Just one day after the Grand Prix Drivers Association (GPDA) released a damning statement in regards to the political structure of the sport, F1 has found itself hamstrung once again. Following an anti-climatic and uninspiring qualifying session in Australia – which debuted the brand new for 2016 elimination format – teams, fans and drivers have lobbied for a change back to the 2015 rules. However, a lack of unanimity has stopped such a change from happening.
F1 is left with egg on its face once again, as Bahrain will play host to a decidedly below par qualifying event.
The crumb of comfort for the majority of fans watching Saturday’s session unfold was that, by the end of the week, the idea would be scrapped. Elimination qualifying, placed alongside the similarly flawed aggregate qualifying or double points in the F1 regulatory skip.
Many thought that Sky Sports F1’s Martin Brundle had rightly predicted the storyline during the session itself; “Do you remember that crazy qualifying format that only lasted one race?”
For changes to be made to the sport, ubiquitous approval is needed. Each and every team must agree and then the governing body must also support the same view. Despite mass condemnation for the shambolic system on show in Melbourne, Force India’s Bob Fernley did admit that he thought the first two sections of qualifying – Q1 and Q2 – worked well.
Albeit indicating that Force India would back the majority if they were alone in dissenting, it all started to unravel from there. While the teams eventually agreed to change, it has emerged that Bernie Ecclestone and Jean Todt prevented a switch back to the 2015 format of qualifying. With the F1 Commission failing to approve even a change to Q3, next weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix will see the elimination format return, unchanged.
Suddenly, the GPDA’s reference to an “obsolete” political system that puts the future of the sport in “jeopardy” is put into context.
The decision, or lack of definitive verdict, is evidence of the significant imbalance of power present in F1. Despite nearly everyone declaring their hate for the system which failed to captivate, the majority opinion is over-ruled by a minority.
Terrifying, is the fact that what seems such an obvious decision to revert back to the 2015 qualifying format has fallen foul of gridlock in the F1 Commission. How can F1 expect to resolve the fundamental issues and develop a master-plan, if it is unable to act upon something this clear cut?
As a devoted, life-long fan of the sport, I will be tuning in next Saturday. The problem for the sport is that not everyone will think the same. Given the backlash and negativity surrounding a system which was seemingly bound for the dustbin, how can the sport justify itself to the casual fans on a Saturday afternoon. The casuals will simply watch something else.
Sunday saw one of the most exciting season opening races in years, but by Thursday, F1 has shot itself in the foot and lost all momentum…again.