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schuby from Romania writes "About the new qualifying rules: they suck. I think they changed the rules so that every driver would have the same chance of getting on the pole. I know there had been some complaints in the past about drivers slowing down and getting in the way of those who were on their flying laps at the time. But let's face it: at least then, when one of your qualifying laps got f***ed up because of some insensitive-to-blue-flags driver, you still had 3 more chances to set a good qualifying time. Now you make a mistake, you're last. (It's true that all the drivers have virtually the same conditions, as nobody else is on the track at the time they're on their flying laps. But it's also true that the track changes in time, gets cleaner and faster, so what you win in one place is lost in another.) The qualifying, as it is now, is simply boring"  - (Ref - The death of Real Racing ? - The Quali-flyer's comments on the latest F1 regulation changes)

The Quali-flyer replies: 

Hear Hear !!

Now if we can just get that message through to Max we'll all be enjoying racing again.

Rick O from Australia writes "While I don't think that one lap qualifying is necessarily a bad thing, I do recognise that this business with not refuelling between qualifying and the race is an absolute joke. I don't want to go to the race this Sunday and see a Jordan 1,2 on the grid because they knew that they couldn't win the race outright and an extra pitstop would make absolutely no difference, therefore qualifying on fumes for prestige. 
Friday and Saturday are now dead as far as I am concerned and I think I'll book a couple of rounds of golf instead of going to the track. 
I have really enjoyed your commentary over the last 12 or so months and will miss your opinions dearly. They have made my Monday mornings at work much easier to get through. Hopefully your controversy corner will be as interesting as the "Real Race"  (Ref - The Quali-flyer Signs Off!)

The Quali-flyer replies: 


Thanks for the encouragement. I have enjoyed my year in the spot-light (often in various crosshairs too) and wouldn't want to disappoint the loyal fans of the also rans who just love to hate me. I think their hero's will perform down to their capabilities often enough for me to get a comment in occasionally. Assuming they don't go near the public and end up committed or hung, Bernie and Max will also be providing a wealth of subject matter, based on their performance to date.

I look forward to continuing my involvement with, unfortunately I don't look forward to this weekends qualifying, and its been a long time since I felt that.

Tony K from the USA writes "It IS true that Saturday qualifying won't be indicative of much any more, BUT Friday qualifying certainly WILL! We will see a battle for those last Saturday qualifying spots and everyone will be going all out. Maybe a column on Friday qualifying would be in order!" - (Ref - The Quali-flyer Signs Off!)

The Quali-flyer replies: 


I seriously considered just that, but for a host of reasons decided against it. I suggested last year, long before the fuel fiasco, that the real racing would occur on Friday. Now that is even more definite.

I decided against it primarily because it is too divorced from the activities of Sunday. The reverse start positioning on Saturday will only be used to determine the fuel loading to be used for Sunday to meet the strategic objectives. Qualifying now is redundant and will have very little impact on the race, unless a Jaguar on pole runs out of fuel at the first corner.

With a one lap scenario Friday will be interesting to watch from your lounge room. TV viewers will be the only ones to benefit though, from a financial perspective they are the only ones that count anyway. Being trackside is fantastic during a race but seeing one car driven in anger for 3.75 seconds (assuming you have a great spot on a long straight) every 3 minutes (up to 7or more if the previous car stops on the track) is not my idea of excitement.

At least Friday will see drivers driving to better their opponents time, unlike Saturday

Stewart M from Australia writes "You righting yourself of already, not premature I hope. Iím yet to finalize my opinion, could be interesting to see the tactics develop. Iím not sure qualifying is quite dead yet a lot of things can happen in one lap even at 99%" - (Ref - The Quali-flyer Signs Off!)

The Quali-flyer replies: 


I hope you are right, but expect to find that I am.

My problem (which led to the closure of the column) is not that qualifying will not have a strategic place. It is that we cannot make any assessment of these strategies until Sunday. If a driver performs badly on Saturday it will not be evident until Sunday shows the fuel load he carried.

