FIRST POLE OF THE SEASON: Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix as F1's new qualifying format proved to be anti-climactic. Image: AP / Rob Griffith
Melbourne - Leading figures in Formula 1 are calling on the sport to scrap the new 'musical chairs' qualifying format after the woeful spectacle of Melbourne.
The eleventh-hour format tweak was controversial from the start, but few experts or pundits imagined the calamity of late Saturday afternoon in Albert Park.
1996 world champion Damon Hill on Sky television, referring to pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton said: "The crescendo was the guy getting out of the car. He could have waved his own chequered flag."
Hamilton on pole position, not happy with format
Even the pole sitter was not impressed with Saturday's spectacle.
Hamilton said: "We said from the beginning that it wasn't the right thing to do."
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, third on the grid, agreed: "I don't see how anybody should be surprised. We told the FIA."
As it happened: 2016 Australian GP Qualifying
And it was Hamilton's boss, Mercedes chief Toto Wolff, who was at the front of the queue among the team bosses who called for the format to be scrapped immediately.
Wolff said: "I'm the first to say we shouldn't be speaking bad on the TV about these things but I think the new qualifying format is pretty rubbish. We need to come back and look at it again."
Red Bull's Christian Horner agreed: "We should apologise to the fans here. We have to hold our hands up and admit we got it absolutely wrong.
The format change was triggered by Bernie Ecclestone, who initially pushed to reverse the grids. F1 legend Niki Lauda further explained on Saturday that F1 race director Charlie Whiting devised the compromise solution.
Lauda, also the Mercedes team chairman, said: "It was obvious that when we took that decision, nobody thought of all the details. We should change it quickly, have a quick discussion and change it for Bahrain."
An immediate change for Bahrain would require a rare unanimous vote by the team principals, but Horner thinks that should not be a problem.
Horner said: "I'm sure Bernie didn't like it either. I'd be amazed if everybody didn't agree. Let's sort it out for Bahrain."
Starting grid for Sunday's Australian Grand Prix:
Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes)
Nico Rosberg (GER/Mercedes)
Sebastian Vettel (GER/Ferrari)
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN/Ferrari)
Max Verstappen (NED/Toro Rosso-Ferrari)
Felipe Massa (BRA/Williams-Mercedes)
Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP/Toro Rosso-Ferrari)
Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Red Bull-TAG Heuer)
Sergio Perez (MEX/Force India-Mercedes)
Nico Hulkenberg (GER/Force India-Mercedes)
Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Williams-Mercedes)
Fernando Alonso (ESP/McLaren-Honda)
Jenson Button (GBR/McLaren-Honda)
Jolyon Palmer (GBR/Renault)
Kevin Magnussen (DEN/Renault)
Marcus Ericsson (SWE/Sauber-Ferrari)
Felipe Nasr (BRA/Sauber-Ferrari)
Daniil Kvyat (RUS/Red Bull-TAG Heuer)
Romain Grosjean (FRA/Haas)
Esteban Gutierrez (MEX/Haas)
Pascal Wehrlein (GER/Manor-Mercedes)
Rio Haryanto (INA/Manor-Mercedes)