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New elimination-style F1 qualifying rules published in sporting regulations

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The new qualifying rules for the 2016 Formula 1 season have been rubber-stamped ahead of next weekend’s Australian Grand Prix after the FIA published its updated sporting regulations on Friday morning.

The F1 Commission agreed unanimously at a meeting in Geneva last month to add quickfire eliminations to qualifying from the start of the season.

Under the new format, after a ‘safe’ period, the slowest driver will be eliminated every 90 seconds in the existing Q1/Q2/Q3 structure until just two cars are left on track fighting for pole position.

F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone claimed that the new format would not come into force until the Spanish Grand Prix as the timing software still needed to be written, but this has since been resolved.

On Friday, the FIA published the updated sporting regulations for the 2016 F1 season, confirming and clarifying the new qualifying rules. Here’s how they’ve been detailed.

The qualifying practice session will take place on the day before the race from 14.00 to 15.00.

The session will be run as follows:

a)  From 14.00 to 14.16 (Q1) all cars will be permitted on the track. Seven minutes after the start of the session the driver last in the classification will be eliminated and will no longer be timed, he must then return to the pit lane and may take no further part in the qualifying practice session. The same procedure will then apply after 8m30s, 10m0s, 11m30s, 13m0s and 14m30s leaving sixteen cars eligible to continue. At the end of the session all drivers on the track may complete the lap they are on and, once these final laps have been completed, the driver last in the classification may take no further part in the qualifying practice session.

Lap times achieved by the fifteen remaining cars will then be deleted.

b)  From 14.24 to 14.39 (Q2) the fifteen remaining cars will be permitted on the track. Six minutes after the start of the session the driver last in the classification will be eliminated and will no longer be timed, he must then return to the pit lane and may take no further part in the qualifying practice session. The same procedure will then apply after 7m30s, 9m0s, 10m30s, 12m0s and 13m30s leaving nine cars eligible to continue. At the end of the session all drivers on the track may complete the lap they are on and, once these final laps have been completed, the driver last in the classification may take no further part in the qualifying practice session.

Lap times achieved by the eight remaining cars will then be deleted.

c)  From 14.46 to 15.00 (Q3) the eight remaining cars will be permitted on the track. Five minutes after the start of the session the driver last in the classification will be eliminated and will no longer be timed, he must then return to the pit lane and may take no further part in the qualifying practice session. The same procedure will then apply after 6m30s, 8m0s, 9m30s, 11m0s and 12m30s leaving two cars eligible to continue. At the end of the session any driver on the track may complete the lap he is on and, once any final lap has been completed, the overall classification will be established.

The new format will be put to the test for the first time on March 19 in qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry. Time just published a brief piece by Wallace saluting Hamilton as a trailblazer.

The idea of Hamilton attending the NASCAR season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it would seem right for Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — to spend some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).