In the absence of hard information commentary would be at best a guess and would have to be directed at the race, not the qualifying session. My purpose in writing that column was to comment on the pure competition of qualifying, as we knew it, not to assess the strategic implications of team decisions.

The competition is dead, so too must the column die.

I will not be directing my Controversy Corner at qualifying exclusively so the opportunity will exist in that new forum to address a wide range of issues, not least the relative performance of the over-rated and over-paid. I also expect to look at the impact of these new rules after a couple of races to see if they have indeed improved the sport.

Alberto R from Paraguay writes "My common sense tells me that the underlaying problem in F1 is that the FIA wants to keep engine manufacturer teams with independent teams together; and that is simply untenable since their interests are too different! (and their funds and infrastructure too!). I'm waiting for a super league between Fiat, Toyota, Ford, Mercedes Renault, Honda and BMW, SALUD" - (Ref - The FIA Fuels the Foolishness)

The Quali-flyer replies: 


The real underlying problem is that the FIA and Bernie want to keep both the control and the revenue. They can only do that by ensuring an ongoing and greater role for the private teams.

The manufacturers league now seems a certainty but they will have their own problems with fielding enough cars to be attractive to the fans.

F1, as we have known it is dead, it will just take a few more years for the corpse to stop moving.

Let us all hope that the FIA and Bernie lose the coming battle. If they win, we, the fans, will be the real losers.

Alberto R replies

Quali-flyer, it's very kind of you to answer every message you receive!. I congratulate you for your insightful quotations but I don't see a problem having few cars on the track, in fact, here in Paraguay people use to enjoy horse races with only two horses taking part. SALUD!

And the Quali-flyer replies:


I can show an even more extreme example - many fans enjoyed the last season of F1, and that was a one horse race!

Even so, they will want to field a full comliment of cars to assist the spectacle

Ed F from the USA writes "Your comments on qualifying strategy and the advantage the last runners will have is well taken. Only solution is to not reveal any qualifying time until the session is over. Not very exciting for the fans though" - (Ref - The FIA Fuels the Foolishness)

The Quali-flyer replies: 

That can't happen. Even if they don't post the times the teams all have pretty good stop watches.

It now seems pretty much assured that the fuelling restriction will be applied - that's the end of qualifying as anything more than a tactical extension of the race. That is also the end of the quali-flyer as a relevant commentator.

2008 is a long way off before we get back to real racing. Of course there is always plenty of time for the FIA to reverse and re-reverse these rulings a few times before then.

The only real solution is for the teams to collectively rebel against the damn fool decisions of the FIA. That's not going to happen either unfortunately.

Jeff S from the USA writes "HEAR HEAR. I have been trying to think of how to articulate my feelings about the rule changes and here it is saying exactly how I feel. Keep up the good work, maybe Max and Bernie will read you comments and realize how silly they are being!" - (Ref - The New Rules, an object lesson in planned change management - The Quali-flyer's response to the latest round of cost cutting measures)

The Quali-flyer replies: 


Thanks for the support. As for Bernie and Max, I suspect they are way too busy to read my ramblings. Busy hatching the next round of interesting errrr .... challenges ... for the TWG.

The latest silliness seems to be directed at alienating the race organisers (particularly Melbourne) by playing around with the warm-up. Instead of one session before the race we might have two, one before each qualifying session, with none (or perhaps one, we aren't sure) on race day. Oh, and by the way perhaps we should move qualifying back an hour just to make the support races that much harder to organise. I'm glad I'm not the one who's scheduling the events in less than six weeks time.

I'm considering starting a competition on how many sessions will actually be held each day of the program with a bonus prize for anyone who can guess what 1/2 the rule changes that actually apply come March are. It would be too hard to award the prizes based on all the rules. The competition would close on the Thursday before the race, thats still plenty of time for them to modify things some more and make the likelihood of actually having a winner pretty slim. One thing seems to be sure though, Max and Bernie don't have a chance of winning.

See you on Friday March 7th in Melbourne, assuming that Melbourne is still the first race on the calendar by then. Who knows, the FIA still have weeks to change that too.

