Russian GP | Ferrari lock out the front row as Vettel takes pole

Sebastian Vettel secures pole position at the 2017 Russian Grand Prix.

Ever since Russia first gained a championship Grand Prix in 2014, only Mercedes drivers have reached the chequered flag in first position during qualifying or the race. But that all came to an end today, as Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen both out-qualified the Silver Arrows to claim Ferrari’s first front row lock out for nine years.

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Chinese Grand Prix | Lap records galore as Hamilton takes pole

Record-setting pole for Lewis Hamilton at the Chinese Grand Prix.

A two-team fight with all four drivers smashing in flying laps ended with Lewis Hamilton posting a Shanghai International Circuit lap record for pole. Edging out Vettel and Bottas to take his sixth consecutive pole in Formula One in dramatic fashion. 

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Japanese GP | Rosberg tops qualifying for third straight Suzuka pole

Rosberg completes Japanese Grand Prix clean sweep in qualifying.

Fastest in practice and qualifying, Rosberg remains on top in Suzuka to claim third straight Japanese Grand Prix pole. Narrowly edging Hamilton for the top spot, as McLaren faltered at Honda’s home and Ferrari bettered the ‘Bulls.

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Spanish GP | Hamilton betters Rosberg’s qualifying run for pole

Pole position at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya secured by Lewis Hamilton.

Qualifying in Spain has high influence on the race in Barcelona, where Lewis Hamilton will start from pole position. Nico Rosberg had taken provisional pole as Hamilton locked up, but a 1:22.0 gave Hamilton his 52nd career pole as Red Bull take third and fourth.

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Lewis Hamilton takes pole for the Australian Grand Prix as elimination qualifying falls flat

Lewis Hamilton makes history as the first man to secure pole position in Formula One’s new elimination qualifying format at the Australian Grand Prix.

History was in the making as Lewis Hamilton secured the first pole position of Formula One, 2016. Today’s pole is Lewis’ 50th in Formula One, but came in a session that fell flat as drivers’ and teams’ were not left with enough time to turn the cars around.

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Formula One Qualifying, it’s not broken so let’s break it?

The Sport Space’s Formula One writer Kyle Archer takes a look at the recent F1 Commission’s decision to look into changing the qualifying format.

Formula One fans and rule makers always seem to be looking for a way to make the sport more ‘interesting’ again and create closer racing. With this leading to the seemingly endless discussions on how to make the 2017 cars 5-seconds per lap quicker. But now, while some progress is being made on that and the final deadline has been pushed back again, attention has turned to how they can change qualifying to spice up Formula One with a bit of unpredictability. Or should that be spice Formula One up with a sprinkling of traffic, confused viewers and more steward investigations?

When the first line from the FIA on the Formula One commission’s Tuesday meeting in Geneva came out saying the Saturday format could be changing to introduce an elimination based style qualifying I thought it could be great. There can be more cars on track throughout a qualifying phase and it could make the drivers push harder on each lap to ensure they are not eliminated earlier than they should.

But after a little bit of time, and the initial impact softened, I realised just how this could actually impact the day and not necessarily for the better. For there are many downsides to the proposed elimination qualifying format and that’s not including the prospect of it being introduced for the start of the 2016 season. Which is next month.

The format currently in use for Formula One has been around since 2006 and in my view has nothing wrong with it enough to drastically change the format. There are 3 sessions, the slowest get out of the way for the faster cars as the session goes on till it boils down to a (possible) 10-man pole position shoot-out. And as the slower cars make way you have fights to beat the drop, the occasional driver out of position after a poor timed lap, a break down or a mistake and then they have to recover from it either in the rest of the session or in the race on Sunday from further down the grid than they would expect to be.

And in truth, this isn’t really going to be changing with the proposed new format. The only difference is the drivers will start to peel off the track earlier, giving the teams less screen time for sponsors and less circuit time for fans.

