Ross Brawn, Mercedes, Hungaroring, 2011

Teams cautious on qualifying changes

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In the round-up: Ross Brawn says qualifying is “a great show” despite drivers not setting times.


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Abu Dhabi GP – Conference 2 (FIA)

Ross Brawn: “As Martin [Whitmarsh] said, we should be careful not to fiddle with it because it?s actually quite a good show. I think that last run in Q3 for pole position or whatever it is is a great show. I think the fact that some teams choose not to run in Q3 is not really very significant.”

Romain Grosjean – “I?m like a kid at Christmas” (Renault)

“The medium tyres were quite difficult to drive with, the prototype softs were better in terms of degradation, but it is always difficult to know what to expect when you go from one tyre to another.”

HRT aims to run 2012 car in first test (Autosport)

“The HRT team says it is hoping to have its 2012 car ready for the first test of the pre-season next year.”

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Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa’s feud is unhealthy and unusual (The Guardian)

James Hunt and Mario Andretti nurtured a mutual dislike that came to a head when they crashed at Zandvoort in 1977, while Andretti was trying to take the lead from Hunt around the outside of a corner. ‘In Formula 1,’ the English public schoolboy announced afterwards, ‘we don’t overtake on the outside.’ ‘Where I come from,’ retorted the man who served his racing apprenticeship on American dirt tracks, ‘we overtake wherever the hell we can.'”

Petra Ecclestone’s ??12m wedding

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Kingfisher Airlines seeks govt help, more flights cancelled (The Times of India)

“The seriousness of the crisis was underlined by the urgent request Kingfisher owner Vijay Mallya made to finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and civil aviation minister Vayalar Ravi to help Kingfisher in infusion of funds through banks at low interest rates, besides other concessions in line with what Air India was getting, sources said.”

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Uan on Sebastian Vettel winning the Driver of the Weekend vote for the Indian Grand Prix:

Now he?s won the real Grand Chelem (pole, win, fastest lap, all laps led and Driver of the Weekend)

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  • 61 comments on “Teams cautious on qualifying changes”

    1. Ross Brawn: “As Martin [Whitmarsh] said, we should be careful not to fiddle with it because it’s actually quite a good show. I think that last run in Q3 for pole position or whatever it is is a great show. I think the fact that some teams choose not to run in Q3 is not really very significant.”

      The teams had the chance to address this and get rid of the top ten starting rule at the same time when Pirelli suggested qualifying tyres, and they said no.

      1. I don’t believe qualifying tyres are a good thing, it furthers the gap between qually and race pace, and it’s a waste of resources.

        And for what? The cars go a bit quicker? Meh….

        However, I agree with the qualifying rule part.

        1. I don’t believe qualifying tyres are a good thing, it furthers the gap between qually and race pace, and it’s a waste of resources.

          Qualifying is almost a sport in its own right. It’s all about getting the perfect lap time in over a single run when the car is in its prime condition – light on fuel, tyres at their optimum, unrestricted use of the DRS and a clear circuit. Compare that to racing, where there are twenty-four cars on track, and the driver has to manage fuel and tyres over extended runs. They’re already worlds apart.

          Though the one change I would recommend is a NASCAR/V8 Supercars-style format for the final ten, where the drivers go out one at a time. In Malaysia and India, we saw incredibly tight battles for pole, but the cameras only ever followed one car. For example, we followed Fernando Alonso on his final lap in Sepang, and he ended up fifth on the grid. We saw virtually nothing of Hamilton, Webber, Vettel and Button. But if we went one at a time, it would put maximum pressure on the drivers, and the audiences would get to see everyone instead of the last two corners because the cameras were too busy following the first driver out.

          1. It would also bring a lot of protests as it would invariably mean there are drivers that get better track conditions.

            1. Then you give them the right to choose their running order. The fastest driver in Q2 gets to pick when he goes out onto the circuit in Q3. Then the second-fastest driver chooses his running order, then the third, and the fourth, all the way down to the slowest driver of the top ten, who takes the only remaining qualifying slot.

            2. How much can the track conditions change with the top 10 being given one flying lap each? Plenty of rubber is laid down in in Q1/Q2 and FP3.

