Live elimination qualifying procedure agreed for Australian Grand Prix


F1 will proceed with the new live elimination qualifying procedure at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix after it was ratified by the FIA.

Last week the F1 Commission and Strategy Group agreed to tweak the rules of qualifying for the coming season, opting for a live elimination format over the three sessions. Bernie Ecclestone then said the new format would be delayed until Spain because the necessary timing software was not ready, but the potential glitches have now been ironed out and the new system is set to go ahead despite some driver opposition.

The uncertainty over the qualifying procedure so close to the season led to criticism from drivers, with Fernando Alonso saying it made him "sad" for the sport and Sebastian Vettel claiming the controversy proved F1 lacked decisive leadership.

Williams' deputy team principal Claire Williams defended the new format, saying: "I think it's really important to remember the whole purpose of looking at qualifying was to try and shake up the grid to go into the race and make races a little bit more exciting. I think it's too early to judge. I would like to get to Melbourne, see how it plays out, and then we'll comment upon it. But I think the objective and the reasons why we have looked at it and changed it are well meaning, and I think we should reserve criticism until we see play out."

Williams also said the timing software, the original reason for the proposed delay, has now been "worked out" so the new programme can proceed in full.