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We mentioned a few weeks ago that Formula 1 was looking into the idea of improving the qualifying session by avoiding the case of cars sitting in garages for Q3 to save tires and get a free pick on what compounds they would start the race with. You see, teams that placed a timed lap in Q3 had to start on the tires they set their qualifying time on and some teams, not destined for the front row, decided that sitting in the garage would skirt the issue of tire commitment. F1 wasn’t too keen on that nuance to their qualifying rules so they’ve decided to act.

The strategy group met this week to approve changes to the qualifying session with teams who make it to Q3  starting on the compounds they used in Q2. They also will reduce the Q1 session from 20 to 18 minutes leaving two additional minutes to tack on to Q3 for a total of 12.

The changes still have to be approved by the FIA World Motor Sport Council, which seems a mere formality, prior to being installed for the Australian Grand Prix on March 16.

One element missing was the thought that Pirelli would create a qualifying tire with lot of grip and almost no shelf life just for Q3 participants in order to really amp up the Q3 running but apparently that idea wasn’t thrown on the table at the meeting…bummer.

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Heavyboots (Aust)

    First real decision since Burnie has stepped a side, first good decision in a long time.

  • Niyoko

    I like this change. )

    I have a question about this wording, “…allowing teams who make it to Q3 to actually start on the compounds they used in Q2. ” I just want to be crystal clear in understanding that “by allowing” means that the teams are allowed the choice of starting on the Q2 time tire vs. the Q3 one. Is this the case?

    • It’s a good point, my wording was a little unclear so I changed it. Basically teams in Q3 will start on Q2 rubber.

  • I can see the timing causing issues. 18 mins for Q1? Around Spa for example? I sense even more claims of blocking and stupid penaltys ruining Saturdays.

  • JasonI

    How hard would it be to give the teams an extra set or 2 of tires to use on Saturday?

  • Ground Effects

    Not sure how this gets more action in Q3? I was under the impression the teams laying out in Q3 did so to save a set of tires for the race as they believed they could not advance toward the front of the grid even if they did go out based on Q2 times. Are there more tires for Q3 participants as was also mentioned previously? Guess we will find out in a couple weeks how the changes effect the Q3 cars participation. Perhaps many of the teams will still be looking to run as much as possible and even this 12 minutes with only 9 other cars on track will look like a testing opportunity.

    • jeff

      Yes, Pirelli’s allowing an extra set of the “Option” compounds of that race for the Q3 participants that must be returned whether used or not.

      I too wonder if runner’s will use the tires; mileage on the power train seems an issue for the teams.

      If they really wanted to encourage running, FIA could have done something like mandated all Q3 runners must set a time within 107% or some other percentage of the Pole sitter; that way, all 10 would at least have to push harder than an install lap.

  • Rapierman

    Just to be sure: It seems like they could lay out in Q2 to save tires instead of laying out in Q3. Is there a mechanism to prevent this?

    • MIE

      If a driver doesn’t set a time in Q2 then he will start in 16th place, so more than halfway down the field. This should be enough to encourage them to try and qualify.

    • Daniel

      Why not just make the drivers from Q1 and Q2 start on their qualy tires while the Q3 get tire selection if they make it.