Roger from Australia writes "Couldn't agree more - I've been following F1 since the days of Moss, Fangio, and lesser mortals. F1 should be the pinnacle - if one team is dominant, it's because their cars or their drivers are better - and it's a spur to the others. Let's *not* reduce everything to Lowest Common Denominator level.  
What the f### is happening to F1? I for one, want competition not only with the best and by the best but that seeks to *produce* the best. Let's not forget what F1 should be about - there are plenty of lesser categories for 'parity' and low cost racing" - (Ref - The New Rules, an object lesson in planned change management - The Quali-flyer's response to the latest round of cost cutting measures)

The Quali-flyer replies: 


F1 is about money and this really does seem to me to be a knee jerk reaction by Bernie and Max to position it below the pinnacle. They cannot stop the manufacturers from departing without releasing some (most) of the dammed up megabucks flowing from TV rights and they cannot hope to match the new circus for technological excellence. Their options are limited to either positioning their cash cow in a new paddock below the GPWC or allow it to wither away and die.

Putting Paul and Eddie's teams at risk would take away the base for a post GPWC start-up and these teams, plus Sauber, are the seeds for F1 in 2008. Neither Minardi nor Jordan could survive in the face of the onslaught from the manufacturers bucks, given the massive reductions in sponsorship levels they are seeing. There are a multitude of reasons for this reduced revenue, economic uncertainty is certainly one, but not the biggest in my opinion. Attendances are dropping, TV audiences are dropping and the whole thing might come crashing down in 5 years, they are the real reasons sponsors are holding their purses so tight.

While they (Mosley and Ecclestone) have lost the plot they had to do something. Giving the two poor cousins a small handout was never going to be enough and the bigger teams were not going to stop outspending these two. I said in my article that maybe F1 cannot afford privateers any more and I meant it.

The one smart move Max and Bernie have made is to act now. The manufacturers will not walk away with only 5 more seasons till they can go it alone and the FIA needs to go through the pain of adjustment while the big names are still there to keep the fans (or as many as they can). Yes, these changes will kill F1 as we know it, but they will also create a lesser formula that can survive after the manufacturers depart to do the real racing.

See you on the Quali-flyer pages after 2008.

Tomas from the Czech Republic writes "Dear Quali-flyer, You are not far away from the truth in my opinion re. the decision makers. I would say they have tried to break Michael's dominance from the start, which led to awful manoeuvres both from them up to himself during 1994. I personally don't think dominance of 1 person has to be bad for the sport. The dominators become many peoples heroes and no reasonable authority has ever done anything to limit the success of their superstars, mostly the particular sport had more profit than loss by them either. Golf is much more popular with Tiger Woods than without him, others from too many to mention Bjoern Borg, Pete Sampras, Hermann Maier, Ingemar Stenmark, Kenny Roberts, Freddie Spencer. These people are phenomenons, out of the ordinary, beating the very best in their field with divine ease. How could Valentino Rossi dominate MotoGP this year when 12 drivers had comparative machines. More on he dominated racing, where overtaking is happening permanently, in almost boring fashion. Mika Hakkinen passed MS in Spa 3 years ago and that will remain an unforgettable manoeuvre. Overall we have seen enough overtaking this year and mostly through decent track design.

Re. the new qualifying rules I think You are looking at it too negatively. I would agree with the editor we will be able to judge the final effects not before the first 3 or 4 races of 2003 have been run. I can imagine MS taking out more poles next year than 7, and I think that from a sporting point of view everyone can live with better qualifying spots for people like Frentzen, Heidfeld, Fisichella or Button. There are not only Ferraris and Minardis lining up, so there is no black and white position. I would expect all drivers to give 100%, there is no room to play it safe. If Ralf drives 98% and Nick 100%, the Sauber will start in front of the Williams.

The biggest mistake in my opinion is the new points system in that the difference between winning and coming second is just 2 points now. The points for 7. and 8. are ok. rewarding the work of all involved but the winner should receive 12 points now. To put it simple 2 wins should be more than 3 seconds or 4 thirds. As an example, the points systems of CART and MotoGP are a joke. Saying this, nothing will stop the highly blessed from dominating, Rossi and Montoya being the last examples in these influated points system sports. May the new season begin.

