Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2016

Hamilton takes pole as F1 draws fire over new qualifying

2016 Australian Grand Prix qualifying

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Lewis Hamilton will start the first race of the season from pole position but more attention was focused on the shortcomings of F1’s new qualifying system.

The session, which was run for the first time under F1’s new ‘elimination’ rules, came to an anti-climactic end with no cars on track during the final five minutes of running.


The session was much busier to begin with as the 22 drivers had just seven minutes to set a flying lap. This initial burst of action saw the leading runners claim their place in the next phase of qualifying, leaving it down to the slower drivers to scrap for the final places.

However the tight timings meant many of them simply ran out of time. The two Manor drivers occupied the bottom of the times and clearly wouldn’t be able to get a lap in before the next elimination cut-off so they stayed in the pits. The Haas duo took to the track but ran out of time to improve.

Red Bull weren’t able to get Daniil Kvyat turned around in time either after his first effort came up short. The Sauber due were able to run again – but neither were quick enough to make the cut.

Jolyon Palmer was one of few drivers who was initially at risk of being knocked out but managed to improve his time. Ahead of him Fernando Alonso moved up to an encouraging third for McLaren.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16Marcus EricssonSauber-Ferrari1’27.435
17Felipe NasrSauber-Ferrari1’27.958
18Daniil KvyatRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’28.006
19Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’28.322
20Esteban GutierrezHaas-Ferrari1’29.606
21Rio HaryantoManor-Mercedes1’29.627
22Pascal WehrleinManor-Mercedes1’29.642


The drawbacks of the new system became clearer during the second part of qualifying. Again the session began with a rush of activity which saw the front runners quickly set their best times then head for the pits. But it was the lack of action in the final minutes which raised concern.

With two minutes still remaining on the clock the identity of the final three drivers to be eliminated was confirmed as Valtteri Bottas failed to improve his lap time in the Williams. With Nico Hulkenberg having just tenth and his Force India team mate Sergio Perez staying in the pits, there was no further action of any consequence.

The Renault and McLaren drivers had already been eliminated, Palmer having pipped his more experienced team mate by a tenth of a second.

After the session ended Williams were notified the stewards were investigating why they had not supplied full details of the suspension setting Bottas has used – an error which could end up costing the driver.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

9Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’25.753
10Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’25.865
11Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1’25.961
12Fernando AlonsoMcLaren-Honda1’26.125
13Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Honda1’26.304
14Jolyon PalmerRenault1’27.601
15Kevin MagnussenRenault1’27.742


Hamilton began celebrating his fifth Australian Grand Prix pole position long before the chequered flag fell at the end of Q3.

He and team mate Nico Rosberg both had sufficient time to set two laps. Hamilton was already ahead after his first run but the second was superbly committed and left him just three-tenths of a second shy of the circuit record set by Sebastian Vettel in 2011.

However with every other driver remaining in the pits after their first runs, and an empty track for the final five minutes of the session, the qualifying of Hamilton’s pole position lap was largely overshadowed by the shortcomings of the new qualifying system. Within seconds of the chequered flag falling top F1 figures had given damning verdicts on the change to the media.

Rosberg’s second lap pulled him in front of the two Ferrari drivers, both of which did not bother with final runs. Max Verstappen claimed a strong fifth as the Toro Rosso pair out-qualified both Red Bulls.

Top eight in Q3

1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’23.837
2Nico RosbergMercedes1’24.197
3Sebastian VettelFerrari1’24.675
4Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’25.033
5Max VerstappenToro Rosso-Ferrari1’25.434
6Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1’25.458
7Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso-Ferrari1’25.582
8Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’25.589

2016 Australian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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143 comments on “Hamilton takes pole as F1 draws fire over new qualifying”

  1. To be fair: we knew the top 4 for today’s grid three months ago. At this point they may as well have a checkered flag with an image of senna and RISE written on it.

    Anyway, I hope Keith will make a poll about the new qualifying system. Meanwhile, I’m holding a little poll myself: http://strawpoll.me/7120983/r

    1. To be fair, qualifying is to determine an order of starting based on who is fastest…now, not yesterday, or last week, or last month. Unfortunately there were no cars on the track during the last 5 minutes. To emphasize the foolishness of it all the flag was waved at the end but nobody showed up. They were in the garages saving their tires.

    2. We don’t really need a poll though,do we @aeschli, there isn’t much doubt.

      1. Yeah there is – I like it apart from Q3..

    3. @paeschli Yeah I had one planned but owing to the strength of reaction so far I’ve completely rewritten it. Here it is:

      Which qualifying system should F1 use?

      1. Great! Let’s hope they’ll listen to the fans for once.

      2. Exactly

      3. Please Keith,
        This new format might work it they ban refuelling during entire qualifying, we might watch 3 laps fuel Manor vs 15 laps fuel Mercedes for Q1 and its still fair because all their own choices.
        *Offcourse refuel might still taken but grid penalty awaits

  2. You have to say, you sort of see what the intention was, Q1 and Q2 sort of worked (the teams just had trouble figuring it out), but Q3 is ridiculous. Maybe if Q1 and Q2 allow pitlane refueling it can work (that makes it possible for drivers to continue) or there is a harder compound chosen for quali (so drivers can do stints, not single laps) Q1 and Q2 might work. But Q3 is unsalvageable. Should be changed asap.

