Wolff calls new qualifying format “pretty rubbish”

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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.”