McLaren sporting director Gil de Ferran has warned against Formula 1 changing the current qualifying format after discussions within the Strategy Group.
An initial proposal was discussed that would see qualifying split into four sections rather than the current three, with four cars dropping out in each of the first three parts of the session and the top eight fighting it out for pole position in Q4. But de Ferran, who previously worked for BAR Honda in the mid-2000s, believes qualifying should remain unchanged.
“To be honest I quite like this qualifying format,” de Ferran said. “I think of everything that I have seen over the years and that’s a pretty wide range including Friday qualifying, Saturday qualifying, also the limited number of laps, single laps, one set of tires per weekend, the whole gamut. I think this is still my favorite type of qualifying.
“I think that the most important thing in qualifying, at least for me when I am watching, I want to know the fastest guy is on pole. As a driver, even I took a lot of pride in qualifying, I always wanted to be the fastest guy and I think this format is the best format to actually determine that so that when you’re on pole position it has some meaning and has some some value.
“Obviously with every format I have seen over the years there’s some positives, there’s some negatives but on balance when I step back and I look at this format it’s my preferred format.”
On the subject of changes, de Ferran says he would also be against the idea of a qualifying race, as he wants to see drivers allowed to push their cars to the absolute limit of performance over one lap.
“Personally I am a traditionalist, shall we say. I think qualifying is to determine the fastest guy and it’s a time of the weekend that you don’t have to worry about the brakes, you don’t have to worry about the fuel, you don’t have to worry about saving your tires or anything like that. You just push like mad and do the best lap time that you can.
“I find that interesting. I always found that interesting, even as a young fan because before I was a driver and before I worked in the sport I was a fan and to be honest I am still a fan. I love it. I am a traditionalist in the sense I like qualifying to determine the fastest guy and I like the race being a standalone sort of thing.
“I think it’s important that we don’t commoditize the races. I think winning a grand prix has a lot of meaning. If you can call yourself a grand prix winner, I think that carries a lot of weight and I think we must preserve that value.”