Trulli: The end of qualifying

Date published: May 11 2011

Jarno Turlli believes “qualifying is less spectacular and more tactical” these days as teams would rather save their tyres than go all out for pole…

Jarno Turlli believes “qualifying is less spectacular and more tactical” these days as teams would rather save their tyres than go all out for pole position.

With fresh tyres a premium for race day, several of the front-runners opted to do just one flying lap during qualifying in Turkey on Saturday. The move worked like a charm for Red Bull as both their drivers saved a set of soft tyres by doing only one run in Q3.

Lotus driver Trulli feels a trend has been set now and qualifying will no longer play such a significant role.

“Like everything in life, the 2011 changes in F1 have some pros and cons,” Trulli wrote in Italy’s Repubblica newspaper.

“The pros are more exciting and spectacular races, which the public seem to like; the cons are grands prix that are a bit less comprehensible and, since Istanbul, what I call ‘the end of qualifying.’

“For the first time this year we’ve seen that, once Q3 is reached, instead of trying to snatch pole position off the others like they always do, drivers and teams preferred to make their calculations and just be content.

“The truth is that strategy this year has a more decisive role than usual. Here at Istanbul, for example, the race started before the race itself by saving tyres. As I’ve always said, everyone’s mission at this time is to learn the Pirellis. Well, after three races we finally have an initial and reliable measure of the level of tyre degradation.

“So, whoever had the capability and the strength to save a set of tyres on Saturday did just that. This thing obviously involved the drivers that made the top ten. As soon as they made the Q2 cut, they started to make their calculations. For many the problem was whether to utilise or not the remaining set of tyres. The ones that got into Q3 by a whisker, the outsiders, didn’t even try.

“The top guys set the laptime then stopped. The others, the ones who usually animate the fight, did one try and quit at the first mistake. Some feel a formula that worked has been ruined. I don’t want to say that. I simply observe that these are the rules and the drivers have adapted to them.

“There are pros and cons, I repeat: the pros are better races decided in the last 10-15 laps depending on the strategies and the tyres, while the cons are that qualifying is less spectacular and more tactical.”