Saturday Tickets To Be Sold At A Premium After Qualifying Format Change

Formula 1’s most and possibly only competitive session – qualifying wasn’t in need of an immediate fix. This is possibly why the powers that control Formula 1 went ahead and fixed it anyway. Qualifying is the only competitive session where drivers don’t have to use artificial means to establish their superiority. (Read: Is MotoGP Better Than F1?)

The new format will force drivers to spend more time on track and clock competitive times to avoid elimination. But that’s what the current format forces them to do too, barring a few exceptions. If I were to try and understand the reason behind this change, it is to try and mix up the grid for the race on Sunday. While there’s possibility it might do so, I wonder if it will do so on a consistent basis. If not, I wonder why the change in the first place. (Read: The Truth About Overtaking)

If mixed grids is indeed the trigger, with the hope that it will spice up the race, I wonder why no one has bothered to change the format of the race or the racing itself! But we’re lucky that the sport didn’t resort to yet another artificial input like reverse grid. Imagine this, we have a wonderful advertisement on Saturday (the qualifying session) that encourages tune-ins on Sunday (Race Day), but the product just consistently fails to deliver excitement. (Read: A Strategy Of Errors)

Fans’ disappointment with Race Day is public knowledge and has been discussed often – we are subjected to processional races unless artificial means such as a DRS wing, degrading Pirelli tyres or the Mercedes pit-wall spice up the action. And if Mr. E has his way, sprinklers will be introduced soon too. (Read: Ecclestone Steps Down)

Also, I would disagree with those who believe that Saturday’s qualifying session sees little action. In fact, it is the Saturday that sees action pure to the DNA of the sport – speed. Drivers focus on optimizing their speed and hence lap times in qualifying only. Sundays (Race Day) have forced them to employ skills best suited for endurance racing.

For some strange reason, overtaking is assumed to be the DNA of Formula 1. Here’s why ‘DRS Has Ruined Formula One‘.

There’s general belief that the tweaked qualifying format will offer more excitement. IF it does so, then qualifying should become the main product for Formula 1. There’s a ‘Pole Position Trophy’ to support this claim too! Saturday only tickets should be announced and sold at a premium (trust Mr. E to do exactly this! By this logic, tickets for Sunday should become cheaper!). Ditto for television – Saturday numbers would out do those of Sunday.

But there are those who believe that the new format will lead to more confusion on track, which probably explains why this change was made! While it would be easier to explain the 90 second eliminations on television, one wonders how Formula One Management will manage this on track for the spectators.

I feel bad for the Formula 1 team personnel, drivers and everyone else involved in putting together a racing weekend. Despite their best efforts, qualifying remains the ONE session to watch.

Saturday or Sunday, the podium celebrations are always fun in Formula 1. But is it time to replace the good ol’ champagne with vodka shots? Here’s a funny video.

Kunal Shah is an FIA-accredited Formula 1 journalist who has been reporting on Formula 1 for nearly two decades. He worked with the Force India Formula 1 Team for 6 seasons in Marketing, Sponsorship and Commercial roles. As a former single-seater racer, he was responsible for Force India's grassroots talent program, One from a Billion Hunt. Presently, he co-writes a regular Formula 1 column for Firstpost, speaks on Inside Line F1 Podcast & Pits to Podium and produces broadcast/OTT content for NENT Group (Viasport & Viaplay).

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