Kind regards, Tomas

PS.Quali-flyer, don't worry to continue Your very good efforts" - (Ref - The death of Real Racing ? - The Quali-flyer's comments on the latest F1 regulation changes)

The Quali-flyer replies: 


You are right in what you say about Michael, he really is a class above the rest and when his talent is combined with the Ferrari then you have domination of the sport in a way that is not often seen. The Senna's, Prost's etc had competition from their team mates when they had unbeatable cars. Michael doesn't. The comparisons you raise to Tiger Woods et al are quite valid.

As for my concerns about qualifying, I still don't believe that it will be as simple to answer the questions of parity between drivers. Only Saturday counts and one perfect lap is what is required. When Schumacher (who has to be the most perfect machine driving in F1 today) aborts qualifying laps on at least 5 occasions in 2002 due to small mistakes then it's too much to expect a Raikkonen to get it right first time, every time, and everybody knows how impressed I am with Kimi's qualifying skills. I simply don't like the introduction of the 'lottery' element. Drivers should be judged harshly for failing to deliver but even 2 laps (2 laps that count toward the grid - not a Friday Farce) would be better than the all or nothing deal on offer next year. My real fear is that it will favour those drivers who are more conservative (Ralf has already said he likes it which must make you suspicious). The risk of losing one place on the grid by a slightly less than 100% effort will be offset by the risk of losing 21 positions by a 101% attempt. Yes, on occasions the brave will be rewarded, but a few starts from the back of the pack resulting in 1 or 2 points instead of 10 or 8 will weigh heavily on the minds of the top drivers. Nothing I have seen yet will stop BMW from producing a 20,000 RPM qualifying engine for 2003, allowing the drivers to go faster yet more conservatively for the 2 laps the engine will last.

I have stated before that the new points system is wrong, I don't like rewarding mediocrity and 8th in a field of 10 or 12 finishers is mediocre!

Thanks for your support, I will be around to see the results of the rules changes but I'm not as confident as The Editor that The Quali-flyer hasn't been made redundant by these changes.

David from Australia writes "I have been an F1 fan for as long as I can remember. I have seen many changes in the sport, none more so than each team having its time to dominate. I am not shy to say that it has certainly become more boring, and I find it easier to fall asleep during a race than ever before. Surely the governing bodies of the sport need to remove efforts to slow the cars and allow slick tyres and remove driving aids, so as real drivers can be allowed to be aggressive and show what they are made of. They may need to break the field down to two levels such as the Australian V8"s series has done, with two classes. This would allow two races within one. Lets face the facts, Michael Schumacher is going to win with Ferrari as he brings in the sponsorship bucks for them, Rubens has not got the support from the team as he has not the sponsorship following as for Michael. 
They call it the F1 circus, that's what it is at the moment, team orders and Lets let Michael win. I would love to see Montoya head to head with Michael in a Ferrari, Then we would see racing as it was meant to be. 
I hope the sport becomes a little more exciting, as I fear it may be lost by TV coverage. If you listen to such up and coming drivers like Damatta, F1 is the pointy end of racing, lets let it shine like it was, let drivers be drivers, and let their characters develop. Regards David" - (Ref - The death of Real Racing ? - The Quali-flyer's comments on the latest F1 regulation changes)

The Quali-flyer replies: 


Gee, wouldn't that mean real competition and overtaking and stuff? I'm not sure Max would approve of that!

Andre from Brazil writes "I agree 99% with your comment, although I was very upset by the reduction of the winner's point advantage from 4 to 2 points. When I started following the circus the advantage was a mere 3 points and a pilot that was less aggressive could be the world champion if he was constantly making to the points. The increase to 4 points was an incentive to winning, and I'm also in favour of discharging the 3 worse results. I wouldn't be bothered if the first 10 pilots would be gratified with points, since the winner would receive at least 5 points more than the second, the 2nd 3 or 4 points more than the 3rd and leaving the 1 point advantage for the middle runners. Best regards, Andre" - (Ref - The death of Real Racing ? - The Quali-flyer's comments on the latest F1 regulation changes)

The Quali-flyer replies: 

Andre, Why not just award them all points, One for starting, one for every lap completed and 2 for having a pretty car. No - winners deserve points and losers deserve to lose. The points differential rewarded the winners in 2002 - in 2003 it won't.

