Verstappen’s Thrilling Lap Shows Why One-Lap Quali Needs To Return – WTF1
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Verstappen’s Thrilling Lap Shows Why One-Lap Quali Needs To Return

Saudi Arabian qualifying was epic, and there were many reasons why. It wasn’t just because the circuit is absolutely thrilling to watch, even if a little unnerving, or the fact that it’s the penultimate qualifying session in an epic championship battle that could prove crucial. 

But the biggest thing I took from qualifying is the fact that we got to watch Max Verstappen’s spectacular (but ultimately costly) lap in full, knowing that he could have taken pole position from Lewis Hamilton, who had finished his run.

It’s not something we see very often in F1 currently, as all the drivers wait until the last possible moment to set their laps when the track is rubbered in. We often miss most of the driver’s laps during qualifying, even the pole lap itself if the fastest driver is the one who crosses the line last, as the cameras will normally cut to the next car once the first has crossed the line.

We got to watch what would be Hamilton’s pole lap from start to finish, then Verstappen’s thrilling lap in full, the brush with the wall at turn two, him going purple in sector two and then finally the dramatic contact with the wall into the final turn.

Now imagine if we only got to see a few seconds of it or even missed seeing the crash live. It wouldn’t have been anywhere near as thrilling, would it?

With Hamilton finishing his lap with time still on the clock, and then Verstappen making his run, we got a taste of what one-shot qualifying could be like. Something we saw in the mid-2000s before the current knock-out system was implemented.

If you never watched one-lap qualifying, it saw drivers only getting one shot at their qualifying lap (well, duh) as they’d go out one-by-one.

Not only would we get to watch every driver’s lap in full (come on, we didn’t even get to see one second of Leclerc’s brilliant P4 lap), but there’d be a bunch of other benefits too.

F1 are desperate to try and spice up the races, and that always comes down to changing qualifying, and to be fair to them, it makes sense. The most exciting races often come from when the quicker cars are out of position, so mixing up the grid is the easiest way to make F1 more exciting.

Had it been one-lap qualifying and that was Verstappen’s hot lap, he’d have had to start at the back. I know what you’re thinking. Well, he wouldn’t have pushed as much but come on, it’s Max Verstappen.

Hamilton took pole, but even his qualifying session wasn’t without incident, locking up on his first run in Q1 and also having a big moment in Q3. These moments aren’t so dramatic as you know he’ll comfortably get through on his next run, but had that been one-shot qualifying, he’d also have been starting way down the order too.

So to summarise with one-lap qualifying… We get to watch EVERY drivers lap in full, mistakes are punished and mixed up grids are more likely…

One final quirk, we all loved that video of Fernando Alonso watching Max Verstappen’s final run. It could be a regular occurrence seeing drivers in the media pen as their rivals were out on track setting their lap. Imagine a camera on Hamilton as he watched that lap from Verstappen. Netflix would be licking their lips.

Would like to see F1 have one-shot qualifying? Let us know in the comments.

2 thoughts on “Verstappen’s Thrilling Lap Shows Why One-Lap Quali Needs To Return

  • Théo Schleret says:

    Maybe we could keep the current Q1-Q2-Q3 format, but with a one-lap run.
    I mean that for Q1 all drivers do 1 lap, the top 15 then can do a second one, and then the 10 last do a third one, with the laptimes being carried over the sessions, for example a driver did these runs :
    Q1 : 1’32
    Q2 : 1’30
    Q3 : crash
    So in the end the laptime to place him on the grid will be the best he did, so the 1’30 from Q2

    To me that would keep the suspense all the way long, with the overall session lasting 2h30 for a lap of 2 minutes. If it’s considerd to be too long, maybe just do a first session with all 20 drivers, and then a second one with the top 10, so it would make it last about 1h30.

  • I’d go for Q1 & Q2 left the same, then have the top 10 shootout be single lap, with the running order set based on Q2 times.

    It’ll make the first half an hour worth watching, gives the lower teams half a chance to be something other than circuit sweepers, and give a sensible way of establishing the running order in a self-contained way for a given weekend.

    I still remember in 2005 (once they’d sacked off the aggregate nonsense) where the order was determined based on the finishing order for the race before, which due to track evolution, amounted to about an unofficial 5 place grid drop for retiring. This also prevents quirks where the circuit characteristics from the race before have a serious bearing on the current weekend. (e.g. back-to-back “Merc tracks” compared to a “Merc track” followed by a “Red Bull track” mucking about with the order.)

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