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New Formula One qualifying format approved by FIA

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The first qualifying session of the season will be in Melbourne on March 19.

Formula One
Formula One testing in Barcelona

Formula One's governing body has voted in favour of a new elimination-style qualifying format that will be implemented from this month's Australian season-opener, a well-placed source said on Friday.

Speaking from Geneva, where the FIA's World Motor Sport Council met earlier, the source told Reuters that the format was the same as one agreed last month by the Formula One Commission which includes teams and stakeholders.

Problems involving timing software that could have postponed the implementation of the new format have been resolved, the source said.

A full statement was expected to be issued later by the governing body.

The first qualifying session of the season will be in Melbourne on March 19.

Under the new procedure, the slowest drivers will be eliminated as the three sessions progress rather than at the end of each phase as was the case last season.

The first session will last 16 minutes with the slowest driver eliminated once seven minutes have lapsed. Another six will follow at 90-second intervals with 15 going through to the second phase.

The next session will last 15 minutes with the slowest driver eliminated after six. The same 90-second sequence follows until eight drivers are left.

The final 14 minutes see one driver eliminated after five minutes and then one every 90 seconds until two are left fighting for pole position with one-and-a-half minutes remaining.

Although the changed format was announced last week, commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone introduced an element of uncertainty when he said subsequently that the timing software could not be ready in time for Melbourne.

The 85-year-old Briton said then that it would take at least until the fifth race of the season in Spain.

The situation was further confused when team managers met during pre-season testing and proposed further tweaks that would have seen the first two phases changed before reverting to the old format for the final shootout for pole position.

The source told Reuters that the timing software problems had been sorted out, while the Council could only accept or reject rules put in front of it by the F1 commission and not amend them.


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