I predicted at the start of last year that there would be pressure on the points system to salve the ego's of the mediocre. I didn't think they would emasculate the winners like this though.

Ed F from the USA writes "EXACTLY!!!! New points OK. Qualifying was at its best before these changes. To see the pole position change throughout the hour was, on many occasions, more exciting than the race itself. Now the weather lottery will prevail. The new system may only change the passing of the backmarkers. The front runners will all line up as the backmarkers are passed and then will not be able to pass each other as in prior years. CHANGE THE CARS NOT THE RULES. Get rid of the factors that would allow drafting and therefore passing. DUMP THE WINGS. Other racing series without wings, or races where wings are less of a factor (INDY 500) are replete with passing. The FIA is beset with the ultimate idiots. We need better racing among the front runners not different qualifying. Who cares when Schumi passes a Minardi or a Jaguar. A foregone conclusion. We want to see Schumi pass Schumi, Montoya or vice versa. Not possible with today's car regs. CHANGE THE CARS!!! Ed" - (Ref - The death of Real Racing ? - The Quali-flyer's comments on the latest F1 regulation changes)

The Quali-flyer replies: 


I'm not even sure we need to remove the wings, simply modify them to ensure controlled and consistent air disturbance from some point behind the vehicle at speeds of from 150 kph. Apart from that, I can't disagree with a word you say, getting from the rear of the grid to 6th is a fairly simple exercise for a MS, from there on the design rules come into play and overtaking becomes a very rare event. Others have taken a much more simplistic view, assuming - I suppose - that having a Ferrari overtake an Arrows or a Minardi is cause for excitement.

For once I hope I am wrong and that these changes will enhance the sport, I just can't see how.

Deb from the USA writes "My pool has no deep end and wading around here in the shallows for so long its pretty tough to understand the technicalities and implications of the F1 thing. I'll tell you this, though................whets up with the last paragraph of your 1 Nov post? that doesn't sound like you at all. Since when do you make your decisions based on how other people react? as if they know anything at all? I didn't know the quali-flyer started writing by popular demand, I thought it was because he (and them smart NewsOnF1 guys) was just so convinced that he had something to say. You say yourself that F1 will survive these changes. well, isn't that the whole deal? that you love F1? so how does that equal up to you no longer having anything important to say? it seems to me that loving the sport + technical expertise = relevance.

my god, ....the world is ass-deep in irrelevant drivel. it would seem to me that now is the BEST time to do your part to make sure no one drowns. Simply because you love it." - (Ref - The death of Real Racing ? - The Quali-flyer's comments on the latest F1 regulation changes)

The Quali-flyer replies: 


Thanks for the email, it showed up something I omitted from my original posting. I am passionate about F1 and will remain so.

The reason that I am contemplating withdrawing the regular column is not because I have lost interest in the sport, its because I serviced a niche and that niche has been massively modified, potentially becoming irrelevant. Qualifying was pure competition, minimally impacted by chance, with minimal outside interference. Now it's not!

Commentary on the race is provided by both the Editors Reviews and the opinions of The Heretic. NewsonF1 doesn't need another forum for review on Sunday's events, these two cover that brilliantly. With the new rules I question the ongoing relevance of qualifying and that is what makes me consider my options.

I will still remain a part of newsonF1 - perhaps through continuing the column, or perhaps as a regular contributor to the responses forum plus the occasional article. I'm not sure at this stage.

