Fernando Alonso says that he is saddened by the ongoing Formula 1 qualifying revamp saga, believing that the complexity of the sport risks turning fans away.
Last week, the F1 Commission agreed unanimously to introduce quickfire eliminations to the existing qualifying structure as of the Australian Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.
The decision was then criticized by F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone, who also revealed that the software required for the new system would not be ready until the Spanish Grand Prix in May.
Reports from the Barcelona paddock in testing earlier this week suggested that the eliminations will now be implemented for Q1 and Q2 in Australia, but Q3 would remain unchanged.
Drivers met with F1 race director Charlie Whiting on Wednesday night to discuss the new format, with many expressing their dismay over the debacle.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Alonso hit out at the lack of a final decision with just 16 days to go until qualifying takes place in Melbourne.
“I’m sad for the sport, because it doesn’t look right from the outside when in one week we change the qualifying format three times, or we pretend to change the format three times but no-one [confirmed] anything,” Alonso said.
“If I was from another sport, I would look at Formula 1 a little bit surprised.”
Alonso said that this was just the latest in a long line of complex rules and aspects of F1 that could turn fans away, also citing the engine and tire rules.
“I don’t think that it’s right, the changes, too many changes,” Alonso said.
“The complexity of the rules also for the spectator is high. All my friends in Spain, they want to switch on the television and watch battles, big cars, big tires, big noise and enjoy the race like they do with other sports.
“But for us they only know about MGU-H, MGU-K, state of charge, super-soft, used, mandatory, medium, when you are fourth in the race three laps to the end, you need to put [on] another mandatory tire – things like that.
“It is normal they switch off the television.”