On the eve of a new season, really just a couple of weeks before the first Grand Prix in Australia, we have a new qualifying format to understand, but was the change really needed?
Well, to think about what happens in qualifying, you have to see what is happening in the race. For the majority of the time, it has been suggested that fans think the races are dull, apart from when there are mitigating circumstances like rain. It creates unpredictability, and therefore more exciting to watch.
With Mercedes clearly ahead of the pack, you know that unless there was a problem they would be at the front in qualifying and stay at the front through the race, able to control the pace throughout. You can even track this back to the Red Bull days when they won their four world championships, with Sebastian Vettel at the front in his customary style leading and controlling the pack.
Drastic changes were floated for the race, including shortening it to condense racing, proposals were seen not to be in the style of the sport, so one way of creating more exciting racing would be to find a fair way of possibly mixing up the grid a little. Bernie Ecclestone floated the idea of reversed grids, but die-hard fans would be totally opposed to such a artificial measure, so a compromise has been found.
With this new knockout style qualifying, it will be easier for a driver to be locked into a lower qualifying spot if he makes a mistake, given that one drops out every 90 seconds. It is hoped that this will mix up the grid to provide better racing on Sunday.
We have to remember that not every race is going to be classic, especially with 21 on the calendar for 2016, but with viewer numbers falling across many of the key markets, it is hoped more exciting racing will attract more casual fans.
Image via Force India