Return to three part qualifying
The FIA has formally agreed to allow Formula One to return to the old three part qualifying ahead of this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix. The format was introduced this season but has proved unpopular with drivers, teams and fans.
Today the FIA announced the change to revert to the old format had passed the phases of the legislative process. The FIA and FOM were opposed to returning to the old format but have agreed to revert to last season’s format “in the interests of the championship”.
The two did come up with another idea which was adding the driver’s two fastest laps together to set the grid. But the teams had already voted unanimously backing a return to the 2015 format.
However, the number of cars knocked out in Q1 and Q2 will be increased by one as there are now twenty two cars on the grid. This means the six slowest will be knocked out at the end of the sessions rather than at timed intervals.
Williams profit rises
Williams has made a £101.5m profit from Formula One last year following their return to the top end of Formula One. The British teams upturn is partly due to back to back third placed finishes in the constructors’ championship have driven an upturn in both commercial rights revenue and sponsorship income.
In 2014 the team made a loss as the Williams Group of £37m however the whole group made a loss of £3.3m last year. Group chief executive officer Mike O’Driscoll said: “Our 2015 financial results represent a major improvement, with strong revenue growth and positive cash flow.
“Over the past two years we have completely restructured our business, and our results reflect significant progress, both operationally and financially.”
O’Driscoll added that there third place in the championship shows the teams “resurgence on the track, and balance revenue and expenditure, despite enormous levels of competitive spending in what is sport’s most challenging financial environment.”
He added: “Our Formula 1 team achieved third place in the Constructors’ Championship for the second successive season in 2015, illustrating the clear step change we have made in our racing competitiveness since we began our restructuring.
Major upgrades for Toro Rosso
Toro Rosso say they are hoping they can bring two or three ‘major upgrades’ to their car this season so they can keep up the strong pace they have shown in the opening two races of the season.
The Italian team is currently sixth in the constructor’s championship but are wary that running a 2015 Ferrari engine could mean they lose ground to their rivals. But team principal Franz Tost believes that improvements to their chassis means they can hold its ground against the opposition.
He told Motorsport.com that the technical team around James Key are already working on upgrades. “I’m quite convinced that during the season we will make some other steps forward with the car, which is necessary because as you know we are with the 2015 engine out there and that means we must be concentrated to improve the performance of the car.” He said.
The team were comprised by their late switch from Renault to Ferrari power unit which has meant compromises in terms of packaging and weight distribution. The issues are believed to have impacted on the higher tyre degradation levels that the team has suffered in the early races.
Tost said “We know that we can improve the car, and we are working on this. But I think every team will say something similar.”
Drivers should shut up – Villeneuve
Former world champion Jacques Villeneuve says drivers should “shut up” and not interfere with the rule-making because it is not their job. The union of drivers the Grand Prix Drivers Association has called for governance structure to change.
Over the last few weeks the sport has appeared to tearing itself apart over governance, direction and the move to pay TV in Europe. Also over the elimination qualifying format that was abandoned in favour of a return to the 2006-15 system.
Villeneuve told Autosport “the way the drivers have been complaining is terrible for F1. They should just shut up. It’s not their problem how good or bad the show is on TV. They should just get on with their job.”
He also says the sport should stop changing the rules in order to improve the show and admit that like all sports, it cannot always be exciting. He says it is important not to overcomplicate and to accept that entertainment levels will wary.
Overtaking will not increase – Wolff
Toto Wolff has warned that regulations which are due to be introduce next year will limit the amount of overtaking seen in races. F1 is targeting a 30% increase in downforce in 2017 in order to make cars up to five seconds faster per lap.
These changes are hope to make cars more extreme and lap times to fall but Wolff has warned that racing could be adversely affected. “The cars will not be able to follow each other” Wolff said on Mercedes’ YouTube channel.
“I think adding downforce was a mistake. We like the challenge and the guys in aero have taken the fight up, but I think for Formula One generally, for overtaking, it was the wrong decision”
He says a repeat of Lewis Hamilton not being able to overtake Max Verstappen would happen next year and the cars are already the fastest on the planet after Hamilton broke the qualifying record at the Bahrain Grand Prix last weekend.