How long will F1’s new qualifying format last? (VIDEO)


Saturday’s debut of the new Formula 1 qualifying format was intended to spice up the session, get more cars out on track and shake up the grid in a bid to improve the racing come Sunday.

Instead, what unfolded was one of the most disappointing qualifying sessions in the recent history of F1, ending with a massive anti-climax as pole position was settled with four minutes remaining in the day.

After being voted through by the F1 Commission despite being opposed by the drivers, the addition of quickfire eliminations to qualifying came into force on Saturday.

Although it did spice up Q1 and Q2, it also robbed many drivers of the chance to complete a quick lap, leaving fans to watch drivers either crossing the line for nothing or aborting a fast effort.

The biggest blow came in Q3, though, as only Mercedes completed more than one run and Lewis Hamilton was able to take his 50th career pole with four minutes remaining in the session.

The immediate reaction from both in and out of the paddock has been highly negative, with Red Bull team boss Christian Horner suggesting that F1 should scrap it for the second race of the year in Bahrain.

In this video, NBCSN’s Leigh Diffey, David Hobbs and Steve Matchett share their thoughts on qualifying, and consider just how long it will last.

“For me, it just did not feel like qualifying,” Diffey said.

“We all said at the time, why of all the things in Formula 1 that need changing, why change qualifying that has been an unmitigated success for years,” Hobbs added.

“It didn’t need tinkering with. I think what we saw today was absolutely a disaster.”

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.