FIA to discuss qualifying changes
According to various media reports, the Formula One rules makers are about to make drastic changes to the qualifying rules for the 2014 season.
The FIA - motor racing's governing body - as well as the various team bosses and Bernie Ecclestone are expected to meet during the testing session in Bahrain on February 21 to discuss the format that will be used for qualifying in the upcoming season.
The Mirror reports that the current format used in qualifying will be changed to prevent drivers from opting out of taking part in the final Q3 segment in order to save their tyres for the race.
"Some believe a return to the free-for-all hour long sessions of the past is the answer because the current three-part formula has added nothing to the Saturday spectacle," said correspondent Byron Young.
The Telegraph's Daniel Johnson added that changes will be made "to try and maintain the spectacle, (the) strategy group has asked the teams and the FIA to come up with ways of forcing drivers to go for the best grid positions in Q3."
"Plans likely to be discussed are believed to include supplying drivers with an extra set of qualifying tyres, specifically for the final part of the session," Johnson added.
Under the current rules, the 10 drivers that take part in Q3 have to start the race with the same set of tyres that their best time during the session was set on.
In the past, it has happened that some drivers decided to opt out of the final session in order to have a free tyre choice for the race, which is ultimately a strategic benefit.
According to Autosport, the February 21 meeting will aim to come up with a consensus of rules tweaks designed to ensure that Q3 doesn't turn into a farce.
Autosport reports that some of the changes that are considered include forcing the 10 fastest qualifiers from Q2 to start the race with the tyres they used during the second session, meaning there is no incentive to opt out of Q3.
Another possibility is to hand all the drivers that takes part in Q3 an additional set of tyres to be used explicitly during that session - a suggestion which Pirelli has previously been in favour of.
If any changes are to be made to the qualifying rules, it would need to be agreed unanimously before they will be put forward to the FIA's World Motor Sport Council and the F1 Commission for ratification ahead of the season opener in Australia in five weeks' time.