As we saw in Japan, just six of the ten drivers who qualified in Q3 actually set lap times, with one of them – Kobayashi – doing an outlap (and thus being entitled to start seventh instead of tenth). Pirelli, it seems, are not too happy about this:
They have suggested introducing qualifying tyres (which would do away with the start-on-the-tyres-you-qualified-on rule), but FOTA has rejected it. And I agree that Pirelli’s complaints about this are very valid. A solution needs to be found. The way I see it, the FIA have three options (I’ve arranged them in the order that I think will be most to least popular):
1) Make more sets of tyres available for qualifying. We already know that Pirelli want to adjust the tyre allocations and supply more options; if the teams had four sets of options and had to return one after qualifying, teams would actually be willing to run in Q3.
2) Force the top ten drivers to start on the tyres they set their best time on – whenever they set it. Under the current rules, the board is cleared at the end of each qualifying period, so if a driver does not run in Q3, he can freely choose whichever tyres he started on.
3) Automatic grid penalty for not qualifying. If four drivers do not run in Q3, then the drivers who qualified from 11th to 15th automatically get moved up the grid. If drivers are unwilling to run in Q3, then their top-ten grid spots should be given to drivers who would be willing to set a lap time.