Saturday had the introduction of a new qualifying system in F1, the first change since the knockout format was introduced in 2006.
The new system keeps the knockout format, but takes it a step further: drivers, after a certain number of minutes in each session, are eliminated every 90 seconds.
On paper, and without thinking in too much detail about it, the changes looked promising.
It would mean the drivers would be under constant pressure to deliver and could lead to mixed up grids.
In reality, though, it failed. Miserably.
Q1 started off in dramatic fashion, with all drivers taking to the track early on to ensure they made it through to Q2.
But, in the same session, we saw the flaws with the system. There seemed to be a few cases of teams not understanding the rules about when the driver was eliminated.
A number of drivers started a lap that could’ve seen them safe too late. The only time you can finish your lap after elimination is if you’re the last driver left in that session.
So straight away, we have confusing rules. Can a driver finish a lap or not?
And while Q1 seemed okay – and would improve as teams worked out the session – it soon went downhill.
It became apparent who was going to be eliminated before they were. Since there is only a set number of tyres available to each driver, they have to manage how to use them.
And on tyres that can’t do many laps, drivers won’t do many laps.
Q3, where eight cars compete for pole position, was even worse.
Pole position was decided with four minutes left of the session. Four minutes of the session left where no one was on track.
Qualifying was over. Before the session ended. That was it. Done.
The new session had potential. It failed to live up to that potential.
There’s only one solution for qualifying now, and that is to go back to the 2015 format mid-season, a bit like the 2005 aggregate qualifying system.
That was stopped mid-season. Now it’s time for the elimination style qualifying to be dropped too.