F1 defers decision on new qualifying system

SAKHIR, Bahrain (AP) Formula One organizers and teams will vote on an all-new qualifying format on Thursday after a meeting Sunday in which the sport's governing body, the FIA, and commercial chief Bernie Ecclestone ruled out teams' request to immediately return to the old system.

The FIA put forward a new format and while participants in the meeting wouldn't publicly confirm what it was, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said one option was for ''an aggregate time of two laps rather than a single lap but it needs to be properly thought out.''

The current rolling-elimination format - in which the slowest driver is eliminated every 90 seconds - was used in Australia and Bahrain but was heavily criticized due to fan confusion and lack of on-track action.

Teams had resolved after the Australian Grand Prix to return to the 2015 format but when it went to the F1 Commission, they couldn't reach the requisite unanimous agreement to change rules midseason.

The teams lobbied again in Sunday's meeting ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix for a return to the old qualifying format of recent years but the FIA and Ecclestone wouldn't agree, saying race promoters were demanding a more compelling format to draw in fans.

Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene said the confidential new format had merit.

''It was accepted by all that the current format doesn't work so it was formulated a new proposal that I believe is very interesting,'' Arrivabene said.

''There's work to be done on it and in the course of the coming week we should reach a conclusion.''

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