Fernando Alonso believes that qualifying in Formula 1 is no longer the pleasurable and thrilling exercise that it used to be, insisting the format is “obsolete” and in need of a big change.
Alonso's criticism stems from the complexities and safety concerns that have arisen under the current format, such as traffic management and impeding, or track limit issues.
In Abu Dhabi, FIA race director Niels Wittich added another layer of adjustment by prohibiting overtaking in the pit exit at Yas Marina.
“The qualifying format is obsolete,” commented Alonso. “We cannot have these things and this stress.
“It used to be the best session of the weekend where the cars come alive, you drive these very fast cars. And now it’s the worst session of the weekend for the teams, for drivers, for traffic management, for track limits, going to the stewards, not respecting the delta, impeding people, deleting the laps.
“We are all happy that it’s over and it should not be like that.”
Alonso's stance is not new, as he has previously called for a change to the format.
But his recent comments highlight the growing sentiment among drivers and fans that the current qualifying system is in dire need of an overhaul.
The F1 veteran has previously recommended a return to single-lap qualifying which would eliminate many of the current issues and restore the excitement and purity of qualifying sessions.
The Aston Martin charger believes that F1’s current format involves too much risk, which only adds to the stress.
“You’re risking more unfortunately, because there is no way that you can be a bit calmer in one corner and lose one tenth [of a second],” he said.
“You cannot afford that anymore because you are out of the session. So I think it’s very stressful for everyone.
“Also the track limits is a very painful matter that we go through on every lap. But it’s the same for everybody so we try to execute it better.”
Beyond his grievances, Alonso was satisfied overall with his seventh-place performance in Saturday evening’s shootout at Yas Marina.
“I was expecting less, actually,” he admitted. “After [final practice], I think we were 14th and 15th. We had some concerns about the pace of the car and the set-up and we were thinking what to do into qualifying.
“Even in Q1, I only went through P13. So I thought it was a tough Saturday for us. But then we followed the track evolution, we got more confidence with the car and then P7 is definitely the best result we were hoping for.”