Just to qualify, this is not a McLaren related post, but still something dear to my heart (apparently) and ultimately a plea to care for our beloved F1, for without it, there would be much less McLaren to dazzle our screens every other weekend. Normal service shall be resumed shortly.
I’ve been pretty laid back about what everyone else has been referring to as the qualifying debacle, (at least in polite circles). I’ve defended the change despite its many, wide ranging flaws and sat back and tried to enjoy everything, good or bad. I’ve been a loyal F1 fan. However just the mere hint of some kind of aggregated style of qualifying has finally hit a nerve. Daniel Ricciardo took the words right out of my mouth; qualifying should be about that one perfect lap. Not two pretty good laps mashed together. What if someone did a stunning, mind blowing, lightening fast, nothing you’ve ever seen before lap, but didn’t make it to pole because on their way to doing that eye wateringly amazing thing they had put a couple of wheels in the dirt. What if someone who had done two mediocre but tidy laps then got the pole. I would cry. Actually cry. It can’t happen.
In addition to this scare, imagine my horror when I stumbled across a qualifying system poll going on over at Sky Sports. Not wanting to be lumped in with the grumbling change haters I was reluctant to click the “go back to 2015” option, but I knew it was my duty as someone who had to do anything it took to steer away from the injustice of aggregated qualifying. Click. The current results popped up. As expected, the overwhelmingly popular choice was to return the qualifying of yonder year, but in the minority of those who had opted for a new system, the winner was somehow the aggregated format! No! No formula 1 fans, what are you thinking!? Is the “thrill” of seeing a clock ticking down to zero in a final lap shoot out, with the addition of having to review precious lap times and then do some maths to work out what lap time each driver needs to do in order to be on pole position, really more important to you than seeing the artistry of that one perfect lap rewarded?
I imagine this will be the only time I write something so overwhelmingly negative about the state of the sport I love. I have deliberately kept away from this most hot of hot topics for the reason that in all this qualifying craziness we are forgetting what formula one is about. The fastest drivers competing in the best cars on a shimmering world stage. It should be a showcase of that, not a maths challenge. But let us not lose hope, don’t let us turn our backs on the thing we love. Instead of criticising we must work for positive change. As we fumble through many strange qualifying formats we should ask ourselves what is the problem we are seeking to solve? How do any of these things help to solve that problem? What do we want from F1? Let’s take a step back to lovingly nurture our sport and let it grow, let us facilitate positive and exciting change rather than kicking it while it is down. For those who are truly disillusioned, take a short break, watch some Blancpain GT series, British GT championship or Asian Le Mans series, come back when you’re feeling ready but don’t add to the negativity. Don’t keep breaking it down until it is no more. You’ll miss it when it’s gone.