MANAMA: Formula One chiefs will hold further crisis talks to try and resolve the problems with the panned “progressive elimination” qualifying format with former world champion Sebastian Vettel comparing bosses to ice cream salesmen.
The new system, which ended in fiasco without a car on the track at the season opening Australian Grand Prix, was widely slammed again on Thursday (Friday in Manila) ahead of this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
“I am as disappointed as probably anyone that I know that we didn’t go back,” said four-time world champion Vettel of Ferrari, referring to the sport’s failure to ditch the system and revert to the previous format.
Vettel and other top drivers were unified in calling for changes in the sport’s decision-making processes and management.
He was notably disappointed that the teams’ decision to dump a system that failed was not upheld.
“Put it this way,” he said. “If you sell vanilla ice cream, but everybody who comes to your shop is asking for chocolate ice cream, the next day you open, you expect to sell chocolate ice cream, but instead you just sell vanilla ice cream again.”
“Usually you do what your clients would like you to do, but you are not really doing the job if you do the exact opposite. It’s something that we can’t be proud of. If everybody is against something and you still decide for it, well, qualifying is just one example that something is not right,” Vettel added.
Vettel and others believe the qualifying fiasco highlights all that is wrong in F1, as the drivers’ declared in an open letter last week.
“I think the point we are trying to make is very clear so I don’t think there’s much to add,” he said. “It’s just to rethink what’s currently happening. It’s clear that if we write a letter, it doesn’t change overnight because it’s very difficult to give proposals.”
“We didn’t give any proposals. We made it clear that there’s something that’s not right and something has to change,” Vettel added.
Same results as Melbourne
On a day of widespread criticism of the sport’s management, Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff added that he expected this weekend’s qualifying hour to be much the same as that seen in Melbourne.
“I think Saturday is going to be about the same as we had in Melbourne,” he said. “And then we’ll see what the consequences are going to be – and whether the FIA [International Automobile Federation] then decides to change the rules,” he said.
“There will be another meeting on Sunday once they are all here [in Bahrain],” Wolff added.
It is understood that Wolff was referring to key men Bernie Ecclestone, the veteran commercial boss, and the president of the ruling body, the FIA, Jean Todt.
Both were absent in Australia where the teams voted to ditch the new system, a decision that was not carried through because of a failure to gain 100-percent support from the ruling body.
Defending three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton said he was not surprised at the failure to ditch the system that flopped in Melbourne.
“I wasn’t really surprised just because of the way F1 is,” he said. “There is never anything like a clear-cut decision. It is back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.”
“One minute it is one way, one minute it is another way, the next minute it is another way. So, when it went back to normal — and you know sometimes, when you get lost and you go back to where you started,” he said.
“But it was interesting, considering the fans were so unhappy with how it went, that we have stuck with it,” Hamilton added.