Webber surprised elimination F1 qualifying got second chance

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Mark Webber is surprised that Formula 1’s decision-makers opted to give the much-criticized elimination qualifying format that debuted in Australia a second chance for this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

The addition of quickfire eliminations to the existing Q1/Q2/Q3 structure in Australia proved disastrous as it only worsened the problems of not having enough cars on track and pole being decided early.

Team bosses provisionally agreed on the Sunday of the race to drop the new qualifying format for Bahrain this weekend.

However, the failure of the F1 Commission to unanimously agree on what style of qualifying should replace it meant that the Australia format will remain for the race at the Bahrain International Circuit.

Ex-F1 driver and FIA World Endurance Championship winner Webber admitted he was surprised the new format had not been scrapped, and believes it will be no better the second time around.

“I thought we were leaving Melbourne in good shape with a decision to go back to a system which was working pretty well,” Webber told British newspaper the Daily Mail.

“But that’s not the case and we are back to the Melbourne scenario which even at its best it will struggle to equal what we had.

“For me the beef I’ve got is we are still focusing on the driver that’s on the bubble or the driver that’s slow trying to get into that session.

“Now with all due respect we are focusing on Nico Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez or young Esteban Gutierrez, now that’s fine. But we’ve also got to be focusing on the laps the big boys are doing to form the first few rows of the grid.”

Webber believes that the best qualifying format for drivers was the old one-hour open track session that saw drivers head out whenever they pleased, although they were restricted to 12 laps.

“The best one that suits the drivers doesn’t always suit the commercial rights holders and the best one I had was four sets of tyres and a one hour session, and those sets of tyres didn’t have to be used for the race either,” Webber said.

“So many things have changed since then. And we still need to keep explaining the sport. We have to say there are ramifications from a qualifying session that hurts tomorrow’s race. It’s just all talk.”