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F1 Chinese GP: F1 will return to 2015 qualifying format

F1 will return to last year's knockout qualifying format from the Chinese Grand Prix as Jean Todt and Bernie Ecclestone are forced to back down
Formula 1's qualifying format will revert to the knockout system used last season after teams successfully persuaded the FIA and the commercial rights holder to back down on more revisions.

The sport adopted an elimination-style format for the start of the season, but teams provisionally agreed to a plan to revert back to the more popular 2015 format when it was panned by fans and drivers, only to be blocked from doing so by the FIA and FOM.

With the F1 powers seemingly unwilling to go back during a crunch meeting at the Bahrain Grand Prix, a revised proposal was to be tabled at a meeting which included a new aggregate style format. However, teams would formally unite with a letter sent to FIA President Jean Todt, Bernie Ecclestone and F1 owners CVC to declare it would not agree to it, citing an unwillingness to conduct another 'live experiment'..

As a result, the FIA is set to confirm that the sport reverts back to knockout qualifying from the Chinese Grand Prix onwards with a view to installing a more thoroughly-considered format for 2017.

The qualifying saga began out of a desire to shake up qualifying, with the ultimate aim of shaking up the grid, with elimination qualifying voted in by teams as a preference over another proposal that would have included reverse grids.

However, the format would suffer from flaws owing to a lack of running in the final minutes, while fans would label it confusing. With teams agreeing, it was expected to be changed back for the second race in Bahrain, only for the FIA to show reluctance and only offer revisions as an option.

It was a stance the FIA and FOM looked set to maintain as they entered another meeting today to consider a new format – which would have seen the best two laps from three knockout sessions determine the grid -, only for teams to prelude this with a letter unanimously declaring this to be an unsatisfactory solution.

Though the debacle has centred around qualifying, the fall-out between teams and the F1 powers has been viewed in the wider context of a political battle of wills, one that has brought the decision-making processes – widely considered to be flawed by most concerned – under strict scrutiny.

It is also the latest in a long line of disagreements between the leading members of the sport, though the teams unanimously coming together to oppose the FIA and the FOM still remains significant.
by Ollie Barstow

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