F1 commercial rights chief Bernie Ecclestone admits the new elimination-style qualifying format will not be introduced until at least the Spanish Grand Prix, as the required timing software is not ready yet.
Following crucial meetings this week of the Strategy Group and F1 Commission about the future of the sport, the FIA said it wanted to introduce the new knockout system “potentially as soon as the beginning of the 2016 season.”
However, Ecclestoned explained to The Independent that more time is required to make sure the timing software is up and running properly, with F1 set to use the current format over the first four grands prix.
“The new qualifying won't happen because we can't get everything together in time,” Ecclestone told The Independent.
“It was going to come in at the start of this year but we are not going to be able to get all the software done in time.
“So the qualifying changes will probably be in Spain. In Australia, it will be the old qualifying. All of the software has to be written so it's not easy.”
The new qualifying format has so far received tepid support from teams and drivers, who feel that Saturday’s session did not need to given an overhaul. Ecclestone now reveals he actually more radical plans in mind to improve qualifying and spice up the show.
“It's not what I wanted in the end,” the 85-year-old supremo added. “All I'm trying to do is muddle up the grid so that the guy that is quickest in qualifying doesn't sit on pole and disappear because why should he be slow in the race if he is quick in qualifying?
“I wanted a very simple thing. I wanted qualifying to stay as it is, because it is good, and then if a guy is on pole and has won the last race he gets so many seconds added to his time so he has to fight through the bloody pack to get in the lead, which he would do in the end.
“It would be exciting racing while he is doing it.”
Ecclestone's comments about the technical delays could well put the new qualifying plan under threat as it may be dropped rather than introduced mid-season.