Niki Lauda has defended F1's controversial new qualifying format on the basis that the alternative floated by Bernie Ecclestone was "absurd". After some back and forth, the World Motor Sport Council finally rubber-stamped the new 'musical chairs' system that will debut in Australia next weekend.
However, Red Bull chief Christian Horner thinks there might still be some doubt. "I can sort of understand the direction they are trying to go in. They are trying to shake it up a bit, like a wet qualifying," he told the Sun newspaper. "But of course, Ferrari have the right to veto these things. To be honest, I have no idea whether the new qualifying will be in place in Melbourne."
Horner has been an advocate for sweeping change in F1, but he is among those who think tweaking qualifying was unnecessary. "Did it need to be done? Not really. Will it dramatically change things? Not really. Is it confusing? Yeah," Horner said.
F1 legend and Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda acknowledges the controversy, but he told the German broadcaster Sky Sport News HD that what Ecclestone originally pushed for was much more extreme. "About the new qualifying, you have to know the history," he said.
"Understandably worried about the (declining) audiences, he (Ecclestone) came to the strategy group with something completely absurd. Whoever took pole would have to start the race from tenth, and whoever is tenth would start from pole. An interesting idea. But for me it is against every rule of competition," the triple world champion said.
"To stop it, we all decided jointly to do this new system," Lauda explained, although like Horner he acknowledged there is still some doubt about whether it will actually debut in Melbourne. "The stupid thing is that we decide something and maybe nothing will happen," he said. "I am anxious to see what happens. But if it cannot be implemented, it will not matter," Lauda added. (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing