New qualifying format ‘horrible’ – Alonso

Sun, 23 July 2023, 10:00

Jul.23 (GMM) The tweaked qualifying format trialled this weekend, and set to be repeated again later this season, may not survive the post-Hungary debut.

“It’s been horrible,” said Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso.

Plenty of others in the F1 paddock agree that taking away two sets of tyres per driver, and compelling certain compounds choices in the three phases of qualifying, may be a failed experiment.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says it has been “strange”.

“I generally think that experimenting with a new qualifying format in the middle of the season is not a good idea,” he added.

Wolff said saving tyres for environmental reasons is a good idea, although two sets per driver “doesn’t change much”.

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz commented: “Practice was very boring because there are no tyres and we can’t drive.

“We got here on Wednesday and on Friday and Saturday we couldn’t drive. So it doesn’t work for me.”

His boss Frederic Vasseur, however, was reluctant to use the format change as a reason for Ferrari to complain.

“The new format has nothing to do with it,” he said after Charles Leclerc qualified sixth. “It’s the same for everyone.

“Alfa Romeo hasn’t brought any updates yet they took a big step forward. It’s a lesson for everyone to optimise the package as best as possible.”

As for Aston Martin’s Alonso, he agrees with Wolff that mid-season rule changes should be avoided.

“When you change the height of the net, or the size of the basketball ring or the soccer ball in the middle of the championship, it’s always something that’s not pretty,” he told Spanish reporters in Hungary.

Alonso thinks Pirelli’s recent tyre construction change has also helped some teams but hurt others.

“Have some teams gained half a second? Or have half a second been taken from some teams?” he wondered.

“Alfa Romeo haven’t overtaken anyone. When we get to Spa and Alfa Romeo is still in front, then we’ll talk. This is one qualifying.

“I don’t want to make an excuse with the tyres but I think Red Bull can’t be very happy either,” Alonso added. “They were first and second in every session and practice until Silverstone.

“I think they haven’t been first in any practice here,” he said. “Now they don’t even take pole position and Checo (Perez) is fighting to be in Q3.

“So there are certain teams that have clearly lost performance with the new tyres,” Alonso added.

“Now, not having tyres for practice has been very bad for the show,” he continued. “If you pay 400 or 500 euros and the cars don’t run, I suppose it’s very good for pollution but for the public it’s definitely not so good.”

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