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Should Formula One adopt the Formula E qualifying system?

Should Formula One adopt the Formula E qualifying system?

Should Formula One adopt the Formula E qualifying system?

Should Formula One adopt the Formula E qualifying system?

Formula E saw nine different winners from thirteen ePrix in Season Five and there were very few dull moments in the championship. One of the main reasons for this is the way that qualifying is structured and, with Formula One constantly looking at ways to improve the spectacle, maybe the championship should be looking at it's electric counterpart.

Taking place almost exclusively on street circuits, Formula E has grown in popularity due to the close, unpredictable and racing and, especially given the current climate crisis, the green, clean energy message that the championship promotes.

Whenever Chase Carey, Formula One Chairman and CEO, speaks, he conveys a message about wanting to improve the show, the spectacle. Despite various tweaks and changes, chiefly the large aerodynamic regulation changes for 2017, the races have remained largely predictable, with even those races that were lauded as some of the best ever being won by drivers that could have been predicted before a wheel was turned.

Formula E enjoyed nine different winners from thirteen ePrix in Seascon Five (2018-19). Compare this to Formula One and, in the 21 Grand Prix, there were only five different winners.

However, while 2019 was a more competitive year for Formula One, to reach a total of nine different winners, and not nine in one season, you have to go back to the Spanish Grand Prix in 2013. In 136 Grand Prix, only nine different drivers have sprayed the winners champagne.

Fernando Alonso took that win in Spain but, since then, only Kimi Raikkonen (1), Charles Leclerc (2), Daniel Ricciardo (7), Valtteri Bottas (7), Max Verstappen (8), Nico Rosberg (22), Sebastian Vettel (25) and Lewis Hamilton (63) have been victorious.

Looking at the number of different constructors to take victory, the statistics are even worse for Formula One. Again looking at the most recent Formula E season, eight different constructors took race wins.

Obviously, in Formula E, the changes that can be made to the base chassis are extremely limited and a far larger focus is put on the electric motor, but still, the past decade of Grand Prix racing has seen just six different teams win - Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari the only teams to win the second race of 2013. Kimi Raikkonen won the Australian Grand Prix that year for Lotus.

Clearly, something need to be done to shakeup the order and the obvious place to look is qualifying.

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Now I am not saying that there is anything wrong with the current format. It's entertaining and, from a sponsor's point of view, the cars spend a lot of time on the track which yields a higher value on their investments. The point of qualifying is also to get the quickest drivers at the front and the slowest at the back. By any measure, there is only so much good racing that this will even provide, and Formula E has the solution.

Divided into four groups by championship order, five cars would take to the track at a time - assuming a 20-car field in 2021. The first group of five are those at the top of the championship. This would mean that, rather than force the 'slower' cars to clear the track and rubber it in, the stronger entries have to cope with the track in a sub-optimal condition.

Each driver is only permitted one flying lap within their groups 10-minute window and, if a driver gets caught out by yellow flags, that's their lap done. There is no chance to go again.

After the five championship leaders have run, the next five would have their time and so on.

Grid positions six through 20 are set by this with the top five progressing to 'Super Pole'. The top five would run again to claim their grid slot and the grid could potentially look a lot different to the regular Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari dominance on the front three rows.

Formula One has tried one-shot qualifying before and, while the weather occasionally provided some entertainment, the championship leader always went out last. This meant that, assuming the weather remained constant, the championship leader was given a helping hand to stay there.

This system, the Formula E system has produced some of the most edge-of-your-seat qualifying in motorsport in recent years and, with championship favourites often starting down the order, predicting a winner has been a near impossible task.

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One final reason why Formula One should follow this model is by looking at what makes for an exciting race. Obviously, weather is completely out of control but is a fun variable when the rain does decide to arrive, but most exciting races come when Hamilton or Verstappen are starting towards the back of the order.

Fans know that they will see overtaking, different strategies and a battle to the end. Even the German Grand Prix in 2019 - Sebastian Vettel started at the back and there was excitement surrounding the race that he had to look forward to even before the rain came and brought even more chaotic excitement.

No sport will ever be perfect and there will always be aspects of the sport that fans, the media, teams and drivers will want to change, but this change is just one example of why Liberty Media should look elsewhere for inspiration.

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