New qualifying format has been a disaster in so many ways

After two disastrous showings of the new qualifying format, Formula One teams have unanimously agreed to go back to the qualifying system from the 2015 season. The change will be made with immediate effect, which means that the old format will return as early as the Chinese Grand Prix on April 16, 2016.

The change was made after all the teams collectively railed against the current format, which Formula One thought would jolt some much-needed excitement back into the qualifying sessions. But the exact opposite has happened as teams have been reluctant to go all-out in qualifying, opting to preserve their tires and engine for the actual race. As a result, the latter parts of the qualifying sessions have become devoid of any action whatsoever as the checkered flags were waved on empty tracks. It happened in Melbourne and again in Bahrain.

Turns out, the teams have had enough of it and it seems that Formula One management has agreed to jump ship as well, at least for the remainder of the season. The proposal now falls on the desk of the F1 Commission, which is expected to approve it in the coming days as teams begin their preparations for the Chinese Grand Prix.

That said, proposals for different ideas are also being welcomed and if the world championships are settled well in advance of the last few races of the season, the remaining qualifying rounds for the subsequent races could be used as testing sessions for different qualifying formats. But for now, it’s back to the 2015 format, something everybody seems to be in favor of.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Why it matters

There comes a point when everybody just throws up their arms and says “enough is enough!” I believe Formula One reached that tipping point after the Bahrain Grand Prix. The new qualifying format just doesn’t work from a spectacle point of view. The people who thought about this idea clearly didn’t think it through when they first conceived it. They didn’t think about the implications of the format on the actual race and the strategies teams could use to circumvent getting better positions on the starting grid because they’re thinking of the bigger picture. It showed in the first two rounds of the season, which further highlighted Mercedes’ dominance and other teams’ apparent willingness to concede positions on the grid.

To be fair, the idea would’ve worked if there was more parity among the current crop of teams in Formula One. Having that kind of competitive balance meant that more teams would have better chances in finishing in the front of the grid. Unfortunately that’s not how Formula One works and the lack of parity was on full display in the first two qualifying rounds of the season.

Now that doesn’t mean that the 2015 format is the solution, because it isn’t, even if it is a better alternative than what we’ve seen so far this season. This brings us to the proposal that teams are allowed to come up with ideas that the series could experiment with in the latter stages of the season, provided that both championships – driver’s and constructor’s – are already decided.

It’s admittedly not the best solution to take because it feels like Formula One is drawing at straws and is desperate to find a qualifying format that’s more exciting than what we have right now. But this is the position the sport has put itself in because it’s been reluctant and stubborn to make the kind of changes that will really level the playing field.

That’s an issue for another day but it just goes to show how, by and large, the series has been so out of touch with the expectations of its fans. We want parity and we want excitement. Sadly, those two things aren’t possible with the current setup of Formula One and no amount of changes to the qualifying round will do anything to improve that.

Source: Motorsport

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