Drivers Exercise Caution Regarding Mid-Season Qualifying Tweak

Two top Formula 1 drivers aren’t too sure how keen they are on the latest mid-season rule changes in 2023.

Fernando Alonso says he isn’t sure if Pirelli’s fundamentally different tyre construction introduced at Silverstone contributed to Aston Martin’s more difficult weekend.

“Obviously it is still one factor that we still need to analyse a little bit more in detail in the next few races,” he said in Hungary. “I’m not a fan of changing the rules in the middle of a championship.”

Yet another mid-season change, to be trialled this weekend at the Hungaroring, is a tweak to the qualifying format – with drivers having to use hard tyres in Q1, mediums in Q3 and soft tyres in Q3.

“I don’t think it will change too much,” said Alonso. “It’s the same for everybody.”

He even supports the fact that the tweaked format means each driver is allocated only 11 sets of tyres for the weekend rather than 13.

“So there is a reason behind that so we should support it and at least try,” said F1’s oldest driver.

But as a fundamental principle, he admits that mid-season changes are not ideal.

“You change the balls in the middle of the tennis tournament and it’s what happens when we change tyres here – we change the rules in the middle of a Formula 1 world championship,” said Alonso.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc says he’s in the dark about how the qualifying format tweaks will impact performance.

“I really have no idea,” he smiled.

“I think it’s going to be a tough weekend as we now have three practice sessions to work out a lot of different options with the new format in mind,” Leclerc added.

“New opportunities may appear, but there is also a high probability of making a mistake that will ruin the weekend. But that’s part of the game.

“However, I do not think that the risk of error should become part of our sport. I believe that the strongest should win,” he added.

However, he said it’s “nice” that drivers will now have more freedom about which tyres in their allocations to use across all other sessions.

“It will be interesting to see what the teams do because I expect to see quite different choices,” said Leclerc.