Formula One Qualifying: Wha' happened?

I get to watch my first 2003 Formula One race on Sunday and I guess I didn’t follow the off-season well enough. What happened to qualifying? My brother in a brief conversation was telling me how they have faster cars starting back from the front, or something like that. I didn’t get the chance to get details from him.

I heard that the cars only get one flying lap. Is this right? And does anybody have the dope on what’s really the rules this year?

Here goes…

They have changed the system to ‘1 lap qualifying’.

On the first day the cars go out in order of fastest to slowest car for one lap. (well 1 ‘flying’ lap plus an in-lap and an out-lap) the time they get in that lap determines their place for the second day of qualifying,

The fastest driver on the first day’s qualifying gets to go out last on the second day qualifying (which is the most advantageous time to go)

Second day qualifying is also a 1 flying lap deal.

And after the one flying lap for grid position the cars are locked away and have to start the race with whatever fuel is in the tank. If you choose to carry a lot of fuel so that you don’t have to pit early then your flying lap will be slower than someone with a slower car who carries hardly any fuel in qualifying.

Check out F1 rejects to keep up to date on all things Formula 1. It’s damn good fun.

So other than what has been pointed out re qualifying everything is the same? I guess I have to interrogate my brother next week for whatever the heck he was talking about with the other stuff.

There may be other changes (there could be hundreds of tiny changes) but the main changes are only to the qualifying method, and the race fuel rule.

One little nitpick, Friday qualifying is done from the top of the point standings down to the bottom. Saturday is in reverse order of speed made on their 1 lap on Friday.

Mostly the changes were made to make a jumbled grid more likely, and thus, more passing, especially early in the race. Last year it seemed like every grid was F/F - McL/McL - W/W - R/R - etc. Traditionalists hate it, but the first two races have proved interesting, and rain should make this weekend’s race interesting as well.

Of some relevance today was a change in the tire rules. Bridgestone and Michelin are each only allowed to bring one type of “wet” tire, rather than the two from previous years.

It appears that the spec they’ve chosen to bring is more of an “intermediate” design than “full wet.” In torrential conditions, that wet tire isn’t going to cut it.

Some drivers were said to have tried to persuade the FIA to cancel today’s qualifying session using logic something like that.

I a) don’t like and b) can’t understand why the likes of DC (David Coultard) and MS (Michael Schumacher) dislike the new rules.
I personally like the new rules as it makes things more interesting. Last year I would consistently watch 10 minutes of qualifying, then get bored. And watch 10 minutes of racing, then get bored. With the new rules in place I find that my attention lasts the whole race/qualifying session.

Surely the new rules would make things more challenging. Surely MS and DC (and others) would like that.

MonkeyMensch, there has also been a change in the point system. Now the top eight finishers get points in this order: 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1. Besides allowing more finishers get a point or two, it cuts the advantage of winning the race from a four point margin to only two points. Many opinions expressed in magazines, etc., called this another “Ferrari-buster” rule to keep Michael Schumacher from getting a huge lead from early-season victories. Ironically, the new point system is keeping him from falling too far behind so far! (And incidently, had this scoring system been in place in 1999, Eddie Irvine would have been World Champion.)

BTW, I might add that the qualifying rules are not a new idea. This system is quite common in karting, I believe even in FIA-sanctioned events of the past.

Thanks, akitaking, I was wondering about the points totals I was seeing. As always, you guys do nice work…

I agree with Lobsang. The qualifying session is tonnes of fun to watch now. And the first 10 laps of the race is great too, with all of the good cars and drivers who happened to clock poor qualifying laps passing the weaker cars ahead of him. Can’t remember exactly, but I think in Australia Ralf passed two cars within one s-curve. I haven’t seen anything like that since they started panting the McLaren’s silver.

Overall I much prefer the new rules. They certainly have made the entire weekend much more exciting, especially compared to the last 2 seasons.

Having said that, I’m not so sure I like the new qualifying format. Qualifying is no more the fight for pole position it used to be, and that’s just a shame. No more is it the driver’s skill or the car’s competence that determines grid position - team strategy for race day now plays too much of a part for my liking, much in the same way team strategy became the difference between winning and losing in the Hakkinnen vs. Shumacher days. I saw too many races being won in the pits.

And it’s the same again. I’m not denying that the new format makes for more interesting starts on race day, but I’d much rather see the driver’s going out 3 times, or at least twice, for qualifying. There is much more excitement, IMO, when Montoya comes out the second time to beat Schumacher’s pole time (and then the anticipation of seeing Schumi come out to beat Montoya again!) as opposed to just one qualifying lap. IMO, it dilutes the advantages of being on pole… besides, Schumacher may never beat Senna’s pole position record now!! And that’s just sad.

I like the new points system though… at least the championship fight should last a little longer from now on!! I’m also glad that the FIA is banning driver aids like traction control and launch control - once again we will be treated to some beautiful power slides from Montoya and Villeneuve.

And for my last two bits: Villeneuve should join Ferrari. He desperately needs a better car!! I’d love to see some Schumacher vs. Villeneuve on equal footing… at the same time, i like Barrichhello in the Ferrari. Hey, maybe Ferrari can be allowed to field three cars!!

Take a look at what is happening in the Motocycle GP qualifying right now.
Rain affected qualifying where conditions are changing minute to minute means that some riders are not getting within the 107% of the pole sitters time, and it means they don’t race.

Some of the best riders are down the grid just because of the weather, nothing at all to do with strategy, skill, or even their machinery.

What will happen when F1 gets such a session where it rains part way through and half the field including the main protagonists don’t qualify ?

I like the idea of having the cars locked away after the qualifying session, it means the end of qualifying engines, and qualifying chassis and this in turn reduces the cost of the sport and allows the smaller teams a little more financial stability.

I do not like the old system where a driver could be on a flying lap and be baulked by another driver on a warm up lap, but the super pole system is no good either.

I think there should be more time for practice sessions to gather the track information, that the drivers should have a reduced number of laps to get their best qualifying time, say best out of 6 laps instead of the former 12 laps, I also think that allowing each team to pick exactly when they go out for qualifying is a crock as this is what leads to track congestion.
Each team should be alloted 2 sessions of 3 laps each one car on the track at one time. There should be 2 qualifying sessions, with a possible reserve in case of problems, like dramatic weather changes.

I’m an F1 ignoramus and I still don’t understand the points made about qualifying. Please help!

  1. don’t ask Your ‘F1 rejects’ link didn’t work when I tried it.

  2. Lobsang You say that going out last on the 2nd day qualifying is the most advantageous time to go. Why?

  3. If going out last is most advantageous on the 2nd day, does the same apply to the 1st day?

  4. Casdave writes “allowing each team to pick exactly when they go out for qualifying is a crock”. Huh? All the previous threads are saying teams go out in a specified order - so is Casdave now saying they can please themselves when they go out? If Casdave means that they have to go out in a given order (after team X but before team Y) but can choose their moment, how much latitude do they have - can they wait for hours if it suits their purpose?

Sorry if I’m being dense. In recent years an F1 fan friend tried to encourage me to watch the races on TV, but they were so processional I could never get interested. If the races have got more interesting and less predictable, I’d maybe start watching again, but this thread has left me confused! And the TV coverage never explains anything.

They have scrapped the 107% rule this year, so everybody gets to race.


Under the old qualifier rules, each team had one hour to compete 12 laps which they could do at any time during the session.
This meant that teams would try to be as late as possible to keep their cards hidden, and good engineers could gain some information by watching how other cars behaved, after all when you know what a competitor is capable of on certain types of circuit and you see them slide round some corners and yet put in a good time, then you have a reasonable idea of their set up.

The problem is that conditions usually improve over time, as more rubber is laid down the grip improves but the counter to that is that as track temeprature increases, which it tends to as time goes by during the day, then your tyre pressures need to change to maintain optimum performance.

The result was that you would see little action until the last 15 minutes of the session and then everyone would be out on the track at once, some warming up, some slowing down, and some doing hot laps.No wonder such a system used to lead to traffic problems.

Now the teams take turns in a specified manner so the track is clear, but the result is that it would take way too long for each team to get more than a couple of laps in, and this is why I think there should be two qualifying sessions, each of 3 laps per team one lap is warmup the next the hot lap and the last the pit lap.

Possibly it’s as simple as the fact that they have the fastest cars, and liked things just fine the way they were. However I think that the pundit on the qualifying programme may have misunderstood what Coulthard was saying - the criticism appeared to be directed at the first “qualifying” session, which I would agree (with Coulthard) is of little consequence.

But I do think that the final qualifying session is greatly improved. From an entertainment point of view the old system had many problems : long periods of inaction, flying laps being spoiled due to a crowded track, idiot TV directors who preferred to show Schumacher’s out laps rather than anyone else’s flying laps. All these problems have been solved by the new system.

I think it’s only a Ferrari-buster rule in as much as Ferrari were the biggest offenders when it came to team orders - one of the most serious problems for the sport. Recent seasons have been badly affected by Ferrari’s refusal to let Barrichello race. The new points system reduces the incentive for the race leader to let his teammate pass as the difference between 1st and 2nd is only 2 points.

TV trailers for the new season announced that there would be no more team orders, but Ferrari have stated that they will continue to use them if they choose, and I don’t see how it can really be enforced.

I believe that this has been put back to next season as a result of McLaren (and possibly others) appealing. I’m looking forward to it though. If it was up to me, there would be no electronics in the cars at all.