    1. I think this new qualifying could work if there wouldn’t be any tire limitations. We can’t forget that often in the old qualifying teams wouldn’t go out again just to save tires.

      Or if pirelli would give teams good tires just for qualifying (tires that last). That way cars can stay on track and both this new qualifying and the old one would be better.

      1. The idea was that you could focus on the drivers in trouble but as they’d usually in the pits whilst being eliminated, the whole session just fails to gain momentum…

    2. From the point of view of a sporting event that has fans who want to see sport happening, instead of qualifying being exciting-to-the-last-minute like in past years, qualifying this year is a bore because in the last minutes of qualifying there were NO cars on the track.

      If there was no advantage to be gained, guess where they were: in the garage saving the equipment or their tires, since they had to start the race on those same tires. I guess that outcome was too hard for the people in charge of running this show to figure out.

      Is that any way to run an event that’s supposed to be watched by millions of people around the world? F1 is going to continue to lose fans if the old guys running this show don’t get replaced by people who know what they are doing. Unfortunately, I don’t think they care.

  3. I remember how in 2003, Ferrari took pole position in the first race around Melbourne by a bigger margin than Mercedes did today. Ferrari had absolutely walked the previous season (with a higher win/race ratio) and everyone was downbeat and fully expected another season of Ferrari domination. Then Coulthard won the first race from 11th, Schumacher finished only 4th, and the rest is history.

    Just trying to brighten the mood here. With that being said, I will eat my shoe if tomorrow is anything other than a Hamilton victory.

    1. thank you for the effort @kingshark, we need a bit of cheering up right now.

    2. And who won that season? Schumacher.

      1. It kinda went down to the last race at least…

      2. @paeschli
        But 2003 had more excitement than 2013 till 2015 put together.

        1. @kingshark

          The first half of 2013 was actually very good.

          The so-called Vettel domination was a lot more interesting than what we have been served since 2014.

      3. only because they got the Michelin tyre that had been fine all year banned for Monza. Otherwise i suspect it would of been Montoya or Kimi.

    3. “I will eat my shoe if tomorrow is anything other than a Hamilton victory.”

      Will hold you to that :P better sharpen those teeth.

    4. Cook it slowly.

  4. Everyone just everyone know it wouldn’t work and they still pushed it thru instead of fixing real F1 problems like mandatory tire use of two compounds in race,too much aero dependence,tires that fall apart after following another car for few laps,silly engine rules that prevent real catching up.Who is running this for real?

  5. Why would anyone bother to watch qualifying with these procedures? It’s beyond belief that any sport would arrange things so that it will be to the best teams’ advantage to keep their cars in the garage to save the tires instead of being out on the track during the last 5 minutes of qualifying.

    What?….was quali too exciting last year? Well I guess they fixed that.

  6. Also, the fight behind the top three will be epic tomorrow. Kimi vs Toro Rosso vs Ricciardo vs Williams vs Force India…

  7. That was terrible. It looks like no one tested or even though of possible scenarios that the new system might have. Pity that fans that bought the ticket were guinea pigs for this cr*p.

  8. Shocking is all I’m gonna say about the format. I know it’s only the first weekend and we haven’t had the race but Mercedes are so impressive to keep their level of performance. As for Hamilton, people can talk what they want about his life outside the car but he gets the job done. Toro Rosso very impressive also.

  9. The hopeless formula1.com and app haven’t progressed at all.

    All the wailing about what’s wrong with the show – a lot of it is simply FOM.

    1. Does anyone use the extra cornering analysis etc gimmicks in the app? I’d be happy with a working timing screen + tire usage.

      Today the app didn’t show the best sector times for cars in pits but only useless times from their in-lap..

  10. This qualifying system is garbage In my opinion. If you are going to do a knockout system, it should be done on a lap by lap basis. Bring back what we had.

  11. If there is something like a textbook example of the way Formula 1 is run, this new qualifying system has to be it. The Strategy Group (probably FOM) came up with a new qualifying system to fix something that many considered wasn’t broken. The engineers knew it wouldn’t work, the drivers told the FIA that the engineers knew it wouldn’t work, but nothing was done with that information.

    I really hope FIA/FOM will analyse this case and identify exactly what went wrong: changing the rules on too short notice, not getting feedback from the teams, making sure the notes from meetings end up with the right people… this was just embarrassing, I’m pretty sure even FOM will feel a little bit ashamed of that.

    Anyway, I think the big winners of qualifying are Force India, who have a decent starting position and an extra set of tyres. Curious to see how that will unfold tomorrow.

    1. well, they did probably solve people saying that qualifying had become the more exciting part of the F1 weekend @andae23

    2. @andae23 – Unfortunately this is the same destination that the new still as of now undecided regs are headed for. Disaster. New major regs should be decided on years in advance. There is now less than a year and the clock is ticking. And, evidently the rules will be decided by the same folks that brought this qualy farce.

      1. @bullmello Yeah that’s pretty worrying :(

      2. I say don’t do the changes til 18′. The longer the formula stays the same, the closer the times become. If they would eliminate the tokens now and keep the current car layout, things would get better. Even if nobody knocks off Mercedes, we would have at least 4-5 teams really tight for the next few spots. Every time there are big rules changes, someone gets the jump on the field and things spread out again. The “Formula” should be such that the cars and engines are close enough so the best team and best drivers duke it out. Having an engine that is so complex that several top car manufacturers can’t get it right in 2 plus years is just ridiculous. If I were an engine manufacturer and was told that I am locked in to my 1st attempt at this engine with no testing and no chance to catch up, I think I would find a better series to promote my brand. One that wants us to test and improve.
        In the old days, if a team or engine built a dud, at least they had a chance to fix it. Look at Mclaren, Ferrari, and RBR in the previous decade. Only 1 team has a legit shot to win with these silly rules. It’s just sad for the fans and everyone that is not driving a W-07.

