Fernando Alonso blasted Formula 1 qualifying after a hectic Saturday at the 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, calling it obsolete and saying it’s gone from the best session of the weekend to the worst.
Complaints over Max Verstappen‘s pit lane overtake in FP3 forced the stewards to ban any passing in the pit exit – which drew the Dutchman’s ire in Q3 – with Alonso‘s unhurried nature leaving the pits holding up a queue of drivers behind.
However, it’s just the latest chapter in a 2023 F1 season that’s seen it all – fantastic qualifying sessions coupled with no end of controversies from drivers blocking the pit exit, to a thoroughly pointless minimum lap time introduced, a track limits mess every other week and much more besides.
“I think it didn’t change much,” Alonso told the media when asked about the stewards’ Abu Dhabi intervention. “But it proves that the qualifying format is obsolete.
“We can’t have these things and this stress, it used to be the best session of the weekend where you drive these very fast cars, the cars come alive, and now it’s the worst session of the weekend.
“For the teams, for the drivers, for traffic management, for track limits. Going to the stewards, not respecting the [minimum lap] delta, impeding people, deleting the laps, we are all happy that is over. And it shouldn’t be like that.”
Qualifying very complex in Abu Dhabi
Alonso was able to ride the storm in qualifying (figuratively, the desert air was as dry as ever) all the way to seventh place despite close calls in both Q1 and Q2.
His Aston Martin teammate wasn’t so lucky though, Lance Stroll will start the Abu Dhabi GP 13th behind Alex Albon, Nico Hulkenberg and Yuki Tsunoda.
“I think it was low grip in general and I was struggling a little bit in braking performance to really stop the car where I wanted,” Alonso added.
“And having the feedback from the car to follow the track evolution, it’s a very complex qualifying here in Abu Dhabi.
“You go through the daytime to the night so the track gets grippier, more rubber down. But then at the same time you go from new tyres at the end of Q1 to a scrubbed tyre at the beginning of Q2, and same sequence in Q2 to Q3.
“So every time you do there is track evolution but also the tyres keep changing all the time. So this is very complex for the driver, today it was it was a good one but not for this.”