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GP Week : Issue 155
One of the hangovers from the 2011 season is the ongoing debate about running in Q3, and whether teams should be given an extra set of tyres to ensure that all cars go out on track in the final stage of Saturday’s qualifying. Tyre suppliers Pirelli are happy to supply the additional rubber, but the majority of teams are opposed to the idea despite pressure from fans to improve the qualifying spectacle. “I’ll put my foot in it,” Sir Frank Williams said. “I think it’s probably a good idea from the point of view that it maybe gives all teams a better chance. If you’re a really skilful team with a brilliant engineer to run and control things, and you’ve only got three sets of tyres, you’ll always get the best. “If you haven’t got such a person, you’re always going to be at a handicap. If there’s a fourth set, it may help out one of the weaker members. If there’s an extra bob or two involved in running those tyres, maybe you shouldn’t be in F1.” But the Williams team founder was a lone voice in the paddock, with his colleagues insisting that the qualifying show was fine as it stands. “We think the rule we have now is okay,” said Sauber CEO Monisha Kaltenborn. “We also wouldn’t be supporting extra tyres, and I think even if you look at the statistics that the amount – when teams do their strategies and don’t go out in Q3 – as most of these teams have anyway been doing a lot more laps earlier, so I don’t think it would really change much for the viewer. That’s what the figures say, at least.” Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn was in two minds, but – bizarrely – thinks that fans are interested to see which teams choose not to run. “I actually think there’s some interest in teams which don’t go out,” he said. “Of course people are here to see cars run and even when there’s some teams that don’t go out, you’ve got six or seven cars still competing hard for pole position. ... There are two sides to every coin and is the show spoilt by the fact that some of the cars at the back of Q1 don’t run? I’m not sure it is. I think everyone’s focused on what the guys fighting for pole are doing. But if there was genuine proof that the fans want ten cars running all the time in Q3 then we’d accept some extra tyres.” Despite the opposition in the paddock, it is highly likely that we will see either Q3 tyres or an adjustment to the current qualifying rules, as F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is in favour of improving the Saturday show for fans. “Bernie is keen on it,” Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery said in Monaco over the weekend. “He does not feel [the lack of track action in Q3] is good for TV.” Pirelli are willing to supply Q3 tyres, and have been ready to do so since the idea was first mooted last season. But Hembery accepts that the teams, by and large, are not in favour of the idea. “We appreciate the teams' point of view,” he said. “And it was unanimous when we last spoke to [the teams] that they felt the tactical intrigue created by not running and having fresh tyres was something that was good for the sport. Where the real solution in that lies I don't know. “We will offer what is needed and that can be anything from an extra set for those in Q3 to make them run, through to full qualifying for everybody. We are open to whatever solution the sport feels is best, but we feel running cars in Q3 is important.” Q3 TYRES TO RETURN AT BERNIE’S URGING? EDITOR: Adam Hay-Nicholls firstname.lastname@example.org ASSISTANT EDITORS: Naoise Holohan, Kate Walker F1 ANALYST: Peter Windsor MOTOGP EDITOR: Michael Scott email@example.com RALLY EDITOR: Martin Holmes firstname.lastname@example.org PRODUCTION ARTIST: Cedric Dufour PHOTOGRAPHY: Sutton Motorsport Images www.sutton-images.com Keith Sutton email@example.com: Mark Sutton, Patrik Lundin, Dirk Klynsmith, Emily Davenport PUBLISHER: Chris Lambden firstname.lastname@example.org PUBLISHED BY: Grand Prix Week Ltd 61 Watling Street, Towcester Northants NN12 6AG United Kingdom ADVERTISING: n Richard Partridge email@example.com Ph: + 44 1273 232 566 Mob: + 44 7771 567 644 n Mark Sutton firstname.lastname@example.org n Gaye Grinsted (WRC/MotoGP) email@example.com Ph: +44 (0) 207 254 8796 Mob: +44 (0) 7921 283 070 n Adam Hay-Nicholls firstname.lastname@example.org n SE Asia, Australasia GPWEEK (Australia) email@example.com .com WEEK 4 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> NEWS