  12. Damp squib.

    1. Alex McFarlane
      19th March 2016, 11:16

      You read my mind. Those were the exact two words that entered my mind midway through all of the sessions.

      It seemed promising to begin with, but the shocking lack of foresight from the rule-makers didn’t take long to surface. Truly boggles the mind.

  13. All that really changed in q3 was when the lap times were set actually. So the previous qualification masked the rubbish tires and lack of them really well – Williams and RB were sitting in the pits for first 5 minutes and then set a lap when this year the sitting in the pits was last five minutes :P

    1. And with that i can pretty well understand (but not agree) why change the qualification. The reverse grid would be extremely fascinating to see in race, though it would also be extremely unfair.

      1. What would you reverse the grid based on? Last race? Then that does away with qualifying. Qualifying time? Then everyone will try to be 10th. And what happens at tracks like Monaco or Hungary where someone could pull a Trulli and bunch the field up while one or two drivers disappear into the distance.

  14. Apex Assassin
    19th March 2016, 7:53

    Agree 100% with Lauda, Horner, Brundle, Crofty, Hobbs, Matchett and everyone who isn’t employed by F1 or silenced by a gag order.

    LAME. Parked cars, less cars on track at the end, unfinished laps, teams choosing to not bother to run because they can’t add fuel and tyres fast enough… No way this is better than previous system. BORING! FAIL! ANTICLIMATIC!

    So awful no one even mentioned Lewis breaking the track record for ages. Look here, I’m sure there will be tons of people not even mentioning Toro besting RBR or how McLaren have improved because the format was so bad that it completely overshadowed the spectacle. Hated it. The dismal support shown by comments and polls everywhere aren’t surprising at all. Another failed solution to a problem that didn’t exist. Pirelli era F1 in a nutshell.

    And seriously how could this ever work at Spa where it’s 4 mins to get an outlap and hot lap done?

    1. +1,
      I was looking for an honest opinion and this is exactly how I feel about it.

    2. In the wet at Spa the last car out the pits at the start of q1 will not get a lap in before being timed out.

      This was the biggest mess since US 2005 race, it was so obvious to everyone but they still did it. They need to go back to the normal format for the rest of the season and if they really have to run a new solution in next winters tests to check it 1st.

    3. That lap record is the fastest lap in history of the race itself. Qualifying doesn’t count because other years have also set a faster quali time

      1. In 2004 when the lap record was set the pole time was slower than the fastest race lap. Fastest quali lap here was 23.5 in 2011 so only 0.3 off and next year the aim is to be whole seconds faster. 3 years of stable regs and look how much faster they are. With no rule changes the grid will get closer money will be saved and they will get ever faster so what they are doing is changing it all next year.

    4. Spa may be one of the only tracks where this could work. Put enough fuel on board, next to softest tires and have the driver do laps until they are eliminated or time runs out. If the drivers don’t pit during the session, elimination qualifying may work.

      1. @velocityboy Agreed, the only way elimination qualifying could work is to run the cars constantly for the entire hour – no 3 segments of qualifying. Just knock a car out every 5 minutes…

  15. Draws fire? More like implodes. Quite hilarious searching most recent google news for “F1 qualifying” almost worth having qualifying itself being that bad. Almost…

  16. Watching people who have paid a lot of money to be there leaving the track 5 mins before the end of qualifying was the worst part of this new system. FOM owe us all a refund for the anti climax that was q3.

    1. @crackers Totally agree with you!

  17. Solid run by Marcus Ericsson continuing his form from where he left off last season. Nasr really need to step up his game if he wants to play ball.

    1. Apex Assassin
      19th March 2016, 10:58

      Lol, you think Nasr is in that seat based on talent?

  18. The new format was a disaster, but I think that Mercedes and Ferrari wanted to ridicule it in Q3. Ferrari only set one lap even if in theory they had the tyres to do another run. Vettel changed clothes to mock the new format even more. Mercedes got out really early for their second run even if there was no need. Maybe Rosberg wanted to be a bit safer, but Hamilton had no reasons to go out so early.

    1. Well, Mercedes did need a second run with Rosberg, so, like previous years, they’d go out early to have enough time to change something if they needed to @yobo01 – in fact I’d say that for Mercedes not much changed at all, and for Ferrari not too much – they have sat out a 2nd run in Q3 before when they knew they weren’t fast enough for pole.

      But given that real hope for the change was to upset Mercedes, I’d say Bernie will be back with a ‘told them so, now we have to try reverse grid’ or some such.

    2. @yobo01 Acutally Ferrari doesn’t have enough tires. Kimi running twice in Q1 and he and Vettel running twice in Q2. Both Mercs only running once in Q1 and Q2. The only one have enough tires is Mercs and probably Vettel but it’s not worth it when he already have 3rd position locked in (assuming Rosberg passed him in his second run, which he did) and sacrificing another set of tires means a miniscule chance to even only to improve to 2nd.

