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10 Things About Indy 500 Qualifying Format

The qualifying format is relatively more difficult than Formula 1 and is held over two days-the Saturday and Sunday on the weekend before the race; McLaren powered quick guide explains more.
Ahead of McLaren’s very own ‘Race Of Two Worlds’, the Woking based squad bring you all you need to know about the qualifying formats of Indy 500.

IndyCar qualifying

1. Indy 500 qualifying used to be spread over two weekends and four days, but now it is concentrated on the weekend immediately prior to the race, which this year means May 20th to 21st. The qualifying order is determined by lots drawn in a procedure that starts at 6.15pm on Friday May 19th.

2. Each car has to go through a technical inspection process and receive a sticker which allows it to participate. All cars have to be in line 30 minutes before the session starts. Each car is given one Guaranteed Attempt on Saturday, with a qualifying run comprised of four timed laps. The resulting order determines which of two groups the cars are put in for the second round of qualifying on Sunday.

3. Once the cars are in line, teams can only adjust front and rear wing angles, and tyre pressures. The same rear wing mainplane has to be kept on the car for the remainder of the event once a car has qualified.

4. The entrant signals the official start of a qualification attempt by displaying a green flag as the car completes its final warm-up lap. The entrant can also use a yellow flag to wave off or abort a run before the four laps are completed. When the qualifying session officially ends a car that has been signalled by officials to leave the pits, and which is already moving with its engine running, can carry on and complete a qualification attempt.

5. Once every car has made its Guaranteed Attempt, a ‘break’ in the line occurs. Subsequently cars can make multiple further attempts, with or without withdrawing their earlier times. However, those who decide to withdraw their times get priority, and join the queue in Line 1. Those who don’t withdraw their times go to Line 2, and can only run when Line 1 is empty.

6. The top nine cars on Saturday are put in the Fast 9 group for Sunday. They are now guaranteed to start in the first three rows. The remaining cars go into Group 1. All existing qualifying times are now voided.

7. A Last Chance Qualifying session may be held on Sunday for cars that were unable to complete their Guaranteed Attempt on Saturday because of a mechanical condition or on-track incident, and were prevented from making a second attempt.

8. These cars will run in a randomly drawn order and can ‘bump’ the slowest qualified cars out of the race. Regardless of speed, they will start at the back, behind all cars qualified on Saturday. Bumped cars are allowed to run again and attempt to get back into the race.

9. The Group 1 cars run in reverse order of the positions achieved on Saturday, with the 33rd placed car running first, and the 10th placed car running last. The cars have to be in line 30 minutes before the session starts. The resulting order determined positions 10th to 33rd on the grid.

10. The Fast 9 cars then run to determine the first nine places on the grid, with the ninth fastest from Saturday running first. The cars have to be in line 45 minutes before the session. Any car which does not complete a full four-lap qualifying run drops to the bottom of the final order, and in this case its Saturday times are used as its official qualifying result.

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