The FIA, governing body for the Formula One world championship, have approved planned changes to the Qualifying system ahead of this weekends 2014 Australian Grand Prix in a bid to prevent drivers not setting a lap in the top 10 shoot-out to save tyres.
This confirmation comes after F1 team principals met in Bahrain last month during pre-season testing, to discuss ways to avoid the non-participation of drivers in the Q3 segment of qualifying, a ploy carried out last season by some of the teams in order to save tyres for the race.
The plans will see the following modifications to the running:
- Every driver that makes it through to Q3 will be given an extra set of the Pirelli option tyres to use in addition to the allocated number, which must be given back once the session is complete
- The timings for each of the Qualifying segments have been adjusted. Q1 will now be 18 minutes along, as opposed to the usual 20 minute time-frame, and Q3 will be extended to 12 minutes from the previous ten minute slot. This has been done in order to ensure the drivers have enough time to complete two full laps during the final Q3 session
- Finally, drivers who make it through to the final Q3 segment will no longer have to start the race on the tyres they finished that session on; instead they will start the grand prix with the tyres they set their fastest lap on in Q2.
The FIA are hopeful that these changes will encourage drivers to take part in every Qualifying session in full, rather than focus on saving tyres, as they will now get a set of tyres specifically for the third qualifying session if they make it there. Those who do not reach Q3 may only use them during the race.
This increases the total allocation of dry-weather tyres for each driver this year to 13. This is an increase from 11 last year, including the extra set of “prime” specification tyres for first practice which was previously announced.
Free practice for the Australian Grand Prix starts in the early hours of tomorrow morning, followed by Qualifying and the opening round of the 2014 Formula One world championship in the days after.
By Jordan Groves Formula 1 correspondent for RTR Sports Marketing Follow Jordan on twitter at www.twitter.com/jgroves1996