  19. I was just thinking to myself while watching this whether it would be interesting to do the elimination Q in the opposite way. Instead of being eliminated, you are safe for the next session when you’re in P1 of that currect session, and then keep Q3 like it was before, just a 10 min sessions of going at it.

    This means all drivers will want to be in P1 of Q1 because that immediatly gives them a spot in Q2, so everyone will be out going as fast as they can because in that way they could jump over faster cars that made a mistake.

    1. Not sure I follow. Both in today’s format and last seasons format the guy in p1 always goes through to the next session.

      1. So instead of eliminating the driver in last place out of that current Q session you would do the same but with the driver in P1. He gets ‘eliminated’ from that session but instead of him being out like the last driver now is, he moves to Q2.

        1. That would just give a dominant team a bigger advantage (particularly with tyres) as P1 would never need to do a second run, even if track conditions changed dramatically.

  20. Ok, I’m going to try and be objective with my response to qualy.

    Q3 and Q2 can work better with some tweaks. I’m not sure how you can tweak it, if the tyres are only going to hang on for 2 laps, but if they can make the cars run a bit longer then, it will actually be kinda cool to see cars racing to beat times. Sauber and Haas probably should have planned their final runs a little better, although given that Haas were the new boys, I can forgive them for being only 30secs away from the start/finish straight, however, what was Sauber thinking? Sending out a car with 90secs to go, and it takes 90 odd secs to get around, let alone another 86/7 seconds to complete a flyer, umm… Sauber showing off some collective genius.

    Q1 is the main issue I have, we’ve always had problems with teams that were lucky to get into the top 10 in the past, stay in the pits as they considered it as high as they would get, however, today was just ridiculous, everyone just set 1 lap and couldn’t turn the cars around in time for another attempt, while Ferrari and Torro Rosso understanding that they couldn’t possibly do any better then their positions just parking it, while Nico and Ham having 1 roll of the dice but parking with 4 mins to go. I think Q1 failed in the new format because track evolution use to be the fear, and to beat track evolution, you had to be on track at the end, now, the clock is the thing to fear. If Q1 was longer, maybe we would have witnessed something different, however, I don’t think a longer time would fix it either, as Ferrari wanted to save a set of tyres, so they wouldn’t have ran again, even if there was more time.

    So perhaps drop the crazyiness in Q1, but tweak the rules for Q2/Q3 and improve the show, however, it cannot stand as it is for Bahrain.

    1. I think I agree with this. The real issue is the attitude of the teams / the need for new tyres for each new run etc. which necessitates going back to the pits. This means that in reality you lose 4-5 drivers at once rather than one because they all do one run, go back to the pits, then run again.

      The graphics were appalling as well which really didn’t help anyone understand what was going on.

    2. @dragoll I think you got your “Q’s” mixed up ;-) Q3 is the last part and Q1 is the first part of qualifying

      1. @gdewilde I must have been confused by the format ;)

    3. ColdFly F1 (@)
      19th March 2016, 10:24

      @dragoll, I’m the eternal optimist, but it was difficult to see the positives of this Qualifarcical show.

      It was nice to see when the 90second count-down clock finally work.
      And SAI and RIC were 2 cars (the only) who had to/tried/did beat the count-down timer. Some excitement for 2 minutes!

    4. @dragoll I think Sauber missed out the part that you eliminated immediately and think the driver can complete their current fast lap. That’s the only reasonable error that people can make, IMO. Still, it shows how incompetent team they’ve become.

  21. Coverage includes adult men complaining about how bad the sport is: it won’t get anyone interested in the sport AND it was one of the worst days for anyone who’s already interested in it.

    Meanwhile, MotoGP is on today, just saying

    1. @paeschli And the 12H of Sebring and Mugello, in case you’re also interested in racing.

      1. nice tip! so much racing i sometimes loose track of it all.

  22. Wow just three tenths of lap record with little run in practice too, can’t wait for 2017, since they’ll be “five seconds” faster and congrats to Hamilton, he at least gets the job done even after his “lifestyle”

    1. They wont be 5sec faster as long as they got wheelbarrow tyres.

  23. I think keep the new system in Q1 only. It solved the problem of drivers just staying in garages in Q1 for a long time.
    Everyone went out early today to set a lap before the clock starts.
    But ditch it in Q2 and Q3.

    1. If they tweek it in Q1 and Q2 so that you can finish your lap if the timer has run to zero then we might get a few more cars make an effort rather than stay in the pits. That last little bit of quali is always exciting to see who makes it after the clock has run to zero. You would get 4 of those in each Q1 and Q2. I like the fact that we put the drivers under more pressure to see what they can do under pressure.
      If this quali was in Spa today it would have been more of a disaster. If it takes more than 90secs just todo an out lap then this current system will only see more of the same.

  24. Disappointed
    19th March 2016, 8:10

    The way i see it, it is way too extreme to make things interesting. If they want to keep something like this they have to bring it down a lot, like removing only the last 3 drivers and start the countdown 5 mins before the end of the session. This way most of the drivers will keep the doors open to improve in the last mins. Otherwise the whole season is gonna be quite dull in terms of qualifying spectacle unless it rains and the grid gets so shuffled that the whole point of qualifying becomes moot.

  25. Why would they not simulate this first at a test day. User testing of a new feature is standard territory for the tech industry

    1. Yeh im sure all the teams would give it their all in an testsimulation.

      1. All the teams were against this idea so would be the perfect opportunity to prove they were right

        1. Plus you could have proved this didn’t work with 2CVs

  26. Effectively now there is now a similar point like previously there was in start of Q3, if you feel that you can’t improve much from your current position it’s not worth the extra run/set when the threat from behind has been eliminated.

  27. The flag waiver is making fool of himself by waving flag when there are no cars for last 3 minutes. What a disaster. What a bizarre system is this

  28. We need a system that forces more cars to be on track more of the time and at different times so there’s always action going on, maybe about 80% of the session.

    1. The old format had a good spread of cars on track over each part. This had too many in q1 and no one new what happened until it finished. Leave it as it was.

      1. Q3 never really worked for me. Often cars never ran or only did one lap to save tyres. You also never got to see a whole lap as everyone was on their hot one at the same time. On TV this doesn’t really work very well, fine at the track

    2. You can’t “force” more cars to be on track at the same time or to run more laps, with these tyres any team who did so would seriously harm there chances in the race on Sunday. Especially those who have to start on their Q2 tyres, otherwise you will get teams who want to get knocked out in Q2 rather than make it in to Q3.

      1. Yes you can. Entice if you want a different word, you change the tyre rules so you are not penalised. It’s called changing the regulations. You make it worth being out on the track. Have I spelt it out enough yet?

  29. On the positive side, Verstappen and Sainz are stepping it up like they have been doing this for the last 15 years. I’d hate to see them in a faster car, cause then we won’t have the opportunity to see those amazing overtakes.

  30. All working according to Bernie’s plan. Make the sport unwatchable, shed fans faster than Pirrelli shed grip, then buy out CVC for a song and reset the rulebook to divide and conquer the car manufacturers. The Return of the One True Sovereign Ringmaster.

    It’s only unfortunate that the political machinations are the best part of the F1 show.

  31. Absolute rubbish!!! What Bernie thought would give a crescendo was not thought through on an actual timeline for a 1:20-1:30 second lap time by any means.

    The majority of the teams also in Q3 and Q2 didn’t seem to understand the flag fall rules and thus removed much of the drama that could of been.

    Fix this immediately because on longer lap times (as Martin Brundle etc said) like Spa and Singapore their will be no drama and might as well be set one hot lap per person and wait 12 minutes overall for each position to be ‘eliminated’

  32. Iwishthiswaswittier
    19th March 2016, 8:33

    So it is obvious that quali isn’t changing because of us (the fans) but because promoters desperately need to find more revenue at non state supported circuits. We will all complain when the likes of Monza, Silverstone etc disappear from the calendar replaced by the next sultans sovereign wealth funded track. So they want to sell more tickets or get more people in the circuit and spending money on the Saturday too. If anyone thinks that any form of quali format is going to replace the excitement of a race then they are mental…but they can be forgiven for trying.

    I am one of the few that seemingly likes to look forward and I don’t mind quali being different. It just didn’t work as a hybrid of old quali and new quali.Just like when they scrapped the hour of running into three quali stages…they can’t just inherit the three stages into a new model and expect it to work.

    I think they could easily combine a Q1/2 into one larger session…removes the clock anxiety generated by the short session times and create some opportunities at the back and the midfield to exploit and mix things up a bit.

    Top 8 go through and then keep Q3 as a pure speed shootout session (with free tyres) to get back to the purity of a true couple of quali laps from the top cars.

  33. The making decision process is absolutely at the ground level in F1. It is not professional to introduce something with saying “Lets see what happened”. If the change is planning, there should be a reason behind it. If there is a reason, you need to come up with ideas and proposals for the change that are suitable for the sport, not for the “show”. I do not want to watch wrestling instead of F1. Then all ideas should be discussed and stressed with possible consequences, meaning simulation together with expert judgement. What happened today was very predictable. Actually even more is coming – new regulations for 2017. What does it mean “5 sec faster”. We have Austria ring, we have Singapore and Belgium. How we can talk in absolute numbers, everything should be relative. It looks like we see kids that are trying to make the decisions.

  34. We have to thank HAM/Merc anyway to not add even more to the insult. By the time ROS finished his best lap Ham could have pulled out into pits and not finish his best (since he was going to be pole anyway).

    Would have been an extra minute of nothingness and not even a time to talk about.

  35. This is a very sad day for F1. Exactly when we should be talking about Lewis’s historic 50th pole position and smashing Shumachers pole record time to smitterings, instead we’re talking about the format it occurred under. Sad day for F1 indeed.

    1. 50th? If you are right, then yes, that should have been mentioned.
      Unfortunately I didn’t see the whole of the qualifying session, so I don’t know how well it worked.

      1. My apologies, I accidentally inferred that I might have seen part of the video of the qualifying session at Melbourne. In fact I didn’t see any of it, so I was wrong in my inference.

    2. No smithereens to see here…
      M. Schumacher: 68 poles, 91 wins, 155 podiums.
      L. Hamilton: 50 poles, 43 wins, 87 podiums.

      1. He’s talking Michael’s laptime in 2004 @ferrox-glideh

  36. I am at work, only followed Autosport Live thingy.. New format was supper exciting there in Q3.. Will comment more after i watch replay.

    But results… I predicted 1.24.600 due to green track etc… And turns out I was greatly wrong. Mercedes gained second and a half in one year!!!!!!!!!! I mean how poor were they last year, to have missed all this pace?

    Now we need someone with GPS data to calculate, that they actually have 1000bhp in quali..

    And then in the race I imagine the usual. Merc 1 2, Ferrari 3 4…. Nico and Lewizardofspeed have so much pace in hand. They can only hurt themselves from here.

  37. Well that was terrible… I don’t think I’d ever seen a team celebrating pole position with 3min to go…

  38. Come back the 2015’s qualifying system + more tyres that teams can use during the weekends and especially during qualifying. As a result cars will stay less in the garage.

    1. And 1’23.837 is awesome. I don’t think we need much faster cars in 1 lap but we need faster cars during races so we need more durable tyres and more fuel/race in order to drivers push on the limit as long as possible during races.
      What is the fastest lap in Melbourne? Is it 1’23.529 (228.553 kph) Sebastian Vettel, 2011? And the fastest pole lap time? Where can I find these details?

  39. We can sum up the new format in one and a half words…….

    ‘kin farce

  40. I just think there’s too much fuss about something that has been gorwing into a problem since 2003 when they started messing with the qualifying session. IMHO the 1996-2002 format was the best. The drivers could build on their speed and take more risks lap by lap.

  41. ColdFly F1 (@)
    19th March 2016, 10:27


    The only replay the director could find at the end of the race was Hamilton out of the window of the FIA car.
    That sums it up nicely.

  42. For a first attempt the system didn’t really come together. But it was just as much caused by the teams as it was by the system itself. By the way, the number of laps per driver wasn’t that much different from last year.
    But if you’re at the bottom of the queue and you don’t have time for a pitstop, then you could stay out, do a recharge lap and a quick lap on same set of tyres. Instead some teams (Manor, McLaren) just decided to give up. Haas at least tried, but they got their timing screwed up. In Q2 Force India were clearly very happy with P9 & 10 (free tyre choice for the race) and Ferrari simply chickened out.
    Now, I liked the one-at-the-time elimination. We should see drivers desperately trying to avoid being eliminated, what didn’t really happen today. I think one obvious improvement could be tried at the next event: shorten elemination times to 60 seconds (instead of 90s). That makes the initial stage of each session 3 minutes longer. So everyone has a change to assess the situation, make a pitstop if they want to and be on track to defend or improve their position.

    1. Oh, what I forgot to say..
      Another improvement might be simply combining Q1 and Q2 into a single 36 min session with 10 minutes of free running and then eliminating a driver every 2 minutes. And then have Q3 as it is now, with 1 minute elimination intervals.
      Combining Q1 and Q2 might be a problem though for TV stations that sold ad time.

  43. The way this new qualifying system turned out is exactly why Formula One Management need to embrace the saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The previous qualifying system was fine, and generally exciting – even if there were periods at the start or middle of the session where there were few or even no cars on track, the frantic ending to each session made up for that.

    If we do want to put more pressure on the drivers, then the one change I would make is to bring in a Top 10 (or 8) shootout (or “Superpole” as some European series call it). Bring back Q1 and Q2 as they are, or even maybe just a single Q1 session, followed by a single lap shootout for the drivers in the Top 10 (or 8, or whatever). This puts huge pressure on the drivers, so it is certain to produce some of the “jumbled” grids that they desire (for example, if a fast driver locks up and runs off track, their lap is done), but without the confusion and apparent unfairness of the current system.

    Better yet, such a shootout could even improve competition in the previous qualifying session. If drivers get to choose the order they leave the pits based on their results in Q2, then it suddenly becomes important for the fast teams to ensure they finish well in Q2 (and not just “make sure we’re in the Top 10”), so they can ensure they have the ideal running spot for the shootout (either last so the track gets more rubber from previous runners, or if there’s weather on the way, then going first might be better).

    Regardless of how it is implemented, I think most would agree it’s a better idea than what we saw today.

    1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
      19th March 2016, 14:55

      This would be my preferred format also @vmaxmuffin; q1, q2 and superpole

  44. So it turns out that even without cautions, the elimination rate is such that drivers simply do not have the time to get a counter-punch run in. And the limited number and nature of the tyres means that drivers will not do a single extra lap they don’t need to. With those factors, the super-duper last-gasp edge-of-your-seat dramatic viewing of just two cars desperately dicing to win the Chase for the FOM Pole Trophy… didn’t even happen. When that core element of qualifying is missing, the system can only be described as fundamentally flawed. The fact that team bosses and drivers are using hardly less strong terms makes its scrapping a dead cert.
    In the words of Yoda, “At an end, elimination qualifying is. And not too short it was.”

  45. horrible horrible horrible!

    a change noone ever asked for…. looking back in the future, I bet this is probably the season I gave up on this ridiculous “show”

    1. Well, the thing is, it wasn’t horrible. It was much the same as last year, only with most of the action in the first part of the session instead of the last part. Now the obvious aim of this new system was to carry the tension through the whole of each session and that didn’t really work. I made some suggestions above how I think it could improved without much effort and I can think of some more options. This system has potential, they just need to get the details right.

  46. I think the biggest problem of the new format is because 2 (too) restrictive things in F1 today:

    1. The tires. Current Pirelli only have performance for 1 flying lap, probably 2 in some conditions. And on top of that each driver only have limited set of tires so running lot of lap when you only realistically gaining extra 1 or 3 position in the grid is foolish. The sacrifice of good set for race day is totally not worth it.

