McLaren and Red Bull were not the only teams that objected to the tweaking of the highly-controversial 'musical chairs' qualifying system for Bahrain. We reported on Wednesday that because those two teams rejected the FIA's proposal to tweak only the 'Q3' segment after the farcical debut in Melbourne, the sport is stuck with the same hated format for this weekend.
A senior insider told us McLaren, in particular, felt so strongly about wanting to revert to the full 2015 format that it was not prepared to accept the FIA "fudge" proposal. Germany's Auto Motor und Sport now reports that Toro Rosso and Williams also opposed the only FIA alternative on offer, which was to stick with 'musical chairs' countdowns in Q1 and Q2 and revert to a 2015-style Q3.
FIA race director Charlie Whiting confirmed: "The strategy group, F1 Commission and the World Council approved the new format before the season. We are still ready to modify it, but not return to the old rules," he added.
Daniel Johnson, the respected young F1 correspondent for the Telegraph, said the four non-compliant teams should not be blamed. "It was the failure of the FIA," he said, "to (not) allow the teams to vote on a return to 2015's qualifying format which broke the consensus. The lack of leadership by the FIA fits a worrying trend," Johnson added.
So it means that when it comes time to set the grid for the Bahrain grand prix on Saturday, F1 fans will face a repeat of the farcical Melbourne situation. "Yes it does (come as a shock)," former F1 driver Mark Webber told the Daily Mail. "I thought we were leaving Melbourne in good shape with a decision to go back to a system which was working pretty well. But that's not the case and we are back to the Melbourne scenario which even at its best will struggle to equal what we had," he added. (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing