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FIA agree changes to F1 qualifying

March 26, 2004 18:25 IST

Formula One's new qualifying format, slammed by broadcasters as boring and far too long, will be split into two separate Saturday sessions as of next week's Bahrain Grand Prix.

The International Automobile Federation (FIA) said in a statement on Wednesday that pre-qualifying would start at 1300 local time, an hour earlier than at present, with final qualifying for the grid starting at 1400.

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It said the changes had been decided by the FIA's World Motor Sport Council at a meeting in Paris.

No further details were given but television companies could now decide to broadcast only the second part of the session that dictates the starting grid while advertising breaks factored into the first part could be removed to speed up the proceedings.

The FIA said Saturday's two practice sessions would also each start an hour earlier than at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix and in Malaysia last weekend.

Formula One modified qualifying this season to one marathon session on Saturday afternoon after using two one-hour sessions on Friday and Saturday last year.

The new format was widely criticised as boring by broadcasters after the Australian Grand Prix, with drivers saying there was no incentive to push hard in the first part and the whole qualifying lasting longer than the race itself.


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