Friday, May 21, 2010

Too Hard?

Oh, one more from Monaco. I did find the pre-race discussion about splitting Q1 into "fast" and "slow" groups a bit refreshing in that the tone of the discussion was "it's too hard! wah! wah!" instead of "it's too easy! wah! wah!"

Being an old fart, I remember back when not only did Qualifying actually mean something (as in, you could fail to qualify, ending your weekend) but the large entry list meant that they had to perform Pre-Qualifying.

Wikipedia has this to say on the subject of Pre-Qualifying:
In the late 1980s and early 1990s the number of cars attempting to enter each race was as high as 39 for some races. Because of the dangers of having so many cars on the track at the same time, a pre-qualifying session was introduced for the teams with the worst record over the previous 6 months, including all new teams. Only the four fastest cars from this session were then allowed into the qualifying session proper, where 30 cars competed for 26 places on the starting grid for the race. The slowest cars from the pre-qualifying session were listed in race results as 'Did Not Pre-Qualify' (DNPQ). Pre-qualifying was discontinued after 1992 when many small teams withdrew from the sport.
In a way this scheme was amazing, as it meant that for some teams (up to nine cars) they had to run on the track for an hour at 8AM, after which the fastest four cars would be permitted to participate in the rest of the weekend through Qualifying. The rest of them? Pack up, your weekend is done Friday at 9AM.

But more relevantly -- can you imagine? 30 cars on the Monaco circuit all at the same time, and for more sessions, too, since exclusions happened only after Pre-Qualifying and Qualifying. So the Friday morning and afternoon sessions, as well as the Saturday morning session, all had as many as 30 cars running around at the same time. And Qualifying was a single session, which meant that the stakes were somewhat higher.

And these guys were worried aboug 24?...


Clearly Formula One drivers back then were True Gods Among Men for having been able to deal with such an impossibly dangerous situation.

Fortunately for us, Lotus decided that some kind of split session wasn't to their advantage so they didn't go along. And incredibly, these modern drivers somehow managed to not run into each other.