Lauda hits out at ‘stupid’ qualifying

Niki Lauda says F1's new qualifying format is "really stupid" but adds that Mercedes also did not want a reversed grid.

As Formula 1 bosses debated making changes to qualifying, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone proposed a reversed grid whereby the driver who claims pole position would drop back to 10th place.

But as Mercedes showed superior one lap pace last season, claiming 18 of the 19 pole positions, Mercedes were not in favour of that idea.

However it seems the new format is also not going down well with the Brackley team's non-executive director.

Lauda has hit out at the rule changes, which will see drivers eliminated at set intervals during each of the three segments, calling it "stupid."

He told Gazzetta dello Sport: "They seem really stupid to me.

"I am part of the Strategic Group and Bernie Ecclestone arrived and told us that he wanted to change something in terms of the pole position to make it more exciting. His first proposal was to invert the grid and have the top time start in 10th.

"It wouldn’t have been convenient for us at Mercedes, so it might be better for us to accept the other proposal, but I don’t know if everything will be in place at Melbourne. The drivers don’t like it."

The Austrian also shared his thoughts on Mercedes' dominant form, which yielded back-to-back championship doubles in 2014 and 2015.

"Well it isn’t Mercedes’ fault if we’ve been faster the last two seasons," he said.

"Our goal is to continue that but I think that the gap has been reduced.

"Last season we had a 0.600 second advantage over Ferrari but they are closer this season. Our gap may come down to 0.200 so anything can happen."

Pressed as to whether this year's battle will be between Mercedes and Ferrari, he responded: “Yes. Red Bull are quick and I think they can cause problems at the street races like Monte Carlo and Singapore.”

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