              If the order in which the cars goes out is dependant on times set in Q2, the fastest guys will go out last. That way, the pole position will change throughout the session as faster guys set quicker times. Instead of Vettel going out first and everyone failing to beat him.

              Having a wet or drying track will just mix up the top 10…which can only mean better racing in the race.

            3. Didn’t we have something like that already with that weird one-lap reversed WDC standing quali in, what was it, 2004,5? Not very great.

              Of course, unless an accident happens to put dirt or oil on the track, or unless it starts raining, the last to run will have most advantage: track most rubbered in, knows what target time to hit. So then getting fastest in S2 would be a provisional pole as long as you have the car to do it.

        2. And for what? The cars go a bit quicker? Meh….

          So that the quickest drivers/cars over 1 lap are at the front, and the slowest drivers/cars over 1 lap are at the back.

          At the moment the risk of flat spotting your tyres is always on the drivers minds, so we don’t see them really thrashing around the track – which personally, I think would be great (and improve the ‘show’ or whatever).

          And if only Q3 have qually tyres, the cost implications are relatively minor, probably about the same as Petra Ecclestone’s wedding over a season if not much less.

          1. So then not only do you get a better grid slot, but also the same, if not more, fresh tyres for the race. Not so great for those just outside Q3 then, and really rather unfair to them.

      2. There should be two sets of soft tyres (not specially designed for qualifying) to be used only in qualifying.

        1. I believe that’s what Pirelli are proposing – they bring one extra set of options and one less set of primes because, under the current alloactions, the teams run out of options and don’t use one set of primes, which need to be destroyed.

    2. The HRT team says it is hoping to have its 2012 car ready for the first test of the pre-season next year.

      Sorry but its ridiculous that an f1 team in its 3rd year is only ‘hoping’ to be ready for pre season testing. I can forgive them missing the 1st year, and it’s boarder line stupid they weren’t ready for the whole pre season this year. If they missing any of the next pre season testing they should just pack up and go home permanently, they are just wasting the time and money.

      1. I seem to recall Ferrari starting a season during the Schumacher era with the preivous years car. If they are producing a car within the regulations wheres the issue?

        How many years was the Lotus 72 run for?

        1. Things are very different to the 70’s. And I believe the Ferrari was a development of the previous years car- I think one of most dominating ones- rather than the exact same car.

          1. Thats fine. But to say Ferrari can do something and HRT can’t because Ferrari is faster is not right. We could impose these rules on HRT on what is the status quo, push up their costs and then they leave the sport. Then we are back here again complaining why there aren’t enough cars on the grid.

            You have to give HRT credit where credit is due. After their debut in Bahrain last year no one would have thought they would get this far, and now they are releasing press articles about their plans moving forwards, not plans merely for survival.

            A quote that Tony Fernandes said which has always stuck with me and applies to many aspects in life – “everyone has a beginning”

            1. Don’t think I ever said Ferrari can do something HRT can’t.

            2. Misread, apologies.

        2. Yeah, but just last year RBR didn´t run in the first test, and back in 2008 Toro Rosso started the year with the previous year car, that year Toro Rosso used the STR3 until Monaco…

      2. I think they really have the money and management to slowly make it

      3. well, they are backmakers. What do you expect from them?

        it’s good enough they are beating Virgin.

      4. Well @sparkus88, there is actually no obligation either to bring a new car or test it at all before the first race. Its just the teams want to build a car that is a big step from the previous model and then test it, to make sure its reliable and works as planned.

        I must admit i am a bit sceptical of HRT making it to the first test, as they said they would do at least the last week of testing before this season as well, only to have the car arrive on Thursday of that last test, build it up to show it Friday, but not have all suspension parts there, and end up not running it until FP2 in Australia!
        On the other hand, for HRT it would be an improvement if they did do even a day of testing before the season started, so I take this as an encouraging message.

        1. I appreciate there is no obligation for them to test, but how do they expect to progress and become established in f1 if they are unable to produce a car in time for testing.

    3. Sorry Ross, it will become significant when the fans decide to not come to the track at all because nobody attempts to qualify. Stupid remark from him and not trying in Q3 is starting to become acceptable to just not even try. F1 likes to throw penalties out and there should be one for any driver who makes no attempts in Q3 except when mechanical failure is obvious. If I race hard and break an engine and change it at this point in the season I am rewarded with a ten grid position penalty. To not even try to qualify is actually considered OK….It is wrong and the fans know it.

