Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has warned against making changes to Formula 1 qualifying for the sake of it amid talk over a switch to a four-stage format.

F1’s existing qualifying format has been in place since 2006, with the battle for pole position taking place across three segments that set the grid from the rear upwards.

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However, efforts were made through 2018 to switch to add a fourth stage to qualifying, making each of the sessions shorter and creating more chance for unpredictable results.

The plan remains on the table as talks continue about possible regulation tweaks in F1 for 2020 and 2021, but Red Bull chief Horner wants to see meaningful proof that it would be a change for the better.

“We’ll have a look at the simulations. I think with anything like that, we have to understand it,” Horner said.

“What you don’t want to end up with is cars not running in Q4 because they don’t have enough tyres left. Are there enough tyres to support the initiative?

“We’re open to any ideas, but you have to really do your homework to make sure you don’t just change for the sake of change. What is the purpose of the change? And change to something better.

“We’ll have a look at the numbers. It feels like we’re a little bit short on tyres at a first look for four sectors of qualifying, but we’ll run the simulations.”

Horner’s reservations were shared by Haas F1 chief Guenther Steiner, who also felt a Q4 would end up featuring the same teams at each race.

“There need to be some studies done that we are not opening up the gap instead of closing it,” Steiner said.

“I think in principle, the idea is not bad, having shorter sessions and people can mess up, but if you then compromise it and it’s a given who is in Q4, is that interesting?

“Everyone’s working on a bit of a summary of what could happen and then send it to Ross [Brawn] and see what we’re going to do.

“We just need to make sure that we don’t get it wrong, because the qualifying system at the moment is not bad. It’s working.

“You say never change a winning team, so it’s a little bit like do we try to invent something that doesn’t make it worse?

“If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.”

 

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