Bahrain Grand Prix: FIA and Bernie Ecclestone refuse to revert to 2015 qualifying format with aggregate system offered

An aggregate system is expected to be discussed next Thursday after an agreement with the F1 team bosses could not be reached

Philip Duncan
Sakhir, Bahrain
Sunday 03 April 2016 13:25
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Bernie Ecclestone speaks to the media after a meeting with the FIA and F1 team bosses
Bernie Ecclestone speaks to the media after a meeting with the FIA and F1 team bosses

Formula One's blundering rulemakers have once again failed to reach an agreement on whether to ditch the sport's unpopular new qualifying format.

After a 90-minute meeting in the paddock ahead of Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix, the sport's team bosses, FIA president Jean Todt and chief executive Bernie Ecclestone could not reach a unanimous verdict on what direction the sport should take.

It means the elimination-style format which flopped in Australia, and again in Bahrain on Saturday, could remain in place for the next race in China in a fortnight's time.

The FIA and Ecclestone tabled several new proposals in Sunday's meeting - the specifics of which have not been made public - and they will be discussed again in another meeting on Thursday.

Toto Wolff, the Mercedes boss, claimed the teams wanted to revert back to last year's format, but their suggestion was blocked by Todt.

Team bosses wanted a return to the 2015 qualifying format

"We can understand the challenges the FIA and the commercial rigthsholder have," Wolff said. "They said that 2015 is not acceptable for them as it was not good enough and we have to accept it.

"The main message from the team was please no experiments."

The sport's powerbrokers are in agreement that changes must be made to the new format which was hastily introduced for the start of the season in a bid to mix up the grid and thus provide more entertaining races.

But not only has it failed to create the unpredictability its governors craved, the complexity of the sport's rules has also seen it lead to a decrease in on-track action.

Indeed, while Saturday's final session - the eight-minute shoot-out for pole - was more entertaining than in Australia, Lewis Hamilton had already wrapped up pole with three minutes remaining.

It meant the chequered flag was greeted by an empty track for the second time in as many qualifying sessions.

Asked whether the proposed new format would be introduced in Shanghai, Claire Williams said: "I am not clever enough to determine that. I will leave that to our engineers. They are the ones who are going to have do the work to analyse if this new proposal will work.

"It is quite a well-thought through proposal that the FIA have come up with and hopefully it will be a solution that will work for everybody, and that will be be easy for our fans to understand, but also we will see more cars on the race track during qualifying which is what everyone wants to see.

"We are trying to change things as quickly as possible, but when you are flying around the world it is difficult to come up with a new solution."

PA

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