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Qualifying format set to change

ESPN Staff
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The changes are aimed at stopping drivers opting out of late qualifying runs to preserve tyres © Getty Images

The qualifying format for the 2014 season is set to be tweaked in order to make the final session more exciting for spectators.

Among the F1 Strategy Group's discussions during the second Bahrain test was the concern that too many drivers were electing to sit out of Q3 in a bid to save tyres for the race. The revisions ensure drivers will now start the race on the tyre used to set their fastest time in Q2, not Q3, meaning they are free to compete for pole in the final session without fear of compromising race strategy. For those in the top-ten shootout there will also be an extra set of tyres allocated for Q3 only.

The opening session is set to be reduced from 20 to 18 minutes, while Q3 is expanding to 12 minutes to ensure all teams can compete at least two runs. Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali believes the changes will have the desired impact.

"I believe that considering the situation this year, which should be at the beginning more conservative, there should not be a problem of not having enough tyres for the race to be used," Domenicali said. "At the end of the day I think it is good for the qualifying format. "The other thing that is different and that could have an effect on the race is using the tyres to set your fastest Q2 time. It means if you have a car at the beginning which is much quicker than another, you can choose a harder tyre to start the race and have an advantage. But that is part of the game and we will see how the situation develops."

The proposals still need to ratified by the FIA World Motor Sport Council before the opening weekend in Melbourne, though that will be little more than a formality as the proposals have the support of FIA president Jean Todt.

Todt recently told Autosport: "It's constructive to have a little review of qualifying. Some people say, 'no we cannot go out in Q3 because we don't have enough tyres. We are not talking about getting involved in a revolution. By doing a little refinement, a little finetuning, we can get at something [better]."

During their discussions, the group also voted down proposals to expand the double points format to the final three races, and also rejected revisions to engine homologation issues.

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