LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One learned a lesson from the qualifying fiasco that overshadowed the opening races of the season in Australia and Bahrain, Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams said on Monday.
“I think that we have learned that we need to take more time to consider the proposals that come to us,” she told reporters at a breakfast meeting after her team published their annual results.
“You don’t want to play out scenarios like that in the public arena. They should be done behind the scenes. I do think we’ve learned the lesson.”
Formula One started the season with a new elimination format that was put to teams and accepted only weeks before the March 20 opener in Melbourne.
The aim was to shake up the starting grid, and provide more excitement during the Saturday session, but it was immediately declared a failure by both teams and fans who made their opposition evident on social media.
Instead of producing a shoot-out for pole at the end of the third and final phase, drivers were eliminated while sitting in the garages with minutes remaining on the clock and nothing happening on track.
The decision to revert, from this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai, was taken last week when teams rejected a compromise proposal.
International Automobile Federation (FIA) president Jean Todt and the sport’s commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone said they had accepted the move “in the interests of the Championship”.
They also welcomed a proposal by the teams to have a “global assessment of the format of the weekend for 2017”.
Williams expressed relief at the outcome.
“It’s obviously what the fans want...it’s certainly what our partners want,” she said.
“I think it will give us a period of stability during which we can actually sit down with time to properly analyze what a potentially new 2017 qualifying system could look like. I think that’s what we need.”
Ecclestone told reporters in Bahrain that there had been tens of different suggestions about how to improve qualifying, and came up with another that would involve a Saturday race to determine Sunday’s grid order.
“We’re looking at all these things, which would be for next year obviously,” he told Sky Sports television.
“We’ve made a big enough muck-up to do that for this year so we must not do that again.”
Editing by Ed Osmond