F1 to return to 2015 qualifying format

Thu Apr 7, 2016 6:06pm EDT
 
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By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One will revert to its 2015 qualifying format at next week's Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai and for the remainder of the season, the governing FIA said in a statement on Thursday after backing down in the face of opposition from teams.

The change will be put to the F1 Commission and World Motor Sport Council to be rubber-stamped, bringing an end to a failed experiment to shake up starting grids with elimination qualifying.

The statement said International Automobile Federation (FIA) president Jean Todt and the sport's commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone had accepted the move "in the interests of the Championship".

The teams had earlier shown their unity in a letter to Ecclestone and Todt, calling for the 2015 system to be reinstated and rejecting an aggregate qualifying proposal put forward by the FIA.

With unanimity needed for any change to the 2016 regulations, the apparent impasse had threatened to ensure the unpopular new format continued in China for a third successive race unless one side backed down.

The 26-member F1 commission groups the 11 teams, commercial rights holder and governing body as well as other stakeholders.

This year's qualifying system, which saw drivers knocked out at timed intervals during the three sessions, was approved hurriedly before the start of the season to add excitement.

However, drivers were eliminated while sitting in the garages in the final stage rather than battling for pole on track as in the past, triggering a backlash on social media.   Continued...

 
Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone speaks to the media at the paddock area ahead of the Russian F1 Grand Prix in Sochi, Russia, October 9, 2015. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov