Leclerc reveals concerns with new F1 qualifying format

The new qualifying format using different tyre compounds in each part of the session will be trialled at the Hungarian GP.

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Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc has said that the extra jeopardy introduced by the new qualifying format shouldn’t be a part of Formula 1.

The Hungarian GP sees a tweak to the traditional qualifying format as teams are required to use all three compounds of tyre through the one-hour session.

In Q1 the hards are to be used, in Q2 the mediums, and in Q3 the teams can finally bolt on the soft compound.

The change comes as F1 seeks to become more environmentally sustainable, and the aim is that if the format is successful, then Pirelli can bring fewer tyres to the race weekends and ultimately reduce their production of tyres and consumption of associated materials.

While Leclerc will participate in the new format, he is not a big fan of the extra risk of being forced to use low-grip tyres.

“I don’t think that the jeopardy should be a part of the sport,” Leclerc said to the media. “I think that the best one should win.”

How will this affect teams?

The amendment may see teams that struggle with generating heat into the tyres come under extra risk of an early elimination, as they may not have the grip to set a time true to the actual pace of the car.

Leclerc said that the format can change the team programs throughout the weekend as they attempt to find the maximum one-lap pace on the harder compounds.

“It’s going to be very tricky the free practices and preparations are going to be mixed,” Leclerc said to the media. “I feel like we are going to see many different programs along the grid as there are so many different options you can choose with this new format.

“So we will see if it can be an opportunity. Obviously if you take the wrong decisions, you can have a bad day for your weekend but it’s part of the game.”

The nature of the Pirelli tyres means that temperature has to slowly be generated over several laps, otherwise the maximum length of the tyre life can be harmed.

And pushing too much on a low-grip tyre can often cause spins and leave the drivers fighting for control of the car as the 1000hp delivery of F1 engines exceeds the limit of the grip offered.

This presents a new challenge for the drivers to attempt to navigate a qualifying lap on a low-grip tyre, and could reward those willing to risk a little more than those at the front of the field with more to lose.

“I think Q1 and Q2 will be tricky with the different compounds,” Leclerc added to the media. “It’s something we’re not really used to, pushing on a hard tyre in a qualifying mode.

“So I think it will be quite new for everyone and this might be a surprise for a few people trying to get through.”

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