      1. And what do you suggest?

      2. Some fans have such short memories when it comes to qualifying. The current qualifying format is better than it’s ever been and extreme caution should be taken before making any changes. Back during the old hour long session(s) we saw loads of empty track time (literally no cars running). After several failed attempts to get a better formula we arrived at the current format which has considerably improved the viewing spectacle whilst at the same time maintained the element of sport and tactics which is crucial to avoid a contrived or unfair outcome (the only contrived/unsporting issue is the top ten tyre rule which doesn’t apply to others).

        To suggest that cars are forced to go out reduces the sporting aspect and let’s be honest isn’t going to make a huge improvement. The car’s which aren’t going out are the slowest cars in each session (Force India, Renault, Torro Rosso etc), the main race to get through Q2 and for pole position remains firmly in place and that’s what the majority of fans are interested in watching. For those who happen to support the individual teams in question surely what a supporter wants is to see them implement the best strategy for the race. There are no points for qualifying.

        Apart from the difficulties in implementing enforced qualifying laps what else does it achieve? It creates a disadvantage to the car 10th on the grid compared with the car in 11th which is unsporting because realistically those cars are racing each other come Sunday.

        it will become significant when the fans decide to not come to the track at all because nobody attempts to qualify

        I think Ross is intelligent enough to realise that what you suggest is complete fantasy and to call his comment stupid is rather ironic. Qualifying in its current format had a difficult gestation and we arrived at a pretty good place and I say stick with it.

        1. I have seen almost forty years of qualifying in as many possible ways to get he job done. Yes the current style of the three sessions is certainly the best way to do it. For the first time this season because of the Pirelli tires some teams don’t attempt Q3 having gotten into the top ten. Although there is no rule that says you have to run Q3 what we are starting to see is larger percentages of drivers who are saving their tires for the race and again I point to the Pirelli tires that everybody loves as the problem. I said it before just give the teams more tires and that will end this trend of not attempting to run for the pole, an important part of motorsport. Is there another form of upper level racing that is having drivers decide to not bother to qualify? Can’t think of any and I guess what it means is Pirelli isn’t capable of making tires that Formula One teams feel confident enough in and there by choose not to qualify on them and that is supposed to be OK?? When will this trickle down to the comsumer who questions whether his Pirellis on his 456 are safe or not???
          I suggest a five place grid penalty for each driver who fails to attempt a Q3 run baring mechanical failure and enforce it until the rules are changed and Pirelli is asked to supply adequet numbers of tires for every race weekend.

          1. I think rather than penalize the drivers, give them say, an extra pair of softs for the last session of qually, then take them away afterwards. Also, scrap the rules about what tyres you start on.

            Bobs your uncle.

      3. Honestly, I don’t mind. Sure, i’d like to see more cars out on track but I appreciate the sheer amount of variables in this sport make even the most bizarre of decisions plausible.

        You can’t penalise the drivers for obeying the current rules and not jeopardising their race.

    4. I think Hamilton will yield from the whole rivalry. I say this because Massa is Brazilian, and therefore that would make Hamilton the Prost in the rivalry.

      He wouldn’t want that.

      1. Haha! Brilliant :D

    5. So its ‘not very significant’ when paying customers – many of whom have travelled hundreds if not not thousands of miles – see only 70% of the on-track action they were expecting in Q3?

      Thanks Ross. I wonder if you’d say the same if you weren’t in charge of one of the teams that have employed that tactic this season.

      Competition happens right through the field, not just at the front. If the Toro Rossos get through to Q3 and are almost certain to fill row five on the grid, I still want to see which one of them can snatch 9th.

      1. Nothing will be done about it.

        Unfortunately those that are wanting to “improve the show” also want to win. Victory for these individuals will always come first, then improving the show.

        1. Which is exactly how it should be. It is a sport, not a show.

          1. Except the Top Ten rule is there precisely in the name of improving the show and is a) failing and b) making it less of a sport with these Q3 no-shows

      2. @bookoi I travelled hundreds of miles to Monza this year. Did I care? Not in the slightest.

