The Q4 idea that would ‘add jeopardy’ and ‘harsher punishments’ to F1 qualifying

Oliver Harden
Max Verstappen leads the field at the start of the F1 2023 Monaco Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen leads the field at the start of the 2023 Monaco Grand Prix.

Former technical director Gary Anderson has called for F1 to introduce a new Q4 segment to the qualifying format to add more “jeopardy” to the shootout for pole position.

F1’s existing three-stage qualifying format has remained largely unchanged since it was first introduced in 2006, with the hour-long session session split into three parts.

The sport’s determination to make the sprint format more appealing saw selected events stage a so-called sprint shootout in 2023, reducing the time of the Q1, Q2 and Q3 sessions and featuring stricter tyre rules.

F1 urged to introduce new Q4 segment to spice up qualifying

Anderson, the former Jordan designer, has called for F1 to go even further and add a fourth qualifying segment featuring only the five fastest drivers of Q3.

Under Anderson’s system, the fast five would have just five minutes – enough time to post only a single flying lap – to battle it out for pole position.

Writing in his column for the Telegraph, he said: “The ‘sprint shootout’ qualifying is poorly named because it is anything but a shootout.

“F1 should look to that title for inspiration on how to improve the main qualifying sessions. The current format for the main race works pretty well but there is room to improve the show.

“I would do this by adding a fourth mini-session so that we have a Q4 that follows on from Q3. Q1 and Q2 would be kept the same with five cars eliminated each time.

“However Q3 – instead of setting the final grid for the grand prix – would become another elimination session where the fastest five drivers progress to Q4 and compete for pole.

“Q4 would then be a one-run shootout with a new set of soft tyres with a time limit of around five minutes – only enough to do one flying lap.

“In Q3, the drivers currently have two shots at pole position, meaning mistakes are not punished as harshly and there is less jeopardy.”

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Anderson’s idea comes amid a series of rule change suggestions from the 73-year-old, who has not worked for an F1 team since leaving Jordan in 2003.

Earlier this month, Anderson called for the sprint format to offer “something significantly different” to the main race and urged F1’s authorities to consider introducing reverse grids, based on the results of Q1 in grand prix qualifying.

Anderson also revealed his desire to see F1’s penalty system revolutionised with a solution similar to the way yellow cards are used in professional football.

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