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‘Musical chairs’ stays in place for Bahrain

The controversial and unpopular ‘musical chairs’ qualifying format will decide the grid for next weekend’s Bahrain grand prix.

That is despite the fact the new concept, featuring 90-second countdown eliminations, was widely declared an unmitigated failure on debut in Melbourne.

Team bosses voted before the race on Sunday to revert to the popular 2015 format, but the change also needed to progress through the F1 Commission.

“The teams are discussing it but to go back there is no unanimity,” F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, apparently referring to his and FIA president Jean Todt’s vote in the F1 Commission, told Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The F1 Commission, also featuring race promoters and sponsors, was asked to vote on the matter via fax by Thursday, and the result is that the existing rules are staying in force for now.

“We have not acted rashly so the format remains unchanged, at least for the next race in Bahrain,” Ecclestone is quoted by Germany’s Auto Bild Motorsport.

“After that we can look again at what makes sense.”

Many fans, however, are outraged that their wishes and those of the team bosses have been overruled.  1992 world champion Nigel Mansell declared on Twitter: “I wonder why the rule makers of any sport don’t consult the fans for their suggestions.”

An unnamed team boss went further, predicting a repeat of the Melbourne backlash.

“Now we will still be screaming bloody murder in Bahrain,” he was quoted by Auto Bild.

The press is also unimpressed, with the Times’ Kevin Eason surmising: “As U-turns go, this was in the brake-screeching and stomach-churning category.”

Bild newspaper added: “Regarding this decision, one can only shake your head.”