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

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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.”