Plans to add a qualifying session to each grand prix Sunday appear to have been scuppered in a rare show of unity among team bosses during the latest summit meeting about the future of Formula One.

The sport's commercial chief, Bernie Ecclestone, eager to give something back to the fans, had proposed moving the final qualifying session to Sunday morning, filling the gap currently created by the loss of the warm-up session, which moved to before final qualifying when the controversial parc ferme rules were introduced at the beginning of 2003.

However, with Sunday morning being a key time for drivers to mix with corporate guests, the teams were keen to keep the time free from on-track distractions, even if it means that the possibility of Friday being given over to testing was also shelved.

"Sunday qualifying is categorically not going to happen - that's one thing the [teams] are all agreed on," a source told Reuters today [Friday].

BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen expanded on the decision, claiming that the race in itself was enough to keep fans interested on Sundays.

"If we put qualifying on Sunday morning, there would be even less interest on Saturday," he said, "You want all the speculation on Saturdays."

It had been hoped that the meeting, which was being held in London, would hammer out a revised weekend timetable, with Friday given over entirely to testing, with qualifying moving to Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, with the grand prix itself rounding out proceedings a matter of hours after the grid had been set. The idea to free up Friday was linked to another plan to restrict the amount of testing allowed between races in an attempt to cut costs.

"The timetable is being discussed, but any outcome is not going to be a million miles from where we are now," another source confided to Reuters.

 

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