To the surprise of no one, the ‘musical chairs’ qualifying was run again on Saturday to collective cries for it to be scrapped.
“It’s not good unless you have a weak bladder,” joked Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who is actually furious that F1 did not act collectively to revert to the 2015 system after the farcical debut in Australia.
His ‘weak bladder’ comment is a reference to the lack of action caused by the rapidly-expiring 90 second countdowns, with drivers normally sitting in the pits rather than pushing to better their times and stay in the session.
At one point, Williams sent its cars onto the track in Bahrain simply to entertain the confused crowd rather than push for grid position.
“Williams were out and I’m not even sure they knew why — we certainly didn’t,” exclaimed Mercedes’ Toto Wolff. “It was terrible.”
The increasingly widespread feeling in the paddock is that the qualifying debacle has been pulled into the increasingly-poisonous political wrangling that many believe is now badly damaging F1.
Four teams vetoed the scrapping of the format after Australia, but Wolff said any dissidents should be “crucified” if a change is once again blocked before China.
The sport will meet to discuss qualifying on Sunday and “Whatever we decide, I am optimistic we will get unanimous agreement,” FIA president Jean Todt said in Bahrain.
But amid the current climate, no one is actually that confident.
“There is so much politics and bull—- in F1 that it is crazy sometimes,” said Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen. “People from the outside must look at us and think ‘What stupid people, what are they doing?'”
Bernie Ecclestone, for instance, has responded to the drivers’ collective call for a better sport by pointing the finger at GPDA president Alex Wurz, hinting it is a political move by the Austrian in cahoots with the teams.
“We are not political,” Vettel hit back, defending his fellow GPDA director.
“It (the letter) is signed by Alex and me and Jenson (Button) but is from all the drivers generally.”
The drivers’ main gripe is that the governance of the sport has gone off the rails, but FIA chief Todt suggested F1 is probably stuck with what it has got until 2020.
“If we could get all three sides to agree to change, we could change the governance tomorrow,” said the Frenchman.
“But I doubt we will ever get that so we are in this position until the current agreement runs out in 2020.”
One team boss told the Sunday Times newspaper: “It’s so frustrating. We have a president who is afraid to act and Bernie just shooting from the hip on everything and it’s just not working.”