Sebastian Vettel was not surprised by the new Formula 1 qualifying format’s failure to improve the spectacle or get more cars on track, saying that drivers predicted it would not be effective.
Last month, the F1 Commission unanimously voted in favor of adding quickfire eliminations to qualifying within the existing Q1/Q2/Q3 structure.
The belief was that it would punish drivers more severely for mistakes and shake up the grid while also getting more cars out on track for the session, improving the spectacle for fans in the stands.
However, its debut was met with widespread criticism after pole for the Australian Grand Prix was ultimately decided with four minutes remaining in Q3, leaving the track empty at the end of the session.
Vettel was far from surprised about the difficulties, saying that the drivers had seen it coming when the idea was first raised.
“I don’t see why everyone is surprised. We all said what is going to happen,” Vettel said.
“It happened. We were told to wait and see. Now we saw and I don’t think it was very exciting.
“It was a bit crazy in the beginning with all the cars pushing and trying to do a lap before they get kicked out, so managing traffic is busy but for no reason because the time is there in the session to do it.
“For the people in the grandstand, I don’t feel it is right way to go. There are no cars to watch. They want to see Lewis, Nico, Kimi, whoever – pushing to limit at the end of the session when the track is supposed to be at its best.
“I don’t think we need the criticism now. We had the criticism already but surely it is [the] wrong way to go. That is what we said.”