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July 31, 2009

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F1 teams look at qualifying changes

FORMULA One teams are exploring whether they should race three cars from next season and can change qualifying to make it more challenging.

While the Formula One Teams Association scrapped plans to form a rival series as part of a peace pact with the governing body, the leading outfits want to be at the forefront of revitalizing motor racing's premier competition.

FOTA is exploring changes that it hopes will make the series more exciting for fans and shift attention back to on-track duels rather than the battles with the FIA which have blighted this season.

FOTA is believed to be preparing to recommend an overhaul of qualifying to the FIA. Currently five cars are excluded after each of the first two parts of qualifying, leaving 10 cars to compete for pole in the final 10-minute session.

But a plan being explored to make the starting lineup more unpredictable is to have five cars challenge in the preliminary session, with the two fastest progressing to challenge the next group of five until the grid is determined.

The proposals are yet to be announced by FOTA, but the group confirmed on Wednesday that it will discuss with the FIA a possible expansion of the grid to 36 cars.

"Professional work has already begun within FOTA aimed at increasing the involvement of fans and at improving the F1 show," secretary general Simone Perillo said. "Among those initiatives, one that could be interesting, is the introduction of a third car on the grid.

"FOTA will seek the opinions of all the most relevant stakeholders in order to exchange ideas and define proposals for the future of Formula One. FOTA teams now wish to have the necessary certainty and stability within Formula One in order to focus on those fundamental priorities for the future."

But FOTA announced the plans hours after one of its eight members, BMW Sauber, announced it was pulling out of the series due to its lack of success and to focus its resources on the rest of its motor business.

FOTA, which also includes Ferrari and McLaren, has pledged to help the team continue with new a owner, just as Brawn emerged from the ashes of Honda after the Japanese automaker withdrew ahead of the new season. "FOTA teams have immediately consulted each other and are ready to assure all the necessary support to the Swiss-based team, whose membership in the association is confirmed, to continue its involvement in F1," Perillo said.


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