FIA calls meeting to debate qualifying changes

The fate of the controversial elimination qualifying system is set to be decided by an FIA meeting that started in Melbourne’s race control building at 12pm today, and it could lead to a change as early as the next race in Bahrain.

The FIA has invited the 11 team managers to attend. They have been told to represent the views of their teams rather than personal views, and that they can bring their team principals along as well if they so wish. Bernie Ecclestone is not represented in the meeting, although he has made his views clear to team bosses by phone.

The two most likely scenarios for Bahrain are scrapping the whole system, or the more likely option of a ‘hybrid’ of the old and new systems.

Several weeks ago the same group of team managers agreed a revision to the elimination system that involved Q3 running to a traditional format, with no eliminations and all the drivers able to run at the end, as in the past.

All parties agreed that it was a sensible solution, but FIA President Jean Todt was reluctant to change direction and not allow the full elimination procedure to go through, so it never went back to the F1 Commission in that format. This was despite the rules not having been officially written at that stage, which would have allowed some room for change before they became official.

Any decision taken today has to be agreed by all the teams. It will then go to a vote of the Strategy Group – the six top teams, Ecclestone and Todt – and then onto the F1 Commission and World Motor Sport Council, for formal ratification.

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