F1: Australian GP Qualifying Laughable

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons /

F1’s new qualifying format was on full display in Australia and the results were laughable for anyone who truly cares about the series.

Though the results of the Australian Grand Prix qualifying session could have been guessed before it was even run, the way in which they were achieved was laughable.

Australia was given the opportunity to showcase an all new qualifying format that had only been agreed upon less than three weeks ago. And if you haven’t heard, it didn’t go quite as planned.

A rundown of the format goes like this. Like usual, there are three qualifying periods within the session, these being Q1, Q2, and Q3.

Q1 goes for a total of 16 minutes, and when the timer has clicked over seven minutes, the slowest car at the time is eliminated. Subsequently, one car is eliminated every 90 seconds until there are only 15 left.

Q2 works in a similar way, but instead of 16 minutes, there is now only 15. When six minutes have passed, one car is eliminated every 90 seconds, with the final eight going through to Q3.

Finally, Q3 runs for 14 minutes, and at the five minute mark the first of the top eight are removed from the session. Like Q1 and Q2, every 90 seconds a car is eliminated, with pole position being decided at the end of this period.

It’s not the easiest system to understand, but nor is it the most complicated. Given time, fans would have easily learnt to figure out the new qualifying rules. But it looks like they won’t even have to.

This new system was put in place to encourage teams not to wait in the pits until the final moments of Q1, 2, or 3 to put in a fast lap. Fans want to see the cars on track, and in an effort not to be eliminated from qualifying, teams would be forced to deliver by coming out as soon as the pit lane went green.

This happened, with the first minutes of each period being a hive of activity. However, as we saw with Force India in Q2, teams were conceding defeat and parking their cars before the session was over.


Well, it’s actually obvious. With their rivals being eliminated every minute and a half, it came to a point where Force India knew they couldn’t do any worse than 9th and 10th. They also knew that by conceding defeat, and not trying to fight their way into the top eight, they would have a spare set of unused super-soft tyres (the quicker of the tyre compounds on offer) on race day.

As such, they could’ve used the extra tyres, but they might’ve only got as high as 7th or 8th, which is hardly worth it.

Ferrari appeared to have a similar opinion, the Italian marque parking their cars when they knew they could do no worse than 3rd and 4th. Deciding that an extra set of rubber was worth more than pole position.

This in turn allowed pole to be decided with four minutes left on the clock, with both the Mercedes drivers sitting in park ferme before the chequered flag had even been dropped.

The new qualifying system has been condemned by the drivers, team bosses, and fans alike for taking away the spectacle of qualifying all together (the exact opposite of what the FIA and the teams were trying to do).

Due to its overwhelming unpopularity, the knock-out qualifying formula will no doubt be replaced by Bahrain by its predecessor, or something entirely different all together.