    2. Refuel. Since there’s no high performance fuel rig and the car must be refueled in the pits now, refueling is too consuming time. Even if we say one of the Mercs screwed up their 1st lap and can easily save themselves with another run, in the long circuit (Spa perhaps) and they only fueled for 1 lap, there could be situation where its basically impossible to get another run because you need at least double lap time (for out lap and flying lap) + extras spent in the pit and few seconds counting for the slower out-lap. On 2 mins circuit, you need about 10 mins to complete 2 run (6.5 mins for 1st run with out-fly-in lap. 1 min in garage refueling and changing tires, 4.5mins 2nd out-fly lap) which means its impossible for the bottom 2 driver to improve. Personally I don’t have problem with this because it encouraged the drivers not to make mistakes, but it will make less cars running the circuit during quali.

    This format can work great if the tires is durable or the teams have unlimited supply (maybe quali spec Pirelli that not available for race?) and refueling is permitted again so we can see lot of splash and dashes. The refueling itself doesn’t need to be so advanced, even a 15sec pitstop for changing tires and enough fuel to do 1 set of out-fly-in lap will improve the spectacle.

  47. This is the Problem of F1 these days. We had an utterly brilliant Pole position lap by Lewis and yet all we speak about is how bad the new qualification system just proves how the Rule makers are making rules with out common sense and Time and Time again FIA/FOM /Teams makes blunders interms of getting right sport direction.

    its not just Rules but also rule makers who need to refresh.

  48. Who was behind of swap of engineers between Hamilton and Rosberg? Looks like the team wants to hold Rosberg back again.

    1. @regs Considering Hamilton is the reigning champion, don’t you think if anything they want to hold Hamilton back? Or do you mean Hamilton is that much better than Rosberg so he can win WDC twice with the worse team of engineers and now Mercs is putting their best behind Hamilton?

  49. unless you are the fastest two of the qualifying session you have only have real attempt. And if, like Rosberg today, you need your second lap to get in front of ferrari, Hamilton can counter with better conditions, while rosberg can’t counter anymore. This system helps the fastest car out, by giving him more time and the best track.

  50. I have just finished watching qualifying (I recorded it rather than watching live) and I thought it was an absolute joke. The new qualifying is so badly broken it isn’t funny. What little excitement there was to be found was at the start of Q1, while the end of Q3 gave new meaning to ‘anti-climax’. I was shaking my head at the end of Q2 when there were no cars on track in the final two minutes, and that was before the embarrassing Q3 session. I think the 90-second elimination time was far too short, once one car had been eliminated it was extremely predictable that the next driver up would then be next to go. I did wonder whether this format would result in chaos, but instead it just fell completely flat.

    The real shame was that there were some interesting events in this session – fifth place on the grid for Max Verstappen is very impressive and could well be a marker for the future, and Lewis Hamilton’s stunning pace and smashing of the lap record – but these have been totally overshadowed by the format change. Frankly, it was boring and I think it was an embarrassment for Formula One. I seriously hope major changes will be made soon, I will be going to the British GP with my family and this format is not only confusing for non-obsessives, but a terrible spectacle (I fear it would be even worse live at the track than on TV, with the silent, empty track at the end of the session in full view).

    I seriously hope major changes are made, at the very least I think the knockout element needs to be removed from Q3. I personally think even if Q3 was restored to the top ten shoot out, with six cars knocked out in each of Q1 and Q2 as in the new format (with one car being eliminated every minute)

  51. “Formula 1 set to abandon new qualifying after Australian Grand Prix”


    “Formula 1 looks set to abandon the controversial new elimination qualifying system in the wake of heavy criticism after its introduction at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
    F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone admitted it had not worked, but said he was reluctant to revert to the old system.
    The 85-year-old wants to introduce an element of uncertainty in the hope it will hinder Mercedes’ domination.
    Teams are expected to meet in Melbourne on Sunday to discuss what to do next.”

  52. The strong need to save tyres always shows its ugly head!

  53. Too many paragraphs to say it was simply, boring.

  54. I’m quite angry to be honest. Ive been waiting for what seems like an age with such excitement and patience, only for some clown with absolutely no concept of the spirit of sporting competition to mess with the rules.

    How is restricting the total running time of the participants during the qualifying session by eliminating a driver every 90 seconds going to encourage more running? How is it going to improve the show? How does it improve anything? It’s beyond a joke now. If you ran a company like this, you’d be fired. If you ran football like this, you’d be fired.

    I can’t believe that after the first competitive session of 2016, tv pundits are almost being forced to apologise for the farce they’ve just broadcast in to your front room. Apologising for the sporting incompetence of a category on the brink of free fall.

    An idea so flawed, they are already talking of meetings with an agenda of quickly changing it. Why bother. Fans are leaving already.

    This sport is broken, whether it is economic to repair yet remains to be seen, but one this is for sure this is laughably embarrassing.

  55. Great lap from “Luigi”, nice to see he’s still mentally bulletproof.

  56. I am *this* close to losing my patience with F1. I can’t be bothered to elaborate, because at this point, I just don’t have the passion in me for this sport anymore. One step too far. I’ll watch the race tomorrow, but heaping a bunch of DRS passes on top of infuriatingly artificial gimmicks is only going to further exhaust me. I hope it’s a good, pure grand prix.

