Phew. Formula One’s elimination qualifying format is officially dead after two unsuccessful attempts to make it work. The FIA formally approved the reversal to the 2015 qualifying format, reports the BBC. That was the last hurdle the reversal had to clear to go into action before the Chinese Grand Prix.
Of course, because it was the FIA who had the final say on the matter, everyone was nervous that they’d pull some kind of surprise string to make qualifying suck.
The FIA refused to acknowledge the teams’ desire to drop elimination qualifying entirely by bringing a modified version of elimination qualifying—not the option to revert back to 2015's three-round qualifying format—to a vote before the Bahrain Grand Prix. Because no one really wanted it in any form, we ended up with another race with a completely botched qualifying system.
However, the joint statement from FIA president Jean Todt and Bernie Ecclestone about tabling any qualifying format tweaks until 2017 made it sound pretty certain last week that we’d finally get qualifying back to normal.
Per the BBC, the FIA confirmed that the reversal had been approved unanimously by the final stakeholders in F1's legislative process: the F1 Commission, the FIA World Council, sponsors, circuits and even tire supplier Pirelli.
I’d imagine that Pirelli got tired of hearing about the one-lap specials contributing to elimination qualifying’s suckfest, too.
Either way, it’s finally back to normal, but keep an eye out for 2017. It sounds like we may get yet another change along with the myriad changes coming to the cars.