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New F1 elimination qualifying format delayed until Spanish GP

Snapshot: Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone says the new format will not be ready for the debut race at Australia.

The Formula One Management (FOM), owned by F1 honcho Bernie Ecclestone is leaving no stone unturned to make the adrenaline pumping sports more interesting. Amidst the call for changing various rules, car designs and formats, the FIA has introduced a new qualifying pattern, loosely based on the format used in the MotoGP, F1 counterpart of the motorcycle racing.

The new format suggests that instead of eliminating the slowest cars after each qualifying session (3 to be precise), the elimination will start 7 minutes into the game. Subsequently, after every 90 seconds, slowest cars will be eliminated, leaving 15 cars on the grid for the Q2. The same will continue in the Q2 and Q1, until 2 drivers are left for the final 90 seconds.

Bernie Ecclestone made it public that the new qualifying format "wasn't his idea" and while he wanted to shuffle things, he wasn't ready to fiddle with the current qualifying format. But now that Bernie came in sync with the FIA and gave a go ahead to the format, to his bad luck, the new software isn't ready yet. The SW can't be deployed for the first race slated to happen from 18-20th March in Australia.

"My guys who do the timing said: 'Mr E, we don't want to be put in the position because we don't think we can get it done properly in time'," said Bernie Ecclestone. "It's not quite that easy," Ecclestone, 85, said. "You've got all the graphics to go on the screen. If you're going to try and explain it to the public properly, it's not just a case of 'OK, the guy was the last one, bye-bye'. You can't just do that."

While it was on the teams to test the system and spend next few days before the race to make sure there was no unintended consequences of the software, it was the Bernie's FOM that discovered the problem. "We'll have to deal with it. I've told the FIA this and asked them what they'd like to do with it but the bottom line is there's not a lot they can do with it because we do all the timekeeping. So, that's it," said Bernie.

Bernie initially pitched for a different format, "what I've said was, if the guy that's on pole won the last race, for example, we'd have to come up with some sort of a format to say in the end he starts 10th. And the guy who was third in the last race starts maybe eighth or something like that." He adds, "and then you will find you get a whole mix-up of the grid and some of the guys who don't get as much TV coverage will be up at the front.

He said the teams were opposed to this idea. "People at the time that don't want any change at all thought: 'Well, Ecclestone's going to push through something so we might as well agree with that rather than have something that is a bit more drastic'," he said. "Because it could happen that the guy on pole doesn't get through the pack."

Here's what the new qualifying will be like -

Q1

- 16 minutes
- After 7 minutes, slowest driver eliminated
- Slowest driver eliminated every 90 seconds thereafter
- 7 drivers eliminated, 15 progress to Q2

Q2

- 15 minutes
- After 6 minutes, slowest driver eliminated
- Slowest driver eliminated every 90 seconds
- 7 drivers eliminated, 8 progress to Q3

Q3

- 14 minutes
- After 5 minutes, slowest driver eliminated
- Slowest driver eliminated every 90 seconds
- 2 drivers left in final 90 seconds

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