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When the new qualifying format was announced, I was a little surprised. Not because it is the one element of F1 that most fans are happy with thus not needing a change but because I was slightly concerned about how the fans at home would be able to track the minute-by-minute elimination of cars on track.

That takes quite a bit of thinking on the technical side as to how best track the cars and then relay that information to some sort of graphic that can be understood on-screen for fans at home. I’m not saying it’s impossible, just that it takes some time to think that one through. It’s a big change and more reliant on real-time data and system management than ever.

According to the Independent, F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone says that the new format may have to wait until Spain at the earliest as the IT folks have to get all of this sorted.

“The new qualifying won’t happen because we can’t get everything ready in time,” Ecclestone told the Independent. “We can’t get the software done in time. So the qualifying changes will probably be in Spain.”

In the end, it would be surprising to see the sport actually change the format mid-season as teams are usually very touchy about such things. They don’t like mid-stream changes and it would stand to reason that perhaps the new qualifying format may not come in 2016 but that’s just a guess on my part. Regardless, it’s not what Ecclestone wanted in the first place:

“I wanted a very simple thing. I wanted qualifying to stay as it is, because it is good and then if a guy is on pole and has won the last race he gets so many seconds added to his tie so he has to fight through the bloody pack to get in the lead, which he would do in the end. It would be exciting racing whilst he is doing it”

One would consider the type of change the F1 Commission has agreed to would have been vetted with F1’s technical wonks prior to being approved and announced wouldn’t you?

Hat Tip: The Independent

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Tom Firth

    You’d think that wouldn’t you… but no usually with these type decisions, the IT people are the last to know, and expected to implement it because that’s what someone decided it should be.

    That’s not just F1, that’s basically all of it.

  • MIE

    Much like the discussion about the reintroduction of refuelling last year, I think this is all about getting F1 in the news, and reminding casual fans that the season is about to start. It is the sort of publicity that Bernie is very good at generating, be it sprinklers, medals or comparing female racing drivers to white goods. What he says doesn’t seem to matter, it is the fact that the sport gets column inches that matters (he doesn’t understand social media so that is an appropriate measurement).

    • Tom Firth

      Is some truth in that. I do think part of it is also to gauge reaction to lead to an actual implementation of this though, if infact are being told can’t do it until Spain, most be some sort of feasibility study going on.

      • MIE

        The other issue is that teams have already picked their choice of tyres for the early races assuming they would be qualifying using the rules in place last year. This coming week they have to pick the compounds they want to use for the Canadian race, so changing qualifying with less than fourteen weeks notice will cause the team’s issues.

        • Shocks&Awe

          Leave it to Mie, uh, Yiu, to get to the heart of the issue.

        • Tom Firth

          Ahh but then the usual solution exists if it causes teams issues, simply blame Pirelli for not managing it.

          That’s about standard isn’t it? Plus pirelli must know so the teams, FOM and FIA will expect them to accommodate to the change, if indeed do implement for mid season, right.

  • The Captain

    I actually laughed pretty hard at this yesterday. Bernie finally using his powers for good???

    I support killing this stupid qualifying idea right now in the womb, for every reasons anyone can come up with. The thing is though…. Bernie’s lying his ass off here. Needing more time for graphics work? Yea, that’s an excuse I give to a client when we’ve screwed something else up. In reality a competent graphics person or editor or on-location Kyron guy can make up a graphic saying so and so was eliminated in a matter of minutes (provided they have the raw graphic elements which they do). Hell, all they have to do is just change when they set a drivers name to red on the side pylon.

    The software issue would need more time, but not as long as he’s saying. I’m sure a competent programmer can insert the necessary algorithm to eliminate the last driver in a couple of weeks at most. Now you would need to test it alongside the old system so perhaps that’s what’s going on, but that’s what one or two races.

    But sure for once I’m behind Bernie here and lets just come up with any excuse not to do this stupid idea.

  • Paul KieferJr

    Yanno, if you put in GPS devices and have something track their location, you probably could figure out which ones to eliminate.

  • jiji the cat

    “He gets so many seconds added to his time”

    Hmmmm.

    • jakobusvdl

      More wins = more seconds? Next it will be ‘success ballast’, reverse grids and medals ! How does any of that represent the pinnacle of motorsport?
      I hope MIE is right, that this is just Bernie going for publicity, and it will never be implemented.

      • Tom Firth

        You forgot sprinklers!

  • Andreas Möller

    So, all Bernie wants is to “muddle up the grid so that the guy that is quickest in qualifying doesn’t sit on pole and disappear”. That’ll only end up with qualifying being a race for P2. So if one driver goes out and sets a semi-quick time in Q3 (trying to avoid P1), everybody else will try to go slower… Now, that’s entertainment. Not.

  • Schmorbraten

    F1 is such a banana republic.