As for the one comment I do disagree with, some of our readers are quite brilliant and put valuable input into the site. Others disagree with me and I will defend to the death their right to be wrong!

disclaimer: The author of this email has been a friend of the Quali-flyer for many years

Jeff S from the USA writes "I must agree with you. The changes that have been made are little more than token gestures so the powers that be can say "We're doing something." Although who they are trying to impress is beyond me. If they were serious, they would have looked at the cars to make them less dependent on aero forces. This would allow cars to get closer without worrying about getting into "dirty air" and losing all their grip. One lap to qualify? COME ON! Maybe a time limit, say ten or fifteen minutes, with one car at a time, but one lap is a joke. Why not just draw names out of a hat? If the decision makers really want to improve F1 they need to be looking at ways to make the RACE more exciting, which means making overtaking possible!" - (Ref - The death of Real Racing ? - The Quali-flyer's comments on the latest F1 regulation changes)

The Quali-flyer replies: 


Well said.

My real concern is that with the new qualifying rules, designed to make Sunday more of a lottery, they have removed the one truly exciting part of the show.

The last 5 minutes of Saturday has always been nail biting stuff and that's now gone. Some other races use a similar concept. The Bathurst 1000 in Australia has had a 'Top Ten' shootout for years. Under this ruling the fastest 10 qualifiers do a single lap to determine the starting order. This works because they can afford to give it their all, knowing that the worst outcome will be starting from the 5th row of a very large grid for a 600 mile race. Under 'Max's Folly' rules one slight hiccup and your looking up the backside of a Minardi come Sunday.

As I have said, Formula 1 will survive this but now that the floodgates are opened I suspect we could see an annual tinkering with things that aren't broke in order to avoid having to confront the things that are. Perhaps they could drop the best and worst five or six results from scoring or reverse the points for every second race - that could give Ferrari's opposition a chance next year and really wouldn't be that much sillier than this change.

Manish from India writes "Hi Quali-flyer, I share most of your views on the new rules, esp the qualifying part. yeah, it will do harm to the sport to see an element of restraint and a conservative approach from top teams in qualifying, as also the role that chance will play. On one point I tend to disagree : that the nature of tracks and overtaking opportunities is the vital factor. One has to keep in mind the role that the alteration of tracks has played in drastically reducing the number of accidents and fatalities in F1. We haven't seen a single fatal accident since the tragic Senna death in 94, and compare that with the number of fatalities in the 70s, early 80s. You may argue that technology & safety issues in car development are more important, but certainly the nature of current tracks is to reduce the number of accidents in general. This is good for the sport.. we are not here to watch a bull fight where we just enjoy (not that I enjoy bull-fights) & don't care a damn about safety. 
It's all very nice to read about the old 13 mile long Nurburgring and the old Monza tracks and how challenging they were & how many overtaking opportunities they provided. That very Nurburgring was the site of Niki Lauda's horrific accident ... Ronnie Peterson died at Monza. I think the FIA is doing the right thing by giving a higher priority to safety in F1, even at the expense of overtaking. Of course, it's a pity to see Spa go away from the calendar & we hope it comes back in 2004. But, if Ferrari continues to be so dominant, increasing overtaking opportunities will only lead to Montoya taking Ralf out every other race ;)" - (Ref - The death of Real Racing ? - The Quali-flyer's comments on the latest F1 regulation changes)

The Quali-flyer replies: 


Thanks for the reply. I accept your comments, however I cannot believe that it is not possible to provide a track layout that is both safe and open enough to allow overtaking. Long runoffs and traps are options. Creating a layout that promotes more than one acceptable racing line is another. Car design has come a very long way since the '80's and while we have been very fortunate in avoiding fatalities there have been many very, very serious accidents since then. The incident at Suzuka during qualifying was a perfect example of a situation which, with a '70's or '80's design car and 'old' crash barriers would almost certainly have resulted in tragedy.

Safety and spectacle need not be mutually exclusive. I don't have all the answers but I think re-engineering the wear characteristics of tyres to stop marbling and thereby allow cars to run onto the (currently) dirty areas of the track would be a start. I also believe that it is possible to alter the aerodynamic characteristics of the cars to reduce air spoilage behind the car without adversely effecting the competitiveness of the sport, or reducing safety.

But Ralf and Juan Pablo are team mates - they would never put each other at risk, ...... would they?

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