How will Formula One's 'new era' work?

24 Feb 2016 16:23

The FIA has announced a revamped qualifying system which is set to be introduced at the first race of the upcoming Formula One season.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at the format in detail, as well as new measures designed by the Strategy Group in a bid to spice up the show.

So, how will qualifying work?

The revamped format will still be split into three sessions (Q1, Q2 and Q3). The opening session will last for 16 minutes, and after the first seven minutes, the slowest drivers will be eliminated from qualifying at 90-second intervals until 15 remain.

Those left will all progress to Q2, which runs for 15 minutes, and the elimination process will begin again after six minutes off the session until eight drivers are left standing. The same format will be repeated in Q3, a 14-minute session - to determine who starts on pole. The knockout phase will start after five minutes.

Will it make a difference?

It depends on who you listen to. British rookie Jolyon Palmer is not expecting the new format to make a "massive difference" to the overall show, whereas Pat Symonds, chief technical officer at Williams, believes it could lead to more exciting races.

Symonds said: "It has been done at short notice and so I think all of us are going to make mistakes. That may mean cars are out of position, with quicker cars a bit further back, and as we all know, that has given us some great races in the past."

And where do the sporting regulations stand for 2017?

The deadline to determine Formula One's so-called new era had been set for the end of this month, but following Tuesday's talks in Geneva, and a failure to reach a definitive conclusion , F1's Commission has agreed to postpone that until April 30. However, new bodywork regulations, including wider tyres and bigger wings, have been adopted in a bid to make the cars more exciting for 2017.

Will we see driver-head protection soon?

Yes. The F1 Commission confirmed its intention of introducing some form of cockpit protection from 2017 onwards. The "Halo" concept - pioneered by Mercedes - remains the preferred option, but the FIA revealed other designs, such as transparent cockpit protection, are still being evaluated. Most of the drivers are for it following a number of high-profile incidents in recent years, but not all. Indeed, Nico Hulkenberg said: "It's a personal thing. I just don't like a closed cockpit. For me it should be open."

And is there anything else from the Geneva meeting that we need to know about?

While the revamped qualifying format has stolen all the headlines, the F1 Commission also agreed to introduce a new " Driver of the Day" award to encourage fan interaction. The gong will be voted for by punters during the race, with a prize - yet to be confirmed - presented to the winning driver afterwards. Sceptics have already predicted this is likely to become a popularity contest rather than anything more substantial.