit the reset button.

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain Prime

How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain

An aggressive first corner move from Max Verstappen appeared to have set the Red Bull driver on course for victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. But canny strategy from Mercedes - combined with the absence of Red Bull's number two from the lead group - allowed Lewis Hamilton to pull off a demoralising reversal

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace Prime

The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace

Lewis Hamilton led the way in Friday practice for the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix, but there was one major encouraging sign for Red Bull. However, making good on that gain will require Max Verstappen to avoid repeating a mistake that left him well down the FP2 order...

Formula 1
May 7, 2021
Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place Prime

Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place

Three points finishes from as many starts represents a decent opening innings on paper, but Daniel Ricciardo has endured a tough start to his McLaren career - only magnified his teammate's excellent form. Yet both he and the team have good reason to expect a turnaround soon.

Formula 1
May 6, 2021
What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors Prime

What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors

OPINION: Going up against the dominant force of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton was always going to demand the best from Red Bull and Max Verstappen. But after making a couple more errors during the Portuguese Grand Prix, the Dutch driver showed there's a small gap he still needs to close in the 2021 Formula 1 title fight.

Formula 1
May 5, 2021