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F1 considering qualifying races for 2020, drivers slam idea

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By Reuters

By Abhishek Takle

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Formula One is considering holding races to determine the starting grid at certain grands prix next year, the president of the sport’s governing body Jean Todt said on Saturday, but the idea was slammed by leading drivers.

“It’s part of discussions and again it’s how to make the sport better, how to make the sport more attractive, always trying to find new ideas,” said the Frenchman who heads the International Automobile Federation (FIA).

“I will say it’s a work in process and no decision has yet been taken.”

Formula One qualifying takes place in three phases over an hour on Saturday under the current format.

Five of the slowest cars are eliminated at the end of each of the first two phases with pole decided in a final session with 10 cars.

The proposal for qualifying races would see the cars lining up in reverse championship order with the overall points leader last.

The results of the Saturday race would then decide the grid for Sunday’s main event.

Such Saturday races would only be held at certain events and the proposal would require unanimous agreement from teams for it to be possible next year.

“There’s more work that’s going to be done, seeing if we can have a qualifying race at three races,” Racing Point team principal Otmar Szafnauer told reporters.

“We have to answer a lot of questions… what happens if you crash in the qualifying race, we then have to carry more spares, who’s going to pay for it, engine mileage might be a little different, tyre usage.

“The FIA asked and said we don’t want to waste all our time asking these questions if one of you is going to say ‘forget it’, which kind of makes sense. So we all said go ahead and answer the questions.

“So it could happen. But we do need unanimity for that to happen in 2020. And it’s hard to get unanimity in Formula One,” added Szafnauer.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, both multiple world champions, were no fans of the idea.

“I think it’s complete bullshit to be honest,” said four-times champion Vettel. “It’s just a plaster. I don’t know which genius came up with it but it’s not the solution.”

Hamilton, a five-times champion and runaway leader again this season, agreed: “People that are proposing that, they don’t really know what they’re talking about,” he said.

(Editing by Alan Baldwin/)