A new qualifying format has been introduced this season, so it is about time to make a first assessment. One thing is certain, the new format is less chaotic and Robin Frijns took full advantage of it, until now: “I have always managed to get into the duel phase, and I hope it will be the same here in Monaco. With this new format, if you have a good car and you feel good in it, you always have a chance of finishing in the Top 8 in qualifying”, insists the Dutch Envision Team driver, who started this season well and often climbed on on the podium, even if victory still eludes him.
Until last year, with the different groups that followed one another on the track, “it was rather unsporty, it was a bit like gambling. If you were in Group 1, you were cleaning the track for the others. I am happy again to come to the races because I feel that if I make a good job, I will have a good result, it rewards the best team doing the best job, there is no excuse if you are not in the Top 4. You just need to work harder. It should be the case in any sport, without giving the pole position to a driver because he is far away in the championship and lucky to be at the right place at the right moment”.
As everything is relative, the opinion of Seb Buemi, a double winner in Monaco in FE (2015, 2017), is interesting: “The new qualifying format, when you are competitive, it’s good, because you really have an opportunity to go to the top eight. But when you’re a little on the inside, like us, it’s worse, because you can’t create a gap by being in the fastest group, because the track has improved”.
The new qualifying format, which is fairer on the whole, is therefore a guarantee that the best will be at the top of the starting grid more often, and that they will have less need to engage in extraordinary comebacks with the risk of causing collisions, accidents. But as JEV also points out this year, “the level of competition is extremely high, and the gaps are very small, because we are in the fourth year of Gen2 and each driver, each team, understands his car very well. He So you have to look for the small detail that can make a difference, the little thing that could have been done better in the previous race”.
This makes the FE all the more interesting, Stoffel Vandoorne (Mercedes) adds, as the field is exclusively made up of “drivers who mostly have a big track record, a lot of experience in different categories, and are all supported by big manufacturers”. So the Belgian driver does not want to look elsewhere, even if Mercedes will stop its official commitment, with a full works team, at the end of this season. In the meantime, for this last outing of Mercedes EQS in Monaco, Vandoorne hopes to do better than last year, when precisely the qualifying format penalized the Mercedes drivers. To be continued, on Saturday.