The FIA has rubber-stamped proposals to alter the Formula 1 qualifying format ahead of this weekend’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
It was revealed in February that adjustments for qualifying were likely for the 2014 season to alleviate issues that had arisen with the Q3 spectacle. F1 team managers met with the governing body during pre-season testing in Bahrain last month to discuss concerns some drivers would continue to sit out the final segment of qualifying to save tires for this season’s races.
Last year, it was common to see some drivers strategically fail to set a time in Q3 in order to start grands prix on newer tires than rivals further up the grid. The FIA has now approved plans to give every driver that makes it through to Q3 an extra set of Pirelli’s option tire, which must be returned to the tire supplier after the session.
Additionally, Q1 has been shortened by two minutes (from 20 to 18) and Q3 extended by two minutes (from 10 to 12) to allow drivers to complete an extra run in the final session.
All drivers that make it through to Q3 will now start the races on the set of tires they use to set their best time in Q2. Previously, every driver that made it to Q3 had to start the race on the tires they used in that session.
F1 teams hope these rule changes will remove any strategic advantage to skipping the final segment of qualifying and thus improve the Saturday show for fans.