Time is running out for finalizing the rules for the 2021 Formula One season. However, at the moment many proposals are still in the testing phase and are far from being put into guidelines and regulations. And it’s not just about the new cars, as even the optimal format continues to be discussed.
One thing is for sure: the teams have unanimously informed FIA Chief Technology Officer Nikolas Tombazis not to bring back in-race refueling as part of rule changes from 2021, arguably because such pit-stops dictate the tactics and thus make the races more predictable. Jean Todt, the president of the governing FIA, said several time that he would be in favor of reintroduce refueling, which was banned from F1 starting with the 2009 season.
However, another proposal is seriously considered: Formula 1 is evaluating four qualification races on Saturdays for 2021. Starting grid would be the reversed championship standings and the result of quali race would define starting grid for the race.
Which means that from the 2021 season, a mini-Grand Prix could replace the qualification. On tracks where statistics have shown a rather boring race given the few overtakes during the past ten years, a new element should provide more action. If the proposal is approved, a race over 100 kilometers would take the place instead of the current qualification format, which will determine the starting grid in three knockout rounds.
Intended are racetracks where overtaking is not impossible but difficult. Shanghai, Barcelona and Paul Ricard are on the list. Maybe also Zandvoort. In contrast, in Monte Carlo or Singapore, as with most other circuits, the fastest lap in a qualifying session format would continue to be used given the fact that a qualifying race would be unfair to the well-placed drivers in the championship and most likely they would never make it to the front on tracks such as Monte Carlo.