The team chiefs got together before the Bahrain grand prix with Bernie Ecclestone and Jean Todt to discuss the future of the 'musical chairs' format, amid widespread hopes it will be scrapped.
But although the meeting took 90 minutes, Mercedes' Toto Wolff told reporters as he exited that "No decision has been made" except that returning to the popular 2015 format is "not on the table".
A new meeting has been scheduled for next Thursday, amid speculation bosses have been told to discuss a newly-touted format for setting the grid.
"Our main message," said Wolff, "is 'Please, no experiments'."
No further information is known, but the demeanor of the bosses was downbeat while the media reacted with dismay that the qualifying saga is still not resolved amid a deteriorating political climate.
"Formula one delivered proof of its impressive inability to act," wrote Auto Motor und Sport correspondent Tobias Gruner.