F1Qualifying Formats


F1 has employed a number of different qualifying formats. Some of these were quite lame, designed for show purposes, such as to artificially shake up the grid, rather than being a true sporting competition to determine which driver/car combo really is the fastest. Of all the F1 qualifying formats, the one that I liked best was the one that was used all the way through the 1995 season. During those years 2 free 1 hr. qualifying sessions were held, one on Fri. and one on Sat. The grid positions were set according to each driver’s quickest lap, regardless of which of the two sessions it was set in. One of the things that was so great about those sessions that I would love to see a return to, was that there were no parc ferme rules in effect during qualifying as is the case now (this, of course, meant that the teams could continue to make whatever changes they wanted to the cars during the 1 hr. session to make them even faster). Current F1 fans may not be aware of or fully appreciate the fact that because of the parc ferme rules there is no longer any time during a F1 weekend that we get to see these amazing cars run at their absolute fastest (which would occur during qualifying--if dry). This reality exists because under the parc ferme rules, rather than setting up a car to run the absolute fastest single lap that it’s capable of, the setup must be a compromise between the qualifying and race setups. For those who never had the opportunity to witness those past qualifying sessions, I can tell you that it was breathtaking (and at times, downright scary!) to see the drivers and cars performing on their absolute ragged edge—this was especially so if you were attending the race weekend and watching it in-person (Senna was particularly astounding to watch). I greatly miss that. I wish that F1 would just scrap the stupid qualifying parc ferme rules and the artificial reins these impose and let the cars truly run free and unbridled.
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