Anthony Davidson says every year he competes at Le Mans 24 Hours he has the same complaint about qualifying which doesn't get addressed by race organisers.
The Toyota Gazoo Racing driver returns for his ninth Le Mans 24 Hours and has had the same frustration each year about the brash qualifying format which he feels is unfair on drivers and fans.
Le Mans has three two-hour qualifying sessions – one during the day and two at night – in which aside from organising the starting grid and ensuring new drivers run a mandatory number of practice laps in day and night conditions, teams are largely left free to run whatever programme they choose.
The British driver says with a mixture of teams adjusting race set-up, running simulation stints or going for outright qualifying laps it causes havoc with traffic running at different speeds.
With the equal-largest Le Mans grid in history with 60 entries the congestion is maximised which Davidson blasts as a danger to competitors and an injustice to fans.
“I absolutely detest the way qualifying is run for Le Mans,” Davidson said. “I think it is unfair on the drivers, on the fans and the media. It should be all about the lap time and we are robbed of the chance to do it as a driver, see it as a fan and to report on it in the media.
“It is the same story every year. It should be a great fight to see who really has the fastest car but it is a competition of who can get the clearest lap, not the fastest.
“In this techie age people want black and white facts. The only fact we have is every car couldn't maximise its potential.
“On top of everything it is also bloody dangerous. You've got cars which have a massive discrepancy in terms of outright speed but then you've got the selfishness that has to kick in for qualifying. Someone one day is going to have a massive crash in qualifying.”
Davidson feels a simple alternative could be devised by race organisers ACO and teams – using the World Endurance Championship example of splitting LMP1 and LMP2 away from GTE-Pro and GTE-Am for qualifying – but does concede regardless of qualifying outcomes it rarely has a direct effect on the outcome of the prestigious endurance event.
“I've been championing it for ages to change it but nobody listens,” he said. “It frustrates but I know for a 24-hour race it doesn't matter but people want to know who has the fastest car. It is hollow and pointless.”