PARIS: Formula One’s controversial and widely-panned new qualifying system will remain in place at the Bahrain Grand Prix despite it being slammed as “crap” by the sport’s commercial ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone.
The elimination system was introduced at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne last week but ended in farce as spectators were left staring at an empty circuit in the closing sections of the qualifying session.
Former world champion Niki Lauda said it was the “biggest nonsense” he had ever seen while Ecclestone called it “crap”.
However, www.autosport.com claimed on Thursday (Friday in Manila) that the format will remain unaltered in Bahrain before a full review takes place after the April 3 event.
“They’re going to do what I proposed, which is leave things as they are for this race in Bahrain,” Ecclestone told autosport.com. “After that we will then have a good look and decide whether what was done was the right thing to do, the wrong thing to do, does it need modifying, does it need scrapping?”
Thursday’s decision was taken following a meeting of Formula One’s Strategy Group made up of teams, the sport’s ruling body, the FIA (International Automobile Federation), Formula One Management, promoters, sponsors and other partners.
“As nobody knows what the right thing to do is, we’ve said we’ll stay where we are and have a look after this race,” added Ecclestone. “Then two races in we’ll see, as it was a prototype, what was right or wrong. The teams didn’t understand what they were doing either, which didn’t help at all.”
On Wednesday (Thursday in Manila), former world champions Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel led calls for a radical rethink in Formula One, insisting that controversial changes were threatening the sport’s very future.
The two drivers put their names to an open letter from the Grand Prix Drivers Association (GPDA) describing technical and sporting changes are “disruptive.”
They also blasted the world championship decision-making progress as “obselete and ill-structured.”