September 24, 2021

F1’s latest reverse-grid race plan ‘not something we should even come close to’ | 2021 Italian Grand Prix

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Formula 1 is considering a change to its sprint qualifying format for next season which could see standalone, reverse-grid races being held on Saturdays.

But the idea is not universally popular. Fernando Alonso said it would not be fair and Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff remains strongly opposed to the concept.

F1’s motorsport director Ross Brawn explained the latest reverse-grid scheme arose following discussions with drivers after the first sprint qualifying race at the British Grand Prix.

“We had a session with the drivers after Silverstone and I must say they were very positive,” said Brawn. “But it’s true some of them felt there should be more reward for the sprint and there should be more jeopardy in the sprint.

“I think if we’re doing that then maybe a standalone event is a consideration. So I think qualifying on a Friday, race on Sunday, and a standalone event with some decent reward, but maybe a little bit of jeopardy in the grid in how you start it.”

Brawn acknowledged concerns that using a reverse-grid format could be seen as a gimmick.

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“We’ve always got to be conscious, we don’t want gimmicks,” he said. “We don’t want an artificial [event]. We don’t want to cannibalise, we don’t want to affect the integrity. So it’s a difficult balance but there’s definitely potential there.”

Reverse grid races don’t belong in F1, says Wolff

However he said a standalone sprint race would have to award more points than the three on offer in the current sprint qualifying format. “I think it would have to. For the drivers to fight hard I think you have to have some decent reward.

“What you want is some battle between the guys who are at the front of the grid. If you move the guys at the front of the grid back a bit, they’re fighting each other. But we’re not talking about a raffle or a random order.”

Previous attempts by F1 to introduce a reverse grid race format were thwarted by opposition from some teams. Wolff has been one of the most trenchant critics of the plan.

“I remain in the same position,” he said. “It’s diluting the DNA of the sport of a meritocracy.

“I think sprint races is worth the try, I’m not sure we will keep them. But the reverse grid can be done in junior formulas where you want to see the overtaking abilities of drivers and it’s not something we should even come close to in Formula 1.”

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