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Views from the Paddock - what team bosses think is the ideal qualifying format 16 Aug 2004

Flavio Briatore (ITA) Renault Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, Practice Day, Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal, Canada, 11 June 2004 Frank Williams (GBR) Williams Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, German Grand Prix, Practice Day, Hockenheim, Germany, 23 July 2004 David Pitchforth (GBR) Jaguar Managing Director.
Formula One World Championship, Rd13, Hungarian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary, 14 August 2004 David Richards (GBR) BAR Team Principal in the FIA press conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, United States Grand Prix, Practice Day, Indianapolis, USA, 18 June 2004 Eddie Jordan (IRE) at the Grand Prix Party.
British Grand Prix, Grand Prix Party, Silverstone, England, 11 July 2004

The perfect qualifying format seems to be something that everyone in the Formula One paddock has a view on. But finding one way of pleasing everyone - big teams, small teams, sponsors and spectators - is far from easy. So how would the team bosses go about achieving the impossible? We got their views on the matter.

Flavio Briatore, Renault: “It’s not possible to create something for everybody. In the end you will always upset someone. In my opinion the ballot (choosing the top ten of the grid at random from the ten fastest qualifiers) would be the best solution because it would give the ten fastest drivers a chance to have a different grid for Sunday. The smaller teams would be unharmed because if you are 11th you stay 11th. For the spectators it would be great because it’s not predictable as it is now. The grid would be (decided) one hour before the race and that would be fantastic.”

Paul Stoddart, Minardi: “I could go for the solution that was brought in by (Jaguar’s) Tony Purnell with the lottery on Friday what would give Friday a real meaning and on Saturday reversed. That really could do it for the spectators. We have to remember that without the spectators there would not be a thing called Formula One. And it would support the smaller teams in terms of media coverage it would at least be thinkable to see a Minardi on pole. It would be fair as it would work on a lottery and not on how much money you are able to spend.”

David Richards, BAR: ”We have so many solutions discussed. As it is now I would draw them from a hat. That would make a great race. Maybe not a great qualifying but in the end we are all here for a great race.”

David Pitchforth, Jaguar: “The proposal that was brought in earlier this year and that was set to change qualifying from Silverstone on would be my favourite choice because it would make the spectacle exciting again. It would have been better for all the teams although I can imagine that some of the smaller teams would not have been happy with it. But at that time we at least were close to a practicable decision and I think we should all have pushed harder at that point to solve that problem for the benefit of racing.”

Frank Williams, Williams: ”The system we have does not seem to please the fans. That’s why we have to change it. But there is no such thing as a perfect qualifying that would please everybody. Bernie’s proposal that was brought in two months ago did not pass but had its merits. Maybe we should go back to what we had some years ago, it was good but it used up a lot of engines. That’s the reason why we had to stop it.”

Tsutomu Tomita, Toyota: ”Toyota is willing to support any changes to the qualifying system that will improve the overall spectacle of Formula One for fans, TV viewers and sponsors. We finally believe that we should follow a sort of customer satisfaction approach. But we have not conducted any research into what exactly the fans want to see from F1 qualifying. This should b an official survey carried out by FIA, rather than relying solely on the many differing opinions inside the paddock. This fan survey should be carried out before we make any decision concerning the qualifying format.”

Jean Todt, Ferrari: “You have to talk to my press officer.”

Eddie Jordan, Jordan:“It’s difficult to keep everybody happy. We had three qualifying systems in the last two to three years and nobody is really happy yet. The problem is that you cannot satisfy the small teams only neither the big teams nor the fans or the sponsors. But our sponsors say that they want exposure so we have to find a bridging of all interests involved. And let’s hope there will be a solution soon.”