Return of 2015 qualifying – a victory for common sense

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Common sense has finally prevailed.

After what could be fairly described as the most farcical Mexican standoff in sporting history, Jean Todt and Bernie Ecclestone have relented to pressure and agreed that the only way forward is for Formula One to ditch the metaphorical car crash that has been elimination qualifying and revert back to the tried and tested system that has served us so well for many years.

They say there are two sides to every story. In this case you would have searched far and wide before you found anyone who was backing the beleaguered FIA president.

While the teams must share some of the blame for the fact that elimination qualifying ever saw the light of day, the fact that they realised almost immediately the scale of the disaster that had been created and united as one to have the 2015 system restored for the good of the sport can only be to their credit.

The same could not be said for Todt and Ecclestone, who, while fully aware of the negative press swirling around the paddock as a result of the decision in which they were partly complicit, persisted in defending the indefensible in what can only be described as a misplaced attempt to salvage pride.

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Jean Todt and Bernie Ecclestone

If Todt, as he claims, had read social media and, presumably, seen how widely detested the new qualifying system was, then in what way could he possibly have believed that the shambles that had unfolded in Melbourne would not be repeated in Bahrain?

As for Ecclestone, who famously engages in shenanigans as part of wider attempts to gain the upper hand in negotiations, it is astounding that he saw this as a battle that he could win. The fact that he was not a supporter of the elimination system – instead favouring an even more confusing time ballast or a reverse grid that would have been just as reviled had they seen the light of day – makes his part in this elongated malaise all the more frustrating.

The saddest aspect to this needless saga is that it has completely overshadowed the fact that, on the track, the season has kicked off with two exciting races. Mercedes look like they might just have a fight on their hands against a promising challenge from Ferrari, and behind the top two teams the pack has bunched up to the extent that it is anybody’s guess who will occupy the rest of the spots in the top ten.

Ironically, the fact that this story has been allowed to play out for so long has done the FIA much more damage than if they had agreed to revert qualifying after Australia. Nobody likes to admit when they are wrong about something, but had humble pie been digested and the 2015 system used in Bahrain, this whole sorry mess would have been long forgotten.

The return of the much loved three-part system still has to be rubberstamped by the F1 Commission and the World Motor Sport Council, but with the FIA having now backed down, this should be a mere formality.

The most important thing now is that the sport moves on from this debacle and that focus quickly returns to the action on the track.

Stephen D’Albiac

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One thought on “Return of 2015 qualifying – a victory for common sense

  1. Well done. I think what we’re learning through this nonsense is that Bernie Ecclestone really doesn’t love F1. He’s probably not been a fan of the sport for two decades. Seems unfathomnable, but then again so do his actions. For example, why on earth he did not take a harder line to defend the endeavor when all of this manufacturer-driven change crept into the mix makes no sense. It’s all rather simple, isn’t it? Lauda was correct. All F1 needs can be boiled down to:
    *Big tires
    *small wings
    *(the option for) normally aspirated engines to allow smaller teams to compete
    *drivers pushing flat out lights to flag
    *less overall restriction on tires and design
    oh, and perhaps capping the season at no more than 18 Grands Prix

    But, thanks to politics, that is not what we’ll get in 2017. Whether it’s the F1 Commission, The Strategy Group, Jean Todt, or Ecclestone himself . . . the internal push away from Lauda’s suggestion toward a return to diffusers, ground effects, and cars cornering over 5g begs question. The turbo-hybrid era, despite everything that we hate, has at least given us chassis that do not stick to the circuits as if they are on rails. Who is making these decisions and why? If we can see this why can’t they?

    Personally, I think they should take a look back to the turbo era of the early 80’s. There’s a lot that can be taken from that time in terms of making the sport more viable for independent teams.

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