Lotus driver Jarno Trulli says the Turkish Grand Prix marked what he believes is "the end of qualifying" in Formula 1.
The degradation of Pirelli's soft tires meant several drivers decided to do just one run in qualifying in Turkey, with Ferrari's Felipe Massa even deciding to not go for a second run despite failing to set a time in his first one. Several other drivers decided to compromise their qualifying position in order to have a new set of tires for the race.
Trulli believes the evidence from Turkey suggests qualifying has changed completely. The Italian, writing in his column for the Repubblica newspaper, also reckons the 2011 rules have had mixed effects, with the races being more spectacular but also more confusing.
"Like everything in life, the 2011 changes in F1 have some pros and cons," Trulli wrote. "The pros are more exciting and spectacular races, which the public seem to like; the cons are grands prix that are a bit less comprehensible and, since Istanbul, what I call 'the end of qualifying.'
"For the first time this year, we've seen that once Q3 is reached, instead of trying to snatch pole position off the others like they always do, drivers and teams preferred to make their calculations and just be content.
"The truth is that strategy this year has a more decisive role than usual. Here at Istanbul, for example, the race started before the race itself by saving tires. As I've always said, everyone's mission at this time is to learn the Pirellis. Well, after three races we finally have an initial and reliable measure of the level of tire degradation.
"So, whoever had the capability and the strength to save a set of tires on Saturday did just that. This thing obviously involved the drivers who made the top 10. As soon as they made the Q2 cut, they started to make their calculations. For many the problem was whether to utilize or not the remaining set of tires. The ones who got into Q3 by a whisker, the outsiders, didn't even try.
"The top guys set the lap time, then stopped. The others, the ones who usually animate the fight, did one try and quit at the first mistake. Some feel a formula that worked has been ruined. I don't want to say that. I simply observe that these are the rules and the drivers have adapted to them.
"There are pros and cons, I repeat: the pros are better races decided in the last 10-15 laps depending on the strategies and the tires, while the cons are that qualifying is less spectacular and more tactical."