With Formula One's new owners Liberty Media undertaking several steps to increase the popularity of the sport by bringing it 'closer to the fans,' this report by Auto Motor und Sport, which hints at changing the qualifying format, comes as no surprise.
This reported move to change the structure of qualifying comes almost two years after former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone's own attempts at an overhaul. He introduced time limits for drivers to set the fastest laps with the slowest driver eliminated every 90 seconds, leaving the fastest two drivers battling for pole position at the end of Q3. This revised knockout system was ditched after dissent from all corners of the Formula One community.
This new proposal, if successfully implemented, should affect the current engine and tyre regulations. The sprint race proposal reportedly will have no tyre or fuel regulations to ensure that the teams push their cars to the limit both mechanically and strategically. The current limit of three engines will need closer scrutiny since sprint races along with revised tyre and fuel strategies will add to the difficulty that the teams are now facing.
One successful example of shortening a game format can be seen in cricket where the introduction of Twenty20 internationals has proven to be a magnet for younger fans. It should be noted that T20 games are an addition to the sport and not a modification of pre-existing formats such as Test matches or One-Day Internationals. There is a danger that adding a sprint race next to a qualifying session to determine the sprint race grid positions on a Saturday might be too much for some viewers. Besides clogging up the weekend, it could also add a logistical burden on the teams, and a physical burden on the drivers.
However, it remains to be seen exactly how the new format would be implemented. And until then it may be too early to judge whether this move will benefit F1.
What are your views on this proposal? Will it spice up Saturday qualifying? Please join in the discussion in the comments section below.