Say McLaren-Honda has another poor season or Manor and Sauber are uncompetitive again and they are all slugging it out at the back, how will this help them? How will it see teams like Manor attract new sponsors for their pretty bare livery?

Manor Racing MRT05 Reveal photo - Photo credit- Manor Racing Team

And while the slower cars peel back into the pits after being eliminated in the 90-second intervals, this could lead to other drivers being impeded by traffic and loosing time. Would the driver still running be able to get another lap in in time? Or what if they are held up and get eliminated? This is where the possibility of more steward investigations comes in too and that is actually one of the things Formula One fans vocalise their displeasure towards – too many investigations. But in terms of the investigation, only one side would be affected anyway, the driver already knocked out and not the driver that could be knocked out. Is that fair justice?

Is there enough time between now and qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix on March 19 to work out how this scenario could unfold? Well in fact they don’t even have till March 19 to figure that out. They have until March 4 to carry out any further analysis before plans can be put forward to the World Motor Sport Council for ratification.

Going back to my earlier point of the possibility of more cars on track, this clearly would not be the case as well. I say this because yes, there could be more on track for the seven or six or five minute phases where no one is eliminated but once the clock starts chopping drivers off the track, the track will get quieter and quieter. Especially in the proposed new Q3 where it can boil down to just two drivers out on track (or maybe even one should the other driver brake down or crash?). Is this value for money for spectators? Could this lead to a straight Mercedes fight each weekend for pole rather than a sudden shock lap from a Ferrari? And don’t forget, Q3 would also no longer start with 10 drivers but instead eight.

“The idea really is that it will be the same as qualifying in wet conditions,” said F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone. “Maybe one or two of the hot-shoes aren’t going to make it [to the front]. So we won’t see the obvious on the front of the grid.”

Sergio Perez - US GP 2015 - Copyright Joe McGowan

Won’t see the obvious on the front of the grid? That’s potentially true, but at the same time F1 cars tend to produce their best qualifying times during the first two or three laps of a tyres life. And I can’t see teams sending their cars out on supersoft or even the new ultrasoft tyres with a high fuel load to carry out long runs…

Make sure to leave your views on the proposed qualifying plans below and let us know if you are for or against their introduction.

The basis of the new elimination format:

Q1

  • 16 minutes
  • After 7 minutes, slowest driver eliminated
  • Slowest driver eliminated every 1 minute 30 seconds thereafter until the chequered flag
  • 7 drivers eliminated, 15 progress to Q2

Q2

  • 15 minutes
  • After 6 minutes, slowest driver eliminated
  • Slowest driver eliminated every 1 minute 30 seconds thereafter until the chequered flag
  • 7 drivers eliminated, 8 progress to Q3

Q3

  • 14 minutes
  • After 5 minutes, slowest driver eliminated
  • Slowest driver eliminated every 1 minute 30 seconds thereafter until the chequered flag
  • 2 drivers left in final 1 minute 30 seconds

The final elimination in each session occurs at the chequered flag – not when time is up.

The Sport Space

The Sport Space’s Formula One writer Kyle Archer takes a look at the recent F1 Commission’s decision to look into changing the qualifying format.

Formula One fans and rule makers always seem to be looking for a way to make the sport more ‘interesting’ again and create closer racing. With this leading to the seemingly endless discussions on how to make the 2017 cars 5-seconds per lap quicker. But now, while some progress is being made on that and the final deadline has been pushed back again, attention has turned to how they can change qualifying to spice up Formula One with a bit of unpredictability. Or should that be spice Formula One up with a sprinkling of traffic, confused viewers and more steward investigations?

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Rosberg rockets Q3 to edge Hamilton to pole position for the Brazilian Grand Prix

Pole position for the Brazilian Grand Prix secured by Nico Rosberg.

After being under Hamilton’s thumb during Q1 and Q2, Rosberg found the edge in the final qualifying stage to claim his fifth pole in a row. Hamilton himself was chasing pole number 50 but will have to search for his first Brazilian Grand Prix victory from second on the grid.

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