Qualifying revamp, a new tyre, and more engine noise for 2016

Matt Majendie 10:05 17/03/2016
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McLaren will be able to make more engine changes this season.

Not everyone is a fan but, in a bid to spice up the Saturday shoot-out of every weekend, which more often than not was not the spectacle fans had hoped, the copybook has been ripped up.

Now Q1 will last a total of 16 minutes with the slowest driver being eliminated from seven minutes in and then every minute-and-a-half until just 15 minutes remain.

Following a hiatus in the action, Q2 will last 15 minutes again with the slowest driver evicted six minutes into the session and every 90 seconds until just eight cars are left in action.

That top eight will fight it out in Q3 slightly shorter at 14 minutes with again the same policy of the slowest driver eliminated this time after five minutes and then at 90-second intervals until just the top two drivers battle it out for pole.

Whether they work remains to be seen and Bernie Ecclestone admitted: “I voted for them because I think we needed to do something. I’m not particularly sure that this will achieve exactly what we wanted to do but we’ve got to try it and see.”

Ecclestone and F1’s hierarchy at least appear to be listening to its global fan base in these latest revisions. As well as overhauling qualifying, cars will be noisier on the grid after complaints that F1’s automobiles had lost their required roar.

To enable such a crank up in decibels, each car has been designed with a separate waste gate for exhaust gases to pass through thereby creating more volume.

Another aspect brought into this season with the thinking that more unpredictability will emerge come race day is the introduction of a fifth tyre from Pirelli known as ultrasoft plus the option for teams to use three rather than two (as had been the case last season) sets of tyres at each grand prix weekend.

As for other changes, the ongoing row over engine upgrades has been partially resolved – although predictably not everyone is happy –  by increasing the number of tokens available (to 32) for teams to make changes. This is aimed particularly at enabling both Honda and Renault, who struggled to harness sufficient power last season, to catch up with the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari.

The final major change is safety which is unsurprising bearing in mind the death of former Manor driver Jules Bianchi last season after months in a coma.

Cars now have to pass tougher impact tests on their chassis to increase safety plus what has been called “a halo” is being tested for possible introduction in due course aimed at deflecting flying debris from a driver’s head.

Much like everything in F1, some of the changes will work and others won’t. Melbourne this weekend will help to give the first indication.

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