F1 teams unite in call to return to 2015 qualifying format

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The 11 Formula 1 teams have written a letter to the series’ bosses expressing their united call to return to the qualifying format used in 2015, according to reports.

The F1 Commission agreed in February to add quickfire eliminations to the existing qualifying structure from the Australian Grand Prix, only for the new format to prove highly unpopular.

As the F1 Commission could not unanimously agree on what format should replace it for Bahrain, the eliminations remained in place and once again failed to improve the session.

On Sunday in Bahrain, team officials met with F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone and FIA president Jean Todt for 90 minutes to discuss a possible change in the format of qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix. However, all that was agreed was to hold another meeting today.

Ahead of the summit, the 11 teams have informed Ecclestone and Todt that they are now firmly united on returning to the old qualifying format according to multiple reports including BBC Sport and Autosport.

Previously, some of the teams had been undecided on what format should be used, but now there is unanimity between them.

At the meeting in Bahrain, reverting back to the old style qualifying was not discussed as being a viable option due to opposition from Ecclestone and Todt.

Instead, an aggregate system was favored whereby drivers would have their two fastest times in each stage of qualifying added together to form the grid.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was particularly vocal about the idea, calling it “s**t”, and it appears that the teams have come to a similar view in the wake of their letter.

Underpinning all of this is the power struggle between the teams and Ecclestone/Todt, as explored by NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton in his latest blog post.

The F1 Commission will vote on qualifying again at today’s meeting, but unless an agreement can be struck, it would appear that the eliminations will remain for the Chinese Grand Prix on April 17.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III