“After talking with the teams and the FIA we came to the conclusion that whoever wins the Sprint Qualifying will be on pole. And so it will be for the statistics, pole position will go to him“, Music and words by Ross Brawn, the F1 sporting director, who made it clear what will happen in the 100km fast races, which will be seen on the track for the first time at Silverstone on July 17th. The other hypothesis on the table was to hand over the pole for the Sunday afternoon classic race to the fastest of Friday practice, on a statistical and / or material level. The sense of pole position fails, stretched and sacrificed on the altar of novelty, right on one of the tracks with the greatest history of the entire championship, site of the first world championship race in 1950.
Historical excursus. In races at the beginning of the last century, the positions on the grid were determined by a draw, an expedient that ended with the Tripoli GP in March 1933 won by Tazio Nuvolari in the Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeo P3. From the next appointment, thanks to Anthony Noghes, it was decided to reward the lap times set in the practice session. It was the Monaco Grand Prix on 23 April 1933 and the pole was conquered by Achille Varzi on a Bugatti Tipo 51. When Formula 1 saw the light in 1950 it was natural to continue on this path: one hour of rehearsals on Friday and one on Saturday, with the combined ranking of times to decide the starting order.
Saturday afternoon fever
Things changed in 1996, when a single one-hour session was opted for on Saturday, with the riders being able to complete a maximum of 12 laps in 3 outings. The system lasted six years, and in 2003 another – much criticized – modification was introduced which provided for a single qualifying lap for the drivers, without traffic and with the fuel needed for the first part of the race on board. The petrol loading tactic that influences the dry lap, or how to complicate the bread In 2005 it was possible to further complicate everything, moving light years away from the fastest driver equation = pole position. The times recorded with the single lap on the track without traffic in the qualifying sessions on Saturday and Sunday morning were added together. This strange formula included the lap with the tank empty on Saturday and loaded for the first part of the race on Sunday. It lasted six GPs, before returning to the system the previous year.
In 2006 the format of Q1, Q2 and Q3 was introduced, and in the latter segment the drivers were again forced to take on gasoline for the first stint. With the elimination of refueling in 2010, the pole position was returned to unloaded tanks. The 2016 “hot chair” lasted just 2 races, which included the elimination of each driver with an anxiety-inducing backlash until the last two were left on the track to fight for pole. We therefore arrive at today’s formula – stabilized over time – with Q1, Q2 and Q3 (18, 15 and 12 minutes) and the elimination of 5 drivers per session.
F1 | Bahrain GP 2016 – Qualifying: Pole and record for Hamilton!
Undoubtedly the current format is one of the strengths of modern Formula 1, which also preserves the iconic value of man in pole position. With the introduction of Sprint Qualifying, pole will be awarded to the winner of the quick race. Even at a statistical level. Completely upsetting and trampling – not to use stronger terms – the sporting sense of the dry lap done to the max. Motivation? “Attract young people“(Cit. Ross Brawn). With all due respect to Ayrton Senna’s legendary 65 pole positions.