The FIA has confirmed changes to the current qualifying format ahead of the opening round of the 2014 season in Australia.
The modifications were discussed and approved at the last F1 Strategy Group meeting, which took place during pre-season testing in Bahrain. Concerns were raised over drivers previously sitting out of the final qualifying session to save tyres for Sunday’s race.
The sport’s governing body published the updated Sporting Regulations today, confirming the tweaks to qualifying that were discussed at the meeting in Bahrain. The changes are to encourage drivers to set a lap time in the top 10 shoot-out and improve the spectacle.
Now, every driver that makes it through to Q3 will have an extra set of option tyres to use. The Pirelli rubber must then be returned to the FIA after the session.
Additionally, Q1 has been shortened from 20 to 18 minutes and the final session has been extended from 10 to 12 minutes to allow drivers to complete more running.
Previously, drivers would start the race with the set of tyres that they set their fastest lap on in Q3. However, this has also changed due to the extra set of Pirelli rubber. Instead, they will now start on the set of tyres used to complete their quickest lap on in Q2.
Of course, the rule tweaks apply only if dry weather tyres were used in the second session. The overall number of tyre sets allocated to each driver in 2014 has increased from 11 to 13, due to the additional set for Q3 and the set of prime tyres that must be used in the first 30 minutes of first practice.
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic