Formula 1 returning to old 2015 Qualifying format – what can we expect from China race

Formula One 2020
Formula One 2020
Formula 1 returns to 2015 format
Formula 1 returns to 2015 format

Formula 1 can be controversial at the best of times but they are happy to do quick changes when things don’t work out.

For 2016 it was going to be a new format. We would potentially see a battle for the pole position between Hamilton, Rosberg, or Vettel. Instead due to tyre and fuel concerns the teams gave up trying to get a better position. This left spectators and tv viewers bored in Q3 where limited driving was happening. As the top 2 who were supposed to battle for the pole position were from same team, Mercedes ruled it would be better to focus on the race as the two drivers where already top.

Old 2015 from China race Suspended 2016 format
(16 mins)
  • after 16 mins slowest 6 are eliminated
  • after 7 mins slowest is eliminated
  • every 30 secs slowest driver is eliminated
  • Assuming 22 cars – 7 drivers eliminated
(15 mins)
  • after 15 mins slowest 6 are eliminated
  • remaining 15 cars
  • after 6 mins slowest driver eliminated
    every 30 secs
  • Determines places 9-15 on grid
(14 mins)
  • leaves last 10 drivers to battle for Pole Position.
  • Qualifying based on time
  • qualifying for top 8
  • after 5 mins slowest driver is eliminated
  • every 1.30 min a driver is eliminated
  • leaves 2 last drivers to battle for Pole Position


What could we get from this change as spectators?

More cars on the track as it is now based on time and not slowest driver this means that there is more time for the drivers to set a decent lap time. A slow lap due to a driver caught up in traffic twice could potentially see him eliminated from the Qualifying session early on.

The  2015 format favours the fastest cars, the 2016 format made it more random. With every 30 seconds elimination it was supposed to force the cars onto the track. Since a lap averages around 1 min 30 secs on some tracks and you need a clean lap prior to that it ended up a bit random instead frustrating the teams.