2015 F1 qualifying format set to return in China

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Formula 1 bosses have agreed to revert to the qualifying system used in 2015 for next weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix after a meeting on Thursday, killing off the elimination-style format after just two races.

The F1 Commission tried to spice up qualifying by adding quickfire eliminations to the existing structure from 2016, only for it to come under heavy fire in Australia.

The series’ bosses failed to agree unanimously on replacing the format for the second race of the year in Bahrain, where it once again proved to be disappointing.

Officials met on the Sunday of the Bahrain Grand Prix and discussed alternatives to both elimination qualifying and the 2015 format, the latter not being favored by F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone and FIA president Jean Todt.

An aggregate system was put forward that would have seen drivers’ two fastest lap times be added together to form the classifications in Q1, Q2 and Q3, the latter completing the grid.

However, in a rare show of unanimity from the teams, a letter was sent to Ecclestone and Todt ahead of a meeting on Thursday that saw all 11 outfits back a return to the 2015 format.

In the meeting on Thursday, it was agreed that this will be restored for the Chinese Grand Prix next weekend, with Ecclestone and Todt backing down over the matter.

However, it must be stressed that the change must still be ratified by the World Motor Sport Council before being confirmed, making today’s decision provisional.

The FIA and Formula One Management released a joint statement confirming the outcome of today’s meeting soon after the decision became known.

“At the unanimous request of the teams in a letter received today, Jean Todt, President of the FIA, and Bernie Ecclestone, commercial rights holder representative, accepted, in the interests of the Championship, to submit a proposal to the F1 Commission and World Motor Sport Council to revert to the qualifying format in force in 2015,” the statement said.

“This proposal, if approved by the F1 governing bodies, will take effect as from the Chinese Grand Prix and will apply for the rest of the season.

“Jean Todt and Bernie Ecclestone welcomed the idea put forward by the teams to have a global assessment of the format of the weekend for 2017.”

The decision brings to an end one of F1’s more curious recent stories, with qualifying being the latest battleground in the ongoing fight for power in the sport between the teams and its bosses.