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Wolff calls new qualifying format “pretty rubbish”


Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff did not mince his words when discussing the debut of the new qualifying format on Saturday in Australia, calling it “pretty rubbish”.

In a bid to shake up the grid and improve qualifying as a spectacle for fans, the F1 Commission unanimously voted in favor of adding quickfire eliminations to the existing Q1/Q2/Q3 structure from Australia onwards.

However, it failed to achieve either of these goals as Lewis Hamilton led Mercedes to a front-row lock-out, securing pole with four minutes remaining in the session and leaving the track empty come the checkered flag.

The initial criticism has been strong, with many calling for the new format to be scrapped for the next race in Bahrain at the beginning of April.

Mercedes team boss Wolff joined the calls for change, saying that it was impossible to deny the issues that blighted qualifying on Saturday in Australia.

“We need to look at the qualifying format again. I’m the first person to say that we shouldn’t talk the sport down but when the evidence is there before your eyes, you cannot shut them and deny reality,” Wolff said.

“The new format is pretty rubbish – much too complicated to follow and a damp squib at the end with nobody running.

“These were the downsides that we expected to see, and they outweigh the upsides, that much is clear now.

“We wanted to listen to the promoters who were calling for a change, but my personal opinion is that we have found the wrong solution and we need to think carefully about what we do next.”

Wolff’s comments were echoed by F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone, who spoke to Autosport not long after the session finished.

“It was pretty crap. But this is what we’ve got, until we can change it,” he said.

“The only thing about this is that the quick guys could have run off the road, or done anything a little bit silly, and then you would get a mixed-up grid, which is what we wanted.”

Andretti United team names drivers for inaugural Extreme E season

Extreme E drivers Andretti
Extreme E
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The Extreme E team formed by Andretti Autosport and United Autosports named Catie Munnings and Timmy Hansen as its drivers Monday for the series’ inaugural 2021 season.

Munnings is a successful veteran of rally series. Hansen is a past winner and champion in the World Rallycross Championship.

They both will race in the environmentally conscious electric SUV series that will hold events in five areas around the world that are threatened by climate change. Chip Ganassi Racing and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton also are fielding cars in Extreme E, which will feature male and female co-drivers on every team.

Catie Munnings

“I’m so excited to join Andretti United Extreme E,” Munnings said in a release. ““I was really intrigued when I first heard about Extreme E, I just knew I had to be involved. The male / female racing partnership is a fantastic and exciting new concept. The season has incredible locations and the racing will be very exciting. It will be a new challenge for the teams and drivers, and I’m so thrilled to be working with such a strong team.

“The championship is a really innovative concept, it’s combining motorsport and science and will produce an important legacy in each race location. Bringing the platform that motorsport has in line with the awareness that the planet needs right now is awesome and a really important message.”

Timmy Hansen

Said Hansen: “Going into the Extreme E will be a new chapter in my career, one that I am extremely excited about. It is something brand new, not only for me, but the whole of motorsport. The format is something

we’ve never seen before. I’m also delighted to be able to carry the message of something bigger – talking about the environment and doing something good for the world – that’s something that really drives me. It’s going to be a big adventure in life to see these locations and I’m going to do my best in carrying this responsibility and hopefully making people aware of the challenges we have in the world, together with our passion for racing.”