    6. Let just five cars through into Q3. It’ll be easier to follow and for TV cameras to pick up the pole lap. But suddenly Ross Brawn won’t think it’s a great show any more…

      1. Haha, I was thinking the same thing, more or less. 6 cars go for pole but the Ferraris save their tyres, Brawn complains about losing Merc’s advantage for starting 7th and 8th.

    7. That Andretti quote is classic Mario X). I always loved his frankness because it was never rude or crass, just straight forward. I consider him of the same mold as Jackie Stewart and Rick Mears: all gentlemen and supremely talented drivers.

      1. I really liked that article.

        This part made me laugh:

        and Piquet was someone who went out of his way to upset people as part of a general approach to life.


      2. The whole article is interesting, and raises quite good points.

        When I think about it, I think that whoever of these 2 guys (Ham Mas) is the first to make up, apologize, or whatever, should get a lot of respect. Its not easy, but its the grownup thing to do.
        Like Button saying sorry to Hamilton in Canada.

    8. Found this pretty interesting, especially where Alonso says Hamilton is the only driver he’ll really watch in pre-season testing.

    9. I don’t agree with Brawn. Although I like it when teams come up with clever interpretations, I also think that FIA should intervene when it’s becoming rule / for granted instead of exception.

      Now I’m just annoyed when they choose not to fight it out on track, although it was clever and strange and therfore interesting at first.

      1. I think people would be a lot more receptive to it if it were a legitmate strategy. And by that, I mean driver would stay in their garages to preserve their tyres so that they could run further in the race and thereby make up a whole host of positions. But we haven’t seen that at all; right now, drivers stay in the pits because they know they cannot compete with the front-runners. They might get, at the most, two or three more laps of life out of their tyres, which doesn’t really change the state of play on the circuit.

        1. But that is why fans pay the big price of a race ticket, to see the race, all three parts of it.

    10. If Hispania think they can make it to the first pre-season test, then more power to them. At the very least, it shows a marked improvement over previous years.

      1. Indeed, but i remain sceptical, as they said they would be doing at least a week of testing with the new car this year as well, and we all know how that ended.

        But lets hope they continue in building up the team and make some improvements. Having KERS will be a step forward as well for them.

    11. Liked the story between James Hunt and Mario Andretti.

    12. I think the issue with Q3 is that most of the suggestions will still put the teams at the lower half of the top 10 at a disadvantage in terms of tyres.

      Only reason they want to not run in Q3 is because they have to use more sets of tyres in Q1/2 in order to make Q3. With new sets of tyres so important in modern F1 if you force them to run your basically forcing them into the race with only 1 new set of option tyres while many around them would have at least 2.

      Quali tyres is a popular suggestion, However we then risk only seeing 1 run in Q3 which would still harm the excitement of Q3. If you give them all 2 sets you will still see the teams at the lower half of top 10 at a disadvantage in Q3 having likely needed to use them to get into Q3.

      As stupid as it sounds, Many of the more popular ideas have drawbacks of there own.

      The best thing to do is what nobody seems to be looking at doing. Simply scrap the rule forcing them to start the race on there qualified tyres & then give them all 3 brand new sets of each compound on Sunday morning for use in the race.

      However they don’t want to do that because Pirelli don’t want the added expence of having to take more compounds to each race.

      Another school of thought is that its the race which matters so who really cares about qualifying. Teams don’t get any points or anything for qualifying & with the new tyres, kers & the dumb racing solution grid position is no longer as critical as it used to be.

      In all honesty, I don’t really see the issue, Its the battle for pole/front row which is the main attraction & thus what most are watching. There have been a couple times ive not even noticed teams didn’t run untill the commentators actually mentioned it.

      1. I love your version of the DRS acronym.

        One solution I haven’t seen anywhere that would involve bringing some more tyres but less than otherwise is that they give every car that makes Q3 one set of the softer tyre that they must give back at the end of Q3. Essentially it means Pirelli brings ten mores sets of tyres (not a huge amount) and it costs the teams nothing in tyres to run at least once in Q3. Can’t see why no one at Pirelli have suggested this, as I have been otherwise impressed with some of their ideas.

