Monday, March 07, 2005

Raingods (But Not Drivers) Dancing

The Formula 1 season kicked off this weekend in Australia. It marked the debut of yet another revision of the sport's qualifying setup. The current scheme (until Malaysia, at least) consists of two single-lap qualifying sessions, one on Saturday and one on Sunday. The starting grid is determined based on the best combined times from each session. The idea was the make the first session mean something again. Well, it certainly did this weekend. The first session started off with a drying track, but the rains returned about midway through. As a result, the grid was hopelessly spread out, with some drivers not even making it through their timed lap. This rendered Sunday's sessions largely meaningless, because nobody could really change their position from day one.

At least one driver, David Coulthard, has called this system "kind of farcical," which I think is being kind. Yes, it reshuffles the grid, but the lack of overtaking (still) prevents the great charges from the back that you might see in ChampCar or sports car racing. They need to return to the good ol' days of timed sessions, run as many laps as you like, fastest man sits on pole system that worked for years.

Props to Coulthard for calling this setup what it is, given that he benefited from it this weekend.

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