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Last Updated: Monday, 28 June, 2004, 16:43 GMT 17:43 UK
F1 scraps qualifying change
The Ferraris lead the field at the start of the US Grand Prix
Formula One grids have become predictable again this season
Formula One bosses have scrapped plans to change the format of qualifying for next month's British Grand Prix.

F1 commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone said governing body the FIA had vetoed an idea to replace the one-lap format with two free-for-all sessions.

"No change at all - just as boring as it was before," Ecclestone said after a meeting of the F1 Commission on Monday.

FIA president Max Mosley said that teams and sponsors were concerned they might lose out on television coverage.

The 10 team bosses had previously agreed unanimously to change the one-car-at-a-time, single-lap format from the British Grand Prix on July 11 to one involving two 25-minute free-for-all sessions with aggregate times deciding the starting grid.

But Mosley told Reuters: "There was also a feeling that the proposal wasn't much different to what we were doing in 2002 and maybe it needed something a little bit more radical."

We announced a change, everybody agreed to it and now we've suddenly had it stopped - it sends a bad message out
Tony Purnell
Jaguar F1 boss
Mosley said the sport would now do some market research and "ask the public what they want - probably through the television companies, but that's a matter for Bernie.

"I think he would prefer to change but I think he's quite easy about it."

The one-lap format was introduced at the start of 2003 in an attempt to introduce some variability into the grids and by extension the races.

Originally, it featured a session on Friday that decided the order in which cars would run in the decisive final session on Saturday.

That was changed for the start of this season with the sessions running back to back.

The idea behind the change was to force broadcasters to show both sessions.

But the plan backfired when there was widespread condemnation of the new format from the first race this year by broadcasters and insiders as being too long.

Bernie Ecclestone
Ecclestone thinks the current qualifying system is boring
It was changed after a handful of races to enable the TV companies to show only the final session.

But there have been continued demands for change as teams have grown used to the requirements of the new format and grids have become predictable again.

BAR boss David Richards said at the last race that the new proposals would make racing less exciting and more predictable and he did not think it was the right way ahead.

But Jaguar boss Tony Purnell said after Mondays meeting: "We announced a change, everybody agreed to it and now we've suddenly had it stopped. I'm bemused by it. I think it's bad for Formula One, it sends a bad message out.

"Bernie was the prime mover and I was a bit surprised that he didn't seem very passionate about keeping it. I'm a bit lost by it. I'm mystified."

Eddie Jordan said that a strong objection to the change came from Minardi's Paul Stoddart, who feared the revival of a defunct rule under which drivers are excluded if they fail to register a qualifying time within 107% of the fastest.

"Paul claimed that there were at least three or four races where it (the change) would make it very difficult to comply with that and on that basis he didn't therefore support what he had signed," said Jordan.

"It was agreed therefore to get further evidence."




SEE ALSO
F1 qualifying changes again
13 Jun 04  |  Formula One


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