        This would naturally involve scrapping the tyres you qualify on rule (as they may have to give the tyres back), but that would only be an improvement as well.

    13. So, I’m wondering what’s going on with Force India. I was under the impression that they would be announcing their driver line-up in Abu Dhabi, but it hasn’t happened yet, and a few days ago, Vijay Mallya said that he was in no hurry to announce it. Maybe he’s just told his drivers what he intends to do, rather than publicly announce it.

      1. Or he might announce it after the race. F1 is still in Abu Dhabi for a couple more days

      2. I think Mallya might be occupied quite a bit with other matters right now.

        The airline trouble might also influence discussions with potential sponsors and thereby complicate matters for him.

    14. f1engima is reporting that Jarno Trulli’s time with Team Fernandes may be limited.

      1. Hm, so we might be back to where we were asking about the why their press release did not in fact state that he will be driving for the team, just that they will continue their cooperation @prisoner-monkeys!

        Might be Trulli will spearhead the Caterham brand driver challenges. Or do simulator work with them. It could open an interesting place for either Senna, Grosjean or even Sutil to go, or just about any of the leading GP2 drivers.

    15. The reason that the “bottom” 3 or 4 drivers don’t post times in Q3 is all about tyres. It has also been suggested that Qualifying tyres should be brought back and all ten Q3 drivers must attempt a lap. There are several problems with all solutions so far suggested.

      Under the cost cutting rules the Qualifying tyres, which would be ~1s/lap faster than super softs, are replacement tyres NOT extra tyres. So do your replace one set of each drivers allocation or just the top 10?

      A. Replace one set for each driver. What happens in Q1, especially when the tyre choices for the w/end includes softs as the option tyre?
      Of course Lotus, Virgin and HRT use the Quali’s. This will probably put them ahead of Sauber, Williams and Torro Rosso, and possibly ahead of Force India and Renault.
      So what are these teams going to do? Go out on the Quali’s, what else can they do. This will then probably make the top teams use options in Q1.
      End result will be top three teams and maybe Mercedes end up in Q3 with quali’s and the other 4 drivers will still not go out as it is an unfair fight, their quali’s are long gone.

      B. Only give Quali’s to top 10. This leads to questions.
      Who are the other 4 drivers?
      Do we now introduce longer delay between Q2 and Q3 so that a set of tyres can be withdrawn from them and re-fitted with quali’s?
      What if one of the top six doesn’t make it into Q3?
      Therefore are any Quali’s fitted to rims before Q3? Remember the tyres are glued to the rims and even if unused are destroyed during removal.
      Should the top 10 drivers be “penalised” by having less sets of tyres for the race?

      C. Leave it as it is and force the other 4 driver to post a time?
      One reason for them not posting a time is because they have used more options than the top six just to get there. Wouldn’t this penalise these lower 4 because they are being forced to use rubber they need for the race?

    16. I like the Abu Dabhi track – there, I said it! …and I’m a bit confused about all the hatred towards it

      Those weirdly angled corners and bit under the hotel in the last sector and the chicanes and U-turn in the first sector are pretty cool. The middle sector is anonymous, but we need some straights to connect the thing up after all.

      The reason it’s bad could be because of little elevation change, and little to see outside the track limits – but it’s a desert, what can you expect?!

      One frustrating race watching Alonso trying to pass Petrov doesn’t make for a bad circuit, the inaugural race was pretty exciting. It’s not nearly as boring as Valencia, the Hungaroring or Bahrain anyway!

      1. I’m a bit confused about all the hatred towards it

        I’d say that most of it stems from the way the developers were all but handed a blank cheque to build a circuit, and then seemingly put most effort into fancy buildings and waterfront sections. Yas Marina was literally built from the ground up – the island it sits on is completely man-made. More than any other circuit, Abu Dhabi had the potential to be the best of the new generation of circuits; Tilke could have done anything with it.

        1. Exactly, huge opportunity missed / ignored

    17. That’s a nice COTD, @uan ! :)

      That’s a great pair of quotes from Hunt and Andretti. Gotta say, I agree with Andretti on that one!

    18. wow, COTD. That feels like a grand chelem in itself! :)

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