It doesn’t come as much surprise that BMW boss Mario Theissen wants changes to be made to the qualifying procedure as soon as possible. BMW driver Nick Heidfeld was unnecessarily held up while attempting to qualify in Malaysia. The incident can only really be described as ridiculous and dangerous. The videos and article can be viewed via this link, but needless to say Thiessen is backed by an awful lot of people.
I talked to Charlie Whiting on Saturday night, not about the specific case but about the issue of having cars with a differential speed of 200km/h on the same lap. It is something that must not happen. Mario Teissen.
I don’t think you’ll find many people disagreeing with Mario’s statement; 200km/h impacts can kill. In fact, they have. I don’t know at what speed Gilles Villeneuve was doing when he came across Jochen Mass in the ’82 Belgian Grand Prix qualifying session, but it was sufficient enough to make me wince when I saw the video. For younger readers who may not know, Villeneuve and his seat were thrown clear of the car, his helmet came off and a fence stopped the Canadian at the side of the track. Villeneuve died from his injuries later that evening.
When Theissen was later asked if the FIA (whom Whiting works for as race director) would change the rules, the BMW boss gave a confident “absolutely” in reply. I for one hope it was a genuine approval from the FIA. While the tragic circumstances in which Villeneuve died are unlikely to reoccur, violent accidents still happen when fast cars meet slow cars. Robert Kubica’s accident at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was less than twelve months ago. I don’t believe in luck, but I think I’m allowed to contradict myself and suggest the Pole had some that day.
There has been many suggestions put forward across the F1-blogosphere regarding a solution, but it seems that a maximum lap time is the one currently being discussed by the FIA. We shall wait and see what idea, if any, Formula One’s governing body come up with. Although I’m already confident it will be unnecessarily convoluted, complex, hard-to-police and down-right stupid. But then, I just want to see cars driving at their fastest without penalty of fuel or tyres. That, in my mind, is what qualifying is.
Image courtesy of BMW.