Should Formula One Actually Opt For Qualifying Races?

Photo: Mark Thompson (Getty)

It feels like we go through something similar every year regarding Formula One: all this brainstorming about how to “solve” the series’ problems, or how to make it more interesting. This time around, The Powers That Be are wondering if they should implement qualifying races in exchange for the current format.

In other words, a mini sprint race or a series of heat races with a handful of cars that ultimately determine the starting position of cars for the main event on Sunday, instead of the timed event we have now.

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There’s currently a rumor making the rounds that F1 could experiment with some qualifying races during the 2020 season, ESPN reports. This has become especially relevant after the Monza qualifying fiasco, where most of the final ten Q3 drivers all left the pits too late to start their flying laps.

Not only was it a huge embarrassment for the teams involved as well as for the series as a whole—qualifying is often the most interesting and competitive part of a race weekend.

Basically, replacing the current three-tiered qualifying session with a sprint race or a series of heat races is thought to improve the weekend by making everything more, uh, interesting, I guess. In theory, it would make Sunday’s starting grid more unpredictable. In reality, who can know what the effect would be?

I can’t say I think this is necessarily a great idea, not until the introduction of the all-new regulations in 2021. Imagine a heat race with a Mercedes, a Williams, and a Toro Rosso racing against each other and tell me that would even be remotely competitive, as things currently stand. A reverse-grid sprint race might be more interesting.

It’s not like the people who run F1 consult with the fans on things like this. So I have to ask—what are your thoughts as people who actually opt to watch this series? Would a qualifying race change anything, or is it just too gimmicky?

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About the author

Elizabeth Blackstock

Staff writer. Motorsport fanatic. Proud owner of a 2013 Mazda 2.