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Sunday qualifying to be axed

May 20, 2005 18:51 IST

Formula One's controversial Sunday qualifying is likely to be axed after this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix in favour of a single Saturday session.

The International Automobile Federation (FIA) said on Friday that the 10 teams had already "agreed unanimously to a proposal to change the qualifying procedure for Formula One with immediate effect".

Fax vote forms for final approval were being sent out to the teams on Friday with a deadline of next Wednesday.

An FIA spokesman said the new format could then be in place in time for the European Grand Prix at the Nuerburgring in Germany on May 29.

The proposal was for a single qualifying session from 1300 to 1400 on Saturday with drivers each having a single timed lap to decide the starting grid.

Teams would be unable to refuel the cars or modify them between qualifying and the race. The running order would be the same as it is at the moment on Saturday, with the winner of the previous race having the advantage of going out last.

The first six races of this season, Monaco included, have adopted an aggregate format with the grid decided by the times from Saturday and Sunday.

The Sunday session has found little favour with broadcasters, some of whom have declined to show it live, while other influential figures have been scathing.

FIAT and Ferrari head Luca di Montezemolo, speaking at the San Marino Grand Prix last month, derided a system that left fans in the dark about who was on pole position when they picked up their Sunday morning newspapers.

Qualifying has been a constant sore for Formula One organisers in recent seasons with numerous attempts to find a solution.

Since the old free-for-all Saturday session was abolished at the end of 2002 for a single lap format, there have been experiments with qualifying on Friday and Saturday as well as running two sessions together on Saturday.

Many still hanker after the old days, before varying fuel levels made qualifying a strategic mystery, when fans could be sure that the fastest driver was on pole.

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