It appears that three things are certain in Formula 1 the way the sport is unfolding in 2019.
First is, the triumph of Mercedes. With four straight 1-2 finishes, it doesn’t appear that any other team would be able to dethrone the Silver Arrows from their position anytime soon.
Second is the fate of Ferrari, quick in one qualifying session and at best, managing an odd pole if not a consistent podium finishes in a Grand Prix. It’s rather surprising and not just to the Scuderia fans that the best a Ferrari has been able to manage in the 4 races so far is a P3, as seen in China, Bahrain, Baku.
And third is drivers, being penalized for something or the other as seen in the qualifying battles in the lead up to the main race on Sunday.
So far, we have seen the likes of Kimi Raikkonen and Pierre Gasly at Baku and Alex Albon at China as some of the noted names on the grid to have had the ignominy of beginning their contest from the pit-lane.
And truth be told, it can never be that easy to win a battle when your chances are so limited, having to begin a Grand Prix from the pit lane. As it is, there’s hardly a dearth of imminent dangers for the drivers such as a practice session being red-flagged due to some mishap or negligence, as seen in George Russell’s case at Azerbaijan, the Briton now slated to be compensated by the promoters of the Grand Prix.
But against the dominant narrative, a question arises.
Can Formula 1 do away with stringent and cut-throat penalties and rules during qualifying? Moreover, can the likes of Christian Horner, who have put forth an urgent and kind suggestion ever be heard and their ideas be implemented?
The main perspective about Formula 1 is that the qualifying runs split between free practice on Friday and the battle for pole on Saturday make it a rather exhaustive process. This cannot be easy for drivers who unlike their predecessors of the eighties, no longer hold absolute control of the proceedings, with much of F1 being primed in aspects like technology.
On that note, experts like the Red Bull Team-Principal Christian Horner (among the astute thinkers of the sport), someone who’s witnessed nearly half a decade of pure dominance (given Vettel’s 2010-13 triumphs) and being responsible for shaping much of Verstappen’s career offer an interesting theory to normalize matters.
So what does Christian Horner think of the current practise and qualifying dimension in F1?
A leading motorsports journal quoted Christian Horner as saying the following:
“I think that depends on how many races we end up with. If we end up with more races, then arguably we do need to condense the time,” Horner said.
“We saw one session worked well enough on Friday here. Maybe one good session is the way to go. Then parts and people could turn up a little bit later.
“One session is enough for the weekend.”
In fact, Christian Horner, among the outspoken voices from the paddock and team garage had also shared that contests such as the 2019 Azerbaijan GP would much rather have had 1 practice session and therefore, a more simpler qualifying battle leading to the main race event. That told, can F1 work toward reorienting a race-weekend completely?