By Andrew Benson
World champion Lewis Hamilton says planned changes to qualifying for this season will not have much effect.
A new elimination-based system will be introduced as long as the teams do not find any major problems when they study it in the next days.
But Hamilton said: “I don’t really feel like it is going to change much. I hope it’s a surprise for us all and I hope it does.”
Williams driver Felipe Massa, however, said the plan could cause “chaos”.
The idea is to retain the current system of three parts of qualifying, but eliminate one driver at a time through each of the sessions. This would result in a 90-second shoot-out for pole position between two drivers.
“I don’t know if it I like it or not,” the Brazilian said. “I need to have a little bit of time to sit down and understand the rules, understand the change.
“The only thing I understand is that they want to create some chaos around, and this will happen for sure.
“Cars that should maybe qualify more in the front have problems and they need to start in the back. So this is something that can be interesting for you [the media], but if it’s better or not, I don’t know yet.”
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo agreed with Hamilton. He said: “Without looking into ‘how’s that going to work or what if it rains?’, the ins and outs, it seems fine. I don’t know how much it’s going to change.
“It might put a little bit more pressure on us to execute the lap early in the session because after five minutes or something they’re going to start ticking them off.”
Concern about rule changes
F1’s governing body the FIA has also agreed the fundamentals of changes to make the cars faster and more dramatic-looking in 2017.
These will result in wider cars, with wider bodywork and wider tyres – and more downforce created from the underfloor.
The teams had been trying to lower the weight of the cars, to help with the plan to make them faster, but they have ended up being 20kg heavier than now. Hamilton described this as “ridiculous”.
The Mercedes driver added: “Over the last few days, I’m driving these tyres and thinking: ‘Why is it so difficult and what are the physical challenges for Pirelli and why is the car sliding in the way it does?’
“And I just realised that when I got into F1 the car was 605kg or 610kg and now it’s 100kg heavier.
“That makes a big, big difference. They don’t have to change the regulations much to make it go faster, just make the cars lighter. They are just super heavy.”
Hamilton did not comment directly on the specific design changes planned, but said: “I don’t agree with the changes that are made and have been made for many years, so you just live with it.”
He also said he felt the drivers should be consulted more on rule changes than they are.
“Some of the drivers who have been driving for 10 or 15 years – we’ve been through all the changes and we know which ones worked and which didn’t,” Hamilton said. “So I would say it’s a bad thing.”