Date: 15th March 2016 at 9:25am
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Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda has never been one for towing the corporate line and not speaking his mind.

And unsurprisingly he has not held his tongue in the discussions over the new Formula One qualifying format.

After some initial fears that the software required to run the new system and the graphics needed for the fans to understand what was going on wouldn’t be ready until May, Formula One announced that new gimmicky qualifying format would be in full use come the opening race in Australia.

The previous qualifying system of three sessions has proved hugely popular since its introduction in 2006.

In the past Formula One has had qualifying split over two days, changed to one day and at one stage was changed to just one lap.

All had issues of either not enough running time on track, or not enough excitement.

But this three session system ensured that every driver would complete three competitive laps to progress through to the pole position shoot-out, tyre regulation tweaks over the years also ensured that drivers do partake in the final session and do not instead opt for strategy for the race.

The new qualifying format of Formula One will retain the current three sessions, but the timings and the eliminations will alter.

Instead of drivers being eliminated at the end of each session, drivers will be knocked out at 90 second intervals during each session.

Q1 will last 16 minutes and after 7 minutes the first elimination will be made with the slowest driver knocked out. From that point onward another driver will be knocked out every 90 seconds until the session ends.

Q2 will last 15 minutes with the remaining 15 drivers taking part. After 6 minutes the first elimination will be made with the slowest driver knocked out and again from that point onward another driver would be knocked out every 90 seconds until the session ends.

Q3 will consist of just 8 drivers instead of the previous 10 and the session will increase from 10 to 14 minutes.

After 5 minutes, 8th place on the grid will be decided with the slowest driver of Q3 eliminated. Then every 90 seconds another driver will be knocked out to make up the grid.

The idea is that it will add an element of unpredictability to qualifying.

The changes haven’t proved popular with the drivers, who held a meeting with FIA race director Charlie Whiting during the winter tests in Barcelona.

But despite their reservations the new rules were approved and implemented for the 2016 and it appears mainly on the thought that it was the best of a two poor ideas.

‘The new format seems stupid, I am part of the Strategy Group and Ecclestone came up with the idea that it would be necessary to change something in the fight for pole position in order to make it more competitive. Lauda told Gazzetta dello Sport.

‘The initial proposal was to reverse the grid, with the fastest time in 10th place and so on.

‘For us at Mercedes it was not a compelling idea. So it was better to accept the other proposal, though I don’t know if everything will be ready in Melbourne to deliver it.’

Let’s wait and see how it works.

For those at the track is seems a complicated process and one that will be difficult to follow. Lets hope that its a little easier on television.

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