Written by Andrew Lwanga, Edited by Harshi Vashee
Formula E is finally set to change its qualifying format. The format which has been subject of criticism mostly from the drivers since its introduction is expected to be entirely scrapped for a new system to be employed next season.
Since it’s fifth season, which ran from 2018 to 19, Formula E used a group qualifying system. Drivers were divided into groups of 6 arranged in descending Championship order, with the six highest placed drivers hitting the track first. With less rubber on the racing line of what is often termed a “green track”, thus meaning more often than not, the first group composed of the drivers leading the Championship would have the worst track conditions of all.
Although it aims to act as a success ballast, in effect this system punishes drivers for being good. However it was very successful in keeping the Championship fight alive as was seen in the most recent 2020-21 season where more than half the grid were still in title contention come the last race. Though entertaining to the fans, this sentiment wasn’t shared by the drivers with eventual Champion Nyck De Vries calling the title fight “manufactured”.
Whether successful or not Formula E now aims to completely revamp the format in favour of a tournament style format which Formula E co-founder Alberto Longo hopes will be much easier for fans to understand.
The new system will divide the grid into two groups with the four fastest from each progressing to a one on one knockout round.
Speaking at a press conference in Mexico, Longo explained that the new format aims to simplify Formula E’s race format
“We’ve gone back to basics, but we also like to be innovative. This format is very understandable because everyone understands a tennis tournament finals draw. Visually it is very attractive and on television we will offer something spectacular.”
“The key is in the first two groups of 11 drivers each, the drivers will have the opportunity to do several fast laps during the 12 minutes that qualifying will last. After that we will define the four fastest in each group.”
“In the quarter-final round, the fastest from group one will face off against the fourth placed driver from group two and so on.”
“From there, we will move on to the semi-final and the two finalists. Whoever wins that duel will be the pole sitter.”
Longo further disclosed that the advice for the new format came to him from driver Sam Bird.
The new format expects to be ratified when the FIA World Motorsport Council meets later this week on the 15th of October.