Around and about, December 1988
Prequalifying for 1989 Grands Prix
With a handful of extra teams hoping to compete in Grand Prix racing next year, and regulations enforcing all entrants to run two cars and limiting qualifying sessions to only thirty, FISA has been forced to address the need for a new pre-qualifying procedure.
October’s General Assembly in Paris issued a communique which confirmed that “Pre-qualifying sessions for those teams required to pre-qualify by the Formula One Sporting Regulations shall be organised one or more weeks prior to each event and on a different circuit”.
One proposal being considered is that these sessions should take place at World SportsPrototype Championship rounds, and that the results will be good for the following three Grands Prix. But whatever system is adopted, expenses are certain to be increased for those teams which pre-qualify successfully, and the task of landing a sponsor (without the lure of television coverage) made that much more difficult for those who fail.
Thirteen teams have already been exempted from the need to pre-qualify for the first eight races of 1989, these being this year’s championship points-scorers McLaren, Ferrari, Benetton, Arrows, March, Lotus, Williams, Tyrrell, Rial and Minardi, plus those with the highest finishes outside the top six, Larrousse-Calmels, AGS and BMS Dallara.
The remaining aspirants, expected to include Ligier, Coloni, EuroBrun, Osella and Zakspeed as well as Formula 3000 graduates First and Onyx and returnee Brabham, will have to fight it out for the four remaining places in qualifying itself; the teams which set the two fastest times in pre-qualifying will each be permitted to enter two cars.
Halfway through the season, the list of exemptions will be reviewed on the basis of race results.