Following the completion of Wednesday’s testing in Barcelona, a meeting was held between a number of drivers and the FIA. Race director Charlie Whiting led the discussions which included a debate on the new qualifying format which will be introduced later this season.
The new format, which will see drivers being eliminated in real time rather than at the end of each of qualifying segment, has been met with mixed reviews by fans and pundits – but what do the drivers think?
It’s not all bad
Nico Rosberg: “I hope it stays simple, that’s important, and maybe is a bit more exciting during in qualifying.
“Instead of it always being at the very end, the result coming up, step by step with people dropping out, it will be good.”
Lewis Hamilton: “I don’t really feel like it’s going to change much, to be honest with you, but I hope it’s a surprise for us all.
“Generally, the format is the same, but it just puts more focus on ensuring you get your laps in, and it keeps people out, making sure they are out all the time.
“Hopefully, it will be good for spectators maybe.”
More important changes to make
Jenson Button: “I like new regulations, I think it’s fun to learn new regulations. People will make mistakes which will help us because we’re not the most competitive car.
“But I think there are more important things and other areas of Formula 1 that need to be looked at before we start messing with qualifying which I think has been pretty good. Lately, I think Saturdays have been a real standout I feel for the sport over the last few years.”
Daniel Ricciardo: “Yeah I think [there are more important changes]. There is no limit on how many things they can change, but if you were prioritising there are other things which would come first for sure.
“Qualifying was good, but if it means more cars out on track, at least at the start, then maybe that’s OK.
“Without looking into ‘how’s that going to work or what if it rains?’, the ins and outs, it seems fine. I don’t know how much it’s going to change.
“It might put a little bit more pressure on us to execute the lap early in the session because after five minutes or something they’re going to start ticking them off.
“You’ve got to not only execute the lap but set yourself up in traffic well, so there might be a little bit more precision involved rather than pick your moment in 15 minutes.”
What about the fans, is the new format too complicated?
Fernando Alonso: “[Viewing numbers] are down in all countries and so they are thinking about new things all the time to regain popularity.
“But some of the things they are thinking are crazy, like the new qualifying system, which is more complex than the one we had. We are giving the fans another headache.
“It’s a bit hard for people to follow and people want to turn on the TV and watch loud cars with big tyres and see overtaking all the time, and we don’t have that right now.”
Carlos Sainz Jr: “I read [the rules] very briefly and I didn’t understand them. If it makes things more spectacular then it’s welcome.
“I just hope that the fans that are not big fans of Formula 1 and just turn on their TV on Sunday understand it and they know what’s happening.
“That’s maybe my only worry because if I didn’t understand it at first glance then maybe that means it’s a bit complicated.”
Sergio Perez: “We are obviously not very happy with the new plans they want to implement. Let’s see if they can change it. We felt that it could be very complicated for the fans to understand – it’s complicated for us already.
“We also felt that qualifying is really good at the moment and there is no reason to change that.”