After the debacle of last weekend’s Australian Grand Prix qualifying session, teams voted to revert back to old qualifying format from 2015. But it seems that F1 has changed it’s mind again and will retain the new for 2016 qualifying format as debuted in Melbourne and will be reviewed after the Bahrain GP.
F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has said that teams didn’t know what they were doing in Melbourne and that was half the problem. To me, this shows what a bad idea it was to implement changes so quickly, teams didn’t have enough time to understand the new system fully. Beta testing a new format in front of a live international audience on TV is never a good idea. However this is typical of FOM in recent years.
At the Australian GP there were issues in all three sessions. We saw drivers sitting in the pits as their time ticked down and Albert Park has a quick lap time compared to many on the calendar. The only way I can see a timed knockout system working is if we had tyres that can last the full length of the session and all cars have to be out on track for the whole session, pitting, changing tyres and refueling takes too long.
There were also issues with tyre allocation, Jenson Button said he stayed in the pits in Australia’s Q2 session because of the lack of tyre availability. So we need to change the way tyres are allocated as well, maybe have a separate allocation of tyres for qualifying, a set of medium/hard tyres per session, maybe?
From what I have been reading, this decision, should it actually happen is based upon commercial interests and not sporting interests. Which seems crazy to me, the fans hated it, many fans, myself included disliked the idea of the new format, yet we, as fans are being ignored again. Formula 1 as a sport claims to be listening to it’s fans, but I see very little evidence of that claim based on their actions.
Here’s another example of how FOM is alienating fans of the sport. It has been announced that from 2019 through 2024, live races will be exclusively on Sky Sports with highlights and the British Grand Prix shown on “free-to-air” television. As to what the free-to-air channel will be, we do not know at this time.
All but the most ardent of F1 fans will not be willing to spend extra money to watch F1. And it’s not exactly cheap, first of all, customers will need a ROKU based NOW box for £25, which connects through your broadband internet connection. It will then cost £6.99 to watch to race, qualifying and practice will be £6.99 extra per day. There’s is a weekly option for £10.99 which would allow you to watch all sessions. There is also a monthly option for £31.99, however, this cost does include all seven Sky Sports channels.
F1 viewership has dropped due to half of the races only been shown live on pay television, so this decision doesn’t make too much sense. Logically, people will simply be turned off the sport, to me, watching F1 is not worth the money it will cost to subscribe. It honestly seems that Bernie Ecclestone and CVC are out to milk F1 as much as possible and to hell with the fans and the long term future of the sport.