F1 drivers eye single-lap qualifying revival

Fri, 30 June 2023, 10:00

Jun.30 (GMM) Formula 1 drivers may recommend a major change to the qualifying format for shorter circuits like the Red Bull Ring.

Grand Prix Drivers’ Association director George Russell on Thursday said it’s a good thing that the FIA has agreed to meet with the drivers this weekend in Austria.

“I think it’s important that maybe twice or three times a year that we come together with the guys making the decisions so they hear our views and we also hear theirs,” said the Mercedes driver.

One topic of conversation might be the drivers’ concerns about the treacherous bumper-to-bumper traffic often seen at the end of qualifying at short circuits like the Red Bull Ring.

“There are a few options to improve this,” said Fernando Alonso. “One is single-lap qualifying, like in the past.”

Indeed, when Alonso won his first title in 2005, single-lap qualifying was a feature – although it was subsequently scrapped and replaced with the much more popular current Q1, Q2 and Q3 ‘knockout’ format.

Alonso, though, thinks a reversion to the old system might now be a good idea.

“It would be ideal, in my opinion, because it’s only one car on track and full TV coverage for that lap, for everyone’s sponsors and things like that as well.

“That was, I think, my preferred option.”

Fellow Spaniard Carlos Sainz, however, thinks the traffic problem is only a big issue when the track is full in Q1.

“So it would be only short tracks and Q1s maybe,” said the Ferrari driver. “The single lap qualifying is maybe something to experiment with. Maybe to try it in these sprint weekends could work.

“Personally, I’m a big fan of it, because I like that feeling of suddenly having the whole track for you and having the pressure to perform only in one lap.”

Sainz admitted that single-lap qualifying was “a bit boring” for the television audience, but current technology may solve that problem.

“You’d have to animate that single lap,” he said. “If you could put a ghost car of the fastest lap, something like that could be achievable.

“I think we should look into it.”

Valtteri Bottas also likes the sound of a return to one-lap qualifying.

“Personally I’d be a big fan of it,” he said. “Everyone does one lap via a random order or something. That would be my wish.”

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