With the third round of the season now looming, F1 is heaving a collective sigh of relief that the hated 'musical chairs' qualifying is now gone. "There was simply too much criticism," Jos Verstappen, a former F1 driver and father of Toro Rosso sensation Max, is quoted by De Telegraaf newspaper. "The elimination system was a good idea, there were just too many teething problems. And a system with aggregate times would not have been appreciated by the neutral spectator," he added.
Getting rid of 'musical chairs' has been seen as a big win for the unanimously-opposed teams in the face of the might of Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA. But Niki Lauda said: "We have offered to go away and look calmly at a new system that allows the objectives of Bernie to be achieved." F1 supremo Ecclestone said the goal of 'musical chairs' was not just to spice up Saturday, but to shake up the grid.
So new ideas for 2017 and beyond are already being looked at. "We've made a big enough muck up to do that for this year so must not do that again," Ecclestone told the British broadcaster Sky. "We're looking at all these things which would be for next year obviously. Maybe having a race on the Saturday which would count instead of qualifying, for example," said Ecclestone.
But Toto Wolff, the Mercedes team boss, said F1 must never again introduce a fundamental change like a new qualifying format without properly assessing it first. "The fundamental way we should tackle these things is to analyse them properly," he said. "Do some scientific research, look at what has worked in the past and what didn't and not just come up in an erratic way with some kind of 'Wait a minute, I have an idea, why don't we try it!'"
"F1 is a global sport," Wolff insisted. "We have to be responsible to our audience and fans." To that end, Wolff said his idea is for a top-eight shootout, "The last 8 cars, each car separately on track, maybe that would be an interesting format," he said. (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing