One of the big talking points from the opening Grand Prix of the season was the new qualifying process. It was a total disaster and teams agreed unanimously that it was to not going to be repeated. That hasn’t happened though and the same elimination style process is going to be used again this weekend in Bahrain.
Drivers aren’t happy about it with Sebastian Vettel saying, “It’s something we can’t be proud of.” Lewis Hamilton added that it’s not just about the teams and “the most important thing is the fans were unhappy.”
It’s hard to work out just what is going on, surely we can’t end up with a situation where we’re going to end up with an empty track again. Teams put preserving tyres when it became clear they just weren’t going to improve their position on the grid. That’s what was predicted to happen, it’s what happened, yet we’re still stuck with it.
It seems we have FIA President Jean Todt to blame for the situation. Word is he wasn’t prepared to be told what to do by the teams and only offered the options of a slightly different format with just the third session running as it did last year or carrying on with the disastrous new format totally unchanged. Those proposed changes weren’t what teams had agreed to in Australia so they weren’t going to vote for them.
All definitely is not well with several F1 drivers writing an open letter calling for the way the sport is governed to change. Sebastian Vettel, a director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, said that letter was sent to “question our current situation and decision-making and hopefully improve that in the future.”
Pleasant words but the letter itself wasn’t so kind as it called the sport’s decision-making process “obsolete and ill-structured.” Bernie Ecclestone didn’t get named but he is obviously responsible for a lot of the problems. Without change the fear is that the current way the sport is run “could jeopardise F1’s success”.
The letter comes after a series of controversial decisions such as the legendary double points, radio communication restrictions and problems with rules regarding turbo hybrid engines. The lack of F1 on terrestrial television from 2019 isn’t great news either. A six-year deal with Sky Sports has been signed.
Of course Bernie has had to chip in with his views and has accused the sport of “cheating” its fans with the poor quality entertainment that is on show. His theory is that F1 is like watching a Rolling Stones concert without Mick Jagger performing and the rest of the band can’t play their instruments (non-Rolling Stones fans can insert their own joke here).
In an interview with BBC Sport, Ecclestone reckoned that that letter from the drivers was “probably what their teams had told them to say.” As for the way F1 is governed, he says it’s nothing to do with him and blamed the FIA for the qualifying mess but thought the method used last year didn’t work either. He also called the new turbo hybrid engines a disaster. Not just because of the lack of noise but the fact it’s led to Mercedes dominating the sport because of the way they have adapted to the new engines. Of that, Ecclestone says, “It is unbelievable. but it is not F1.” He’s called for a return to the V8s to make the sport more entertaining.
That’s my look at what’s happening off the track. I’ll be back tomorrow to look at the action on the track. I’ll recap practice (which has been going well for Nico Rosberg), see just how qualifying went and look ahead to the race itself.