Fernando Alonso is unhappy about F1’s current qualifying regulations, thinking it gives the big teams an advantage, especially on circuits such as the Red Bull ring.
F1’s current qualifying rules state that a driver qualifying in Q3 will have to start Sunday’s race with the same tires that allowed him to make his best time in Q2. However, on high tire degradation circuits, starting on soft tires could prevent a one-stop strategy.
Last week, during the Styrian Grand Prix, it already proved to be difficult for most of the teams to make a one-stop strategy stick. Bottas went as far as to say that his degradation was so high during his second stint that it felt “more like rallying in Finnish Lapland than F1 in Austria.”
To spice things up, Pirelli decided to go one notch softer for the second Austrian race, selecting the C3, C4, and C5 compounds of their range instead of the C2, C3, C4 combination used last week.
This means that the medium tire of last week will now become the hard tire and the soft tire of last week will become the medium tire of this week. The teams should therefore have a hard time making a one-stop strategy stick and some drivers, if not most, will probably opt for a safer two-stops strategy.
The biggest teams will however have a considerable advantage if they manage to pass through Q2 on medium or even hard tires. This could increase the gap to smaller teams that will be forced to qualify on soft tires and therefore start the race with a strategic disadvantage. Alonso spoke his mind on the topic and thinks this new rule is just widening the gaps between small and big teams instead of making the sport more interesting.
“I don’t think that Austria is our best circuit,” Alonso said.
“Unfortunately we have two races here, so we have to manage the damage that we can have in terms of points. I think we’ve done it very well in race one, because we did score one more point than AlphaTauri, and two less than Aston Martin.”
“But in race two, I think it’s going to be another challenging weekend.”
“It’s going to be a challenge to do one [pit] stop. If you start with a C5 [soft tire], maybe it’s more difficult.”
“The fast cars have the luxury to avoid that tyre and in the midfield we don’t have that luxury.”
“That’s the bad thing about the rules. They try to invent one rule that could benefit the show, and they just benefit the big teams.”