© Getty Images

FIA confirms new F1 qualifying system, postpones new technical regulation decision

5 Comments

BARCELONA – The FIA has confirmed that it will introduce a new qualifying system for Formula 1 potentially as early as 2016 following a meeting of the F1 Commission in Geneva on Tuesday.

As reported on Tuesday, the F1 Commission – made up of F1’s biggest stakeholders – voted unanimously in favor of a shake-up of the current qualifying format by introducing quickfire eliminations to the running.

The FIA statement also confirms that any agreement on the new technical regulations for the 2016 season has been postponed until the end of April, as well as announcing that plans to introduce some kind of cockpit protection for 2017 are still being worked on.

NEW QUALIFYING FORMAT

After being approved unanimously by the F1 Commission, the new elimination-style format for qualifying could come into force as early as the Australian Grand Prix next month.

Here’s the FIA’s explanation of it:

A new qualification format was unanimously accepted by the F1 Commission. The new system is being evaluated for introduction, potentially as soon as the beginning of the 2016 season.

The basis of the new elimination format is as follows:

Q1

  • 16 minutes
  • After 7 minutes, slowest driver eliminated
  • Slowest driver eliminated every 1 minute 30 seconds thereafter until the chequered flag
  • 7 drivers eliminated, 15 progress to Q2

Q2

  • 15 minutes
  • After 6 minutes, slowest driver eliminated
  • Slowest driver eliminated every 1 minute 30 seconds thereafter until the chequered flag
  • 7 drivers eliminated, 8 progress to Q3

Q3

  • 14 minutes
  • After 5 minutes, slowest driver eliminated
  • Slowest driver eliminated every 1 minute 30 seconds thereafter until the chequered flag
  • 2 drivers left in final 1 minute 30 seconds

The final elimination in each session occurs at the chequered flag – not when time is up.

DRIVER OF THE DAY

As part of a new scheme to increase fan engagement in F1, a public vote will be held to pick the Driver of the Day, who will receive a prize.

“The F1 Commission agreed to the introduction of a Driver of the Day award, to be implemented by the Commercial Rights Holder in conjunction with Formula One broadcasters, with the intention of driving greater fan engagement,” the statement reads.

“Viewers will be encouraged to vote online for their ‘Driver of the Day’ throughout a grand prix, with the winner to be announced as part of the race broadcast immediately following the conclusion of the race, when the driver will be presented with their prize.”

2017 REGULATIONS

The ongoing debate regarding the proposed revamp of Formula 1’s technical regulations is only set to continue, with the FIA statement confirming that no decision will be made until the end of April.

The deadline had previously been the end of February, with a number of solutions being considered to make F1 cars quicker and improve the on-track spectacle.

“Following the recommendation of the Strategy Group, the F1 Commission agreed to postpone the deadline for the finalisation of 2017 Sporting and Technical Regulations until 30 April, 2016, to allow all stakeholders the best opportunity to complete all relevant work,” the statement said.

However, it has been agreed to make changes to the bodywork of the cars to increase downforce in a bid to speed the cars up, increasing the width of both the tires and the cars.

“New bodywork regulations have been adopted to create more exciting cars, delivering additional downforce to increase speeds and lower lap times,” the statement said.

“The FIA, teams and official tire supplier will continue discussions on the best solution for testing of the new tyres required as part of the regulations.”

Further discussions were also held regarding power unit supply, particularly the costs and obligation to supply, with a final decision again set for the end of April.

COCKPIT PROTECTION

Following the deaths of Jules Bianchi and Justin Wilson in 2015, cockpit protection continues to be debated by F1 with a number of different solutions being worked on.

The FIA statement confirmed that plans to introduce some kind of cockpit protection for 2017 continue apace, with the ‘Halo’ design currently being preferred by the teams.

“The F1 Commission confirmed the intention of introducing some form of cockpit protection from the 2017 season,” the statement said.

“All stakeholders are working together to make this a reality, with the ‘Halo’ concept currently the preferred option. Other options, such as transparent cockpit protection, will continue to be evaluated.”

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

Leave a comment

Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.