    1. When you see the old clips you see, character, atmosphere, drivers wrestling with cars, unpredictability and soul. Today it is a cold, bloated, corporate, clinical mess. I have been watching for 45 years …… but unless something changes fast I can see this is going to be the first season I largely ignore.

      1. I’m completely with you. Unlike your 45 years, glimmers of the 1996 season are as far back as I can go, but even then, it was a spectacle tuning in for qualifying–let alone the race. Present-day Formula 1 is restrained, pedestrian, overcomplicated, and gimmick-infested. It’s not raw like it used to be; it’s an overcooked, tasteless, bland, bargain-bin cut of motorsport that is being fatally mismanaged.

  57. RaceProUK (@)
    19th March 2016, 14:04

    The new qualifying format is an embarrassing disaster.

    1. RaceProUK (@)
      19th March 2016, 14:54

      OH, and it’s clear their software wasn’t quite ready; some of the on-screen graphics were clearly unfinished. Having said that, it was just a cosmetic issue.

      1. Wasn’t just a cosmetic issue, the elimination counter was missing for the first 2 (3 even?) eliminations.

        1. RaceProUK (@)
          19th March 2016, 22:33

          True, but they got that sorted for the rest at least

  58. woeful format, respect to Ferrari for killing it with their Q3 early finish.

  59. This new qualy will only work if cars are running constantly e.g. with some tweaking:
    Allow drivers to finish the lap they are on
    Ban refueling for qualify, you have to fuel enough to run the laps you plan on
    Force harder tyre use in qualy for same reason as above

    That being said, I guess the trial by media has already consigned this format to the rubbish heap.

    1. No trial by media necessary. It was just woefully unworkable.

      For your suggestion to work, the cars would need full tanks and hard compound tyres. That will slow the cars and only really test their race pace. We have session for that already. It’s called the race.

    2. I posted almost the exact same idea, and then saw your comment after. It’s the only way this format would work. Probably be interesting, but much slower times. We had that already with the race fuel load qualifying, years back.

  60. Michael Brown
    19th March 2016, 14:50

    About Hamilton’s pole time: it’s not the fastest pole here, but it is second fastest. The fastest was a 1:23.5 by Vettel in 2011. Hamilton’s 1:23.8 is one tenth faster than Vettel’s 2010 pole.

  61. I have an idea to spice up qualifying…. In order to impede Mercedes, Bernie should lay out in random corners on the track when the silver arrows are pounding around in Q3. This may have a beneficial effect in the short run.

    You’re welcome.

  62. David Maloney
    19th March 2016, 15:36

    Wow all the thrill of waitng for the new season gone. No competition, no racing, 2 of 3 qualifying sessions over with time remaining. Just plain sad.

  63. I may be in the minority here but I’m a believer in “If it isn’t broke don’t fix it.” Th old qualifying format worked fine as it understandable by both established and new fans and worked on a process based on the speed of driver/car ( which I think should be the foundation of motor racing.
    While watching last night’s (US) broadcast what little excitement or tension that was created by the new format was totally nullified by commercial interruptions and commentators who didn’t themselves seem to understand the qualifying rules. They apparently didn’t know that laps in process when a session time expired would count. This lack of knowledge and their mis-statement only added to the confusion.
    If the powers that be in F1 insist on pursuing this course I think the end result my be to alienate more fans while failing to attract new viewers. Some experiments work and some don’t. This one didn’t so please don’t let pride stand in the way of doing the right thing.

  64. I think I saw a tweet earlier from @keithcollantine earlier that summed it up. Almost all comments above are about the format which in itself is the worst thing about it! Barely a mention of the fact that Toro Rosso are currently the best of the rest behind Merc/Ferrari! Tomorrow’s race should be really good!

    Let’s talk about F1 again – it sounds like they will make changes before Bahrain anyway!

    1. Agreed. It’s almost impossible at this point to envision them not abandoning the failed experiment. Here’s hoping BE fails at implementing some other gimmick to replace it and just simply goes back to the previous method.

      Gonna be a blast watching Max.

  65. The initial frantic nature of Q1 was interesting and I was nearly ready to admit I was wrong about the new format. Then came all the confusion over if you could complete your lap after the timer knocked you out like you can when the chequered flag falls and I started to think maybe there are some bugs.

    But Q3 was an absolute joke. Save for a bit of showmanship by Hamilton throwing in an extra quick lap it was an abject failure. Rather than having the top 10 drivers scrabbling for a grid spot we got single laps deciding the entire top 8 and rather than a to the wire show down it was all wrapped up with 4 minutes to spare.

    I found it a bit baffling, being at the track it must have been even worse, for an F1 newb at the track I can’t begin to imagine what a confusing mess the whole thing must have been. Absolute joke.

  66. There was nothing wrong with the old Quali system. The problem is overtaking. They need to focus.

  67. Anyone know why there is no on-board footage of Hamilton’s pole lap?

    1. There is some on youtube…

  68. I think the only way this format would work is if they set a minimum fuel load. That would force them to do 8 or 9 hot laps to bring the weight down. Of course they’d have to use a harder compound to make that feasible. That would be interesting then. We’d have a sprint from all the cars, and one by one knock them off.

  69. A side note. I think they should be given 3 compounds to choose from, and forced to use at least 2. Surely we would see some interesting combinations and strategies that might give a team like Ferrari a chance to win races, even if they can’t beat Mercedes in qualifying. Again, they shouldn’t limit the number of tires available. It really ties the hands of the strategists.

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