Domenicali calls for qualifying tweak
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali has called for a shakeup in the qualifying and tyre regulations to encourage all cars to take part in the top ten shootout.
Slower drivers in the top ten have increasingly opted out of setting a time in Q3 in order to save fresh sets of tyres for the race. With degradation such a significant factor on Sundays this year, it often makes no sense for drivers who are likely to qualify ninth or tenth setting a time.
At this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix, however, four drivers failed to set a time in Q3, with Bruno Senna, Vitaly Petrov and Kamui Kobayashi opting not to set a time while Michael Schumacher ran out of time ahead of the chequered flag.
"Once again today, as has happened before during this season, we have seen cars - no less than four in Q3 - give up on doing a flying lap," Domenicali said. "Far be it for me to criticise those who made this choice, which is absolutely respectable from a technical point of view, I think it shows something is not right in the way qualifying is run and we should give it some careful thought for the future, because I don't think it's such a good thing for the spectators in the grandstand, who, I must say here are amazing in the way they make you feel their passion for Formula One and for those who are watching on television."
Pirelli has suggested qualifying tyres as a possible solution so that drivers do not have to worry about taking used rubber into the race, but so far the teams have failed to agree on the proposal. Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery said his company can only suggest ideas and does not make the rules.
"It now seems to become a trend that some cars qualifying in Q3 do not set a time in order to save tyres, so we will be working with the teams and the FIA to find a solution that is acceptable to everybody to avoid this kind of scenario in the future, as it is not fair on the spectators," he said. "We have made a number of proposals in the past, which the teams rejected, but today showed that this remains a problem, which we would like to solve."