Formula One‘s attempt to mix up the grid during qualifying should never be considered in the opinion of 2009 World champion Jenson Button. As one of the closest of the current drivers to have experienced the older era methods, without the use of DRS and other such aids, the McLaren man believes the guy on pole should be whoever puts in the fastest lap when it counts.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, Button advised:
“Formula 1’s never been like that and it shouldn’t be like that. Mix the grids up in other formulas but in Formula 1, it’s not necessary. There are other things we can do to make the sport better.”
“It’s supposed to be the quickest guy starts at the front and the slowest starts at the back – and then you deal with it in the race. It’s the way the sport’s been in the last 60, 70 years. It’s not changed.”
The continuing need to shake things up through gimmicks and fads, including the much maligned elimination qualifying, has long agitated teams, drivers and fans, who would rather see pure driver skill and pace being highlighted, than crazy systems throwing a spanner in the works to put on a fake show. So far, F1 Chief’s have not been able to come up with an idea that pleases all, which is why Button believes it should be left to the teams to come up with a joint solution:
“I think it’s a great idea [for the teams to look into qualifying]. I think they’re the right people to look at changing the format if it’s necessary. New ideas are always exciting, it’s a sport that’s always moving, technology is always moving on and I think it’s great that we see improvements and trying new things.”
“The important thing is that if we try something and it doesn’t work, we need to revert back to what did work.”
For the Brit, it is the huge gap between the fastest cars and the rest of the field, that is dulling the spectacle:
“I think, the pace delta is a little bit different, bigger than it has been – but it’s not the fault of Mercedes, it’s the fault of everyone else not doing a good enough job.”
“So… no, qualifying should be exactly as it is, the quickest guy starts on the front row. It’s still getting mixed up, you know, with Lewis’ bad starts of the Ferrari’s great starts in Melbourne – it’s very mixed up.
“I think the problem is there’s such a difference between the first two teams and everyone else that the racing doesn’t look as exciting. But where I’ve been racing, it’s been very exciting, there’s been a lot of action.”
“I watched the Brazil qualifying from 2003 and one second, I think, covered the top 15, five tenths for the top 10. And we’re so far from that at the moment. It’s a shame because you look at the cars and they all look the same, so it’s amazing there’s such a difference in laptime”.
In order to improve the show and avoid F1 Bosses continually messing around with the current set-up, the solution is simple in theory – the rest of the teams on the grid must do whatever it takes to catch Mercedes, be that through rule changes or not, they need to up their game and bridge that gap.