MANAMA (Reuters) - Formula One teams and stakeholders failed to agree a fix for the sport’s failed new qualifying format at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday and agreed instead to go away and consider a compromise by next Thursday.
“No decision has been made, we haven’t reached the conclusions on how we want to continue yet,” said Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff after an hour and a half long meeting at the Sakhir circuit that hosts the season’s second race.
Team bosses said various new formats were discussed, as well as staying with the current one, but there would be no going back to 2015 qualifying because both the governing FIA and commercial rights holder were opposed.
“It’s not on the table,” Wolff said of going back to the 2015 format, a move that the teams had proposed unanimously after the new system was panned on its debut in Australia on March 19.
Williams deputy-principal Claire Williams said there was a belief that “just going back to 2015 will create more confusion than is necessary.”
The new elimination format, which sees drivers knocked out at timed intervals during the three sessions, was introduced hurriedly before the start of the season in a bid to add excitement and shake up starting grids.
Instead, drivers have been eliminated while sitting in the garages in the final stage rather than battling for pole on track as in the past.
The situation has been a major talking point of the season so far, triggering uproar on social media and dominating much of the talk in the paddock.
“They (the FIA and Ecclestone) said that 2015 was not acceptable to them as it was not good enough. We have to just acknowledge that,” said Wolff, who added that teams felt the sport could not afford any more experiments.
Red Bull principal Christian Horner said a new proposal had been presented by the FIA but would not give details.
“It just needs a bit more investigation perhaps with an aggregate time of two laps rather than a single lap,” he told reporters.
He swerved a question about whether the situation was more to do with a ‘power play’ over who calls the shots in the increasingly-troubled sport.
“The bottom line is, if we don’t agree to a compromise then we are stuck with what we’ve got and I think everyone agrees that what we’ve got isn’t right,” said Horner.
Former world champion Niki Lauda, who attended the meeting as non-executive chairman of the Mercedes F1 team, told Reuters all options had been discussed.
“We went forward and backward and then we said we have to stop now because the race is on,” said the Austrian. “Next Thursday we are going to see what is going to happen.”
Any change to the 2016 regulations needs to be approved unanimously by teams.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis