The lack of time and unanimity means F1 is stuck with the hated 'musical chairs' qualifying system for Bahrain. Mercedes' Toto Wolff, who like most other stakeholders declared the new 90 second countdown system "rubbish" after its farcical debut in Australia, sounded exasperated on Tuesday when faced with the prospect of a repeat this weekend.
"We haven't found the right format with this change and it's hard to see how it might be more entertaining for the fans this weekend in Bahrain," he said. Team bosses were initially unanimous in wanting to scrap the system after Australia, but it emerges that McLaren and Red Bull opposed simply tweaking 'Q3'.
A senior insider believes McLaren, in particular, felt so strongly about reverting to the popular 2015 format that it was not prepared to accept the "fudge" alternatives offered by the FIA in recent days. "There is no time to find another solution so the FIA cannot do anything other than maintain the system from Australia," F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is quoted by Spain's El Confidencial.
France's L'Equipe called the qualifying saga 'Le Grande Farce'. And another French-language source, RMC, said a petition has been launched through the change.org platform calling for an immediate change "as per the wishes of teams, drivers and fans".
Indeed, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel declared in Melbourne that the new format is "s--t", angrily revealing that the drivers warned in advance that it would not work. "I don't see why everybody is surprised. We all said what's going to happen and it happened," said the German. "There's a certain responsibility -- we can't just try things that many of us criticise and then turn around and say it was the wrong thing. We need to be sensible and try to do the right changes," Vettel added. (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing