F1 has decided to trial a tweaked qualifying format at two races this year. As previously reported by Autosport, the first trial is taking place at May’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola.
In a bid to reduce the number of tyres used at grands prix, the experiment involves reducing the number of Pirelli sets available to each driver from 13 to 11.
In qualifying, drivers will then be forced to use hard tyres in Q1, mediums in Q2 and then softs in Q3. If any of the sessions are declared wet, then the tyre choice will be free.
In total, drivers will have access to three sets of hard tyres, four sets of mediums and four sets of softs for the entire race weekend. It should ensure that drivers use a wider variety of tyres through the race weekend, so there is less waste.
While it must be stressed the exercise is aimed at making the championship more sustainable and not necessarily to improve the spectacle, the new format won’t be pursued if its two trials during the 2023 season prove detrimental to the show.
Red Bull’s world champion Verstappen is sceptical about any tinkering with F1’s popular qualifying format.
He reckons qualifying on the harder compounds in Q1 might prove quite tricky given their slower warm-up, especially in colder conditions.
“I hope it’s not going to be cold in Imola, otherwise it’s going to be quite tricky,” Verstappen said.
“It’s the same for everyone but I don’t think we need to actually do these kinds of things in qualifying. I don’t really see the benefit of it.
“It’s better if we make sure that all the cars are close to each other and more competitive instead of spicing things up in that way, which I think is probably for the show.”
Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18
Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images
Apart from the sustainability aspect, the Dutchman’s team-mate Perez agreed that no changes are needed from a show perspective.
“I think we don’t need that when you see the qualifying we had [in Bahrain], how close everything was,” Perez said. “We do not really need to change anything.
“But we’ll see, we’ll see once we try it but I don’t think there’s a need to change something that is working well.”
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc added: “Yeah, I don’t feel there was a need for change but let’s try and see.”
Having six sets available for qualifying and just five for free practice and the race means the tyre reduction will also have a knock-on effect on practice sessions.
Early analysis from engineers suggests that…
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