New Racing Year – New Format

  • Feb 18, 2016 9:53am GMT

There are changes this year to the Red Bull Air Race format designed to make the World Championship more competitive and the results even more unpredictable.

As compared to 2015, the new format focuses more on time. The overall Race Day structure remains the same: With a starting order based on Qualifying, the entire lineup of 14 pilots competes in head-to-head elimination heats in the Round of 14. The winner of each heat advances, plus the round’s fastest loser.

Next more elimination pairings in the Round of 8, and that’s where the key change comes in. Beginning in 2016, the eight pilots will be reseeded based on their Round of 14 timings. The fastest pilot from the Round of 14 will race against the eighth-fastest, the second-fastest will face the seventh-fastest, and so on. The winner of each heat advances to the Final 4.

Another change is that in those head-to-head pairings, in the rare instance when both pilots fail to score a valid time, neither pilot will move on to the subsequent round. Advancing instead will be a second “fastest loser”: the next pilot in line based on the times recorded among all those who lost their heats.

“We continually review our operations and format and strive to improve competitiveness and fairness. We had two scenarios in 2015 where we had the same pairing in the Round of 14 and Round of 8. So, we changed the order of the Round of 8 to be directly related to the time that each pilot posted in his Round of 14,” said Race Director Jim DiMatteo. “We all feel this order is more fair to the pilots and improves the competition for any given location, ultimately resulting in an even more exciting race.”

“I think the new race format is much more fair, because it supports those putting effort in all rounds before the final,” says Hannes Arch of Austria. Arch and the rest of the pilots will race in the new format at the season opener in Abu Dhabi on 11-12 March 2016.

Video: Red Bull Air Races an explanation of the new race format and how it will work.