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British GP Qualifying

At Silverstone, Max Mosley talked about the possibility of changing the rules yet again by reducing the final qualifying session from 20 minutes to 15. This is what he had to say: “It would be 15 minutes of non-stop action. But whether the teams want to do that, I don’t know.”

To my mind, this illustrates the condescending attitude of the FIA towards the fans. The assumption is that all we are interested in is “non-stop action”, like teenagers with attention deficit disorder. Well, I have news for Mr Mosley: F1 fans have to be amongst the most knowledgeable of all sports fans. The sport is extremely complicated, even without the constant rule changes introduced by the FIA, and yet every F1 fan understands and appreciates it. They wouldn’t be fans otherwise.

It is about time that the FIA ate some humble pie by rescinding some of the most ridiculous rule changes ever made by a governing body. So the one-lap qualifying rule was a complete flop? If he’d listened to anyone who knew the sport, Max would have understood that we don’t want a lottery – we want to see drivers getting the utmost from their cars in a battle for grid positions. And we don’t think it’s fair that one blown engine can ruin a driver’s chances for the GP. Let them battle it out over two days of qualifying as they used to, swap engines when necessary and recover from momentary mistakes.

Jenson Button

Yes, it’s true that, in those bad old days, we had to sit and watch an empty track for three quarters of an hour before the cars came out to give it everything. But here’s the thing, Max – we didn’t mind. We understood what was happening and were prepared to wait for those incredible final minutes when the best drivers in the world showed us just how fast they really were.

You can say to me that the last three minutes of qualifying at Silverstone were as tense and involving as one could hope for. Three minutes? You mean all those rule changes boil down to this – three minutes of real competition? It sounds very familiar.

And let us not forget that there were two very capable drivers who were excluded from those minutes by bad luck in the first session. Does it not occur to anyone that Button’s and Trulli’s fans might be a bit disgruntled that their drivers were given no chance of a realistic grid spot through a silly rule that reduces F1 to a lottery?

Many of the rule changes of recent years have been made to make F1 more of a “spectacle” for the benefit of TV audiences. Time and again, the FIA introduces changes in an attempt to make things more competitive and exciting. Yet the net result is confusion to the casual viewer and irritation to the real fans. We really don’t need this constant meddling that merely makes things worse.

This is what Ferrari’s Ross Brawn had to say on the matter: “Too many changes confuse the public and are bad for F1.” How true. Let’s have one more rule change to put things back the way they were and then never touch them again. And let the FIA get back to its real business of designing an engine and chassis formula that makes sense and attracts the greatest number of competitors.

F1 is the pinnacle of motor sport; it was gripping before anyone had ever heard of Mr Mosely and it will remain so only if we allow the drivers a decent chance to prove themselves. And that means qualifying sessions that give everyone a fair crack of the whip.

8 Responses to “British GP Qualifying”

  1. “let the FIA get back to its real business of designing an engine and chassis formula that makes sense and attracts the greatest number of competitors”

    So true, give us a logical formula which truly represents the peak of (four wheeled) motorsport, set the rules so as to be as fair as possible and then just keep an eye out for unfair advantage. How hard can it be? :p

  2. Exactly, Mad, how hard can it be? Too hard for the FIA, it seems. But then, they want to do a thousand contradictory things as well – such as make pots of money, sell TV rights, fiddle with practice in the name of spectacle, ruin the circuits in the name of safety and boss everyone else around. It’s a tough job being a big deal…

  3. Hey, could you two keep the chatter down, or at least point to where they sell beer from up here? All I want is to hear loud thunder, smell blue smoke and burnt rubber, get some rays and down a few. And put them sail-phones away too.

  4. Ooops, sorry, Way. Didn’t realize you could hear us. ;)

  5. At last a sane voice on this blog. :-)

  6. My guess for the FIA’s next move is guided missiles during qualification fired from car to car…

  7. It may need to be spiced up for the American market, Mad. Although one of our bloggers thinks that Nascar is very downmarket compared with F1.

  8. Whilst it’s true that F1 has struggled to accumulate a fanbase in the States, I think that has now been achieved. I have been impressed, not only with the numbers of people over here who know about F1, but also with the extent of their knowledge. Like F1 fans everywhere, they understand the sport and enjoy it in spite of the politics.

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