Ross Brawn, Spa-Francorchamps, 2019

Qualifying races plan has “unanimous support” from teams – Brawn

2020 F1 season

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The controversial plan to hold ‘qualifying races’ at some rounds of the 2020 F1 season has the “unanimous support” of teams, according to the sport’s motorsport director Ross Brawn.

Drivers have criticised the plan, which would involve doing away with the qualifying session at some rounds and holding a short Saturday race to decide the grid for Sunday’s grand prix.

Changing the rules to incorporate ‘qualifying races’ next year will require backing from all of the teams. However Brawn told Channel 4 that despite drivers’ criticisms, their teams support the experiment.

“The FIA and ourselves, at the moment we’ve got unanimous team support,” said Brawn.

“The drivers have expressed their concerns and we’ve had our first discussion with them. They want to see the format fleshed out, which is fair, because we’ve got the concept, we’ve got to work out the detail.

“So I think when we do that then it’d be fair to discuss it with the drivers and what we’d say is ‘give it a chance’. Because it might not work, but otherwise how do we progress?

“Most sports these days are looking at how they progress. Maintaining the integrity of what we are – we don’t want to spoil that – but can we enhance it and add some extra interest?”

Brawn gave further detail on how the qualifying races could work: “The intention is to have two or three races where instead of qualifying we have a reverse-grid sprint race.

“We’re interested to know if the sprint race can complement the main race and how it would fit. So we want to see what the public response would be, we want to see if it’s got a place in grand prix racing or if it’s not.”

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The qualifying race would begin with the field organised in reverse order of the drivers’ points standings, with the championship leader in last position.

“Obviously it would be a race that’s come after the championship has established some order,” said Brawn. “You couldn’t have it too early in the season because it wouldn’t reflect.

“I think what we often see is drivers can show us who’s the fastest. What we want to see is who’s the best racer where they have to overtake to achieve their grid positions.”

The result of the qualifying race would set the starting order for the subsequent race and not award any championship points. However Brawn is open to the possibility of making the Saturday race a points-scoring event as well. “It may be in the future that would be something we can consider that a Saturday race has a reduced number of points and a Sunday race has full points.”

Brawn believes the introduction of the bonus point for fastest lap this year shows why F1 should consider making further changes to the race weekend format.

“Next year there’s no major regulation changes. And in Formula 1 we never get an opportunity to explore any different formats. So we felt that next year was a good time to try one or two different formats and see if it works. It won’t be a lot of races, two or three races. We want to see what the results will be.

“If you think about the point for a fastest lap, there was a lot of criticism when it was introduced. I don’t think anyone would criticise it now.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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60 comments on “Qualifying races plan has “unanimous support” from teams – Brawn”

  1. “So I think when we do that then it’d be fair to discuss it with the drivers and what we’d say is ‘give it a chance’.

    so to put it mildly.
    We listen to them but then we say: “give it a chance’.”.
    Why creating the illusion of “listening” if you still want to go on with your plans?

    1. Lost for words that this is coming from Brawn. He should know better. They just dont seem to stop coming up with all kinds of non core measures and stuff. What they should be focussing on is making the actual cars and racing more competitive. The format is just fine. Make sure the teams and cars are more level and allow close racing.

  2. Please, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
    Qualifiying is correct as it is now.

    Is best to center your efforts in the predictability of races and the breach between top F1 teams and teams in the F1.5.

    1. Amen, quali is one of the most interesting parts.

      Another series of DRS overtakes in a quali race, to end up with a perverted grid (nobody so far has managed to win from the back in a full length race, imagine a shorter one). Give this plan some room and they will start doing it full season..Imagine the randomness of Monaco..

  3. So, everyone agrees except:

    A) The guys that actually race
    B) The majority of the people that watch the race

    Glad they’re taking everyone into account!

    1. Where did you obtain the statistics regarding the “majority” of fans?

    2. Thomas S. Pedersen
      29th September 2019, 7:34

      I think this sounds like a great idea!
      Perhaps wouldn’t work on all tracks, but still. Seems fun. I for sure wouldn’t mind seeing this as a trial for just a few races next year.

    3. To respond as f1 manager: “give it a chance”. No, lets leave quali and remove friday practice.

  4. FTG. How is this cheat even in F1?

  5. Trying to catch casual viewers at the risk of losing long term viewers, what could go wrong?

    1. I guess they haven’t seen what happened to Nascar when they took the route of introducing gimmicks in an attempt to attract casual fans

    2. The casual viewers that have to pay to watch, how does that work..

  6. This reverse grid sprint cup backwards qualifying race system will be great in Monaco. Not.

    Maybe it could be fun on tracks that offer overtaking potential, but on street circuits, they need to try making the entire weekend into a time trial spectacular.

    Also kudos to Ross and Liberty for distracting fans with make-believe improvements. They can’t address the real problems without fear of either getting ferveto’d, replacing the tyre supplier or tracks.

    1. Pirelli make the tires to a spec that the customer requests. I don’t get why people don’t understand that.

      1. @Liam Mchugh Not sure why you assume that Pirelli are producing the best possible tyre to meet that request, given that nobody requested a tyre with an extremely narrow operating temp window.

        When Penske thought they were struggling with their chassis in CART in the late 90s and weren’t winning races, they assumed that the narrow operating window of their Goodyear tyres was just a feature of modern Indy cars and tyre tech. After Goodyear pulled out and they were forced to switch to Firestone, they were shocked to learn they had been competing the entire time at an insurmountable disadvantage—the Firestones had a much wider operating window and more gradual, consistent degradation.

        It’s possible that Pirelli are producing the best possible tyre for the requested specification. But without a comparison against another manufacturer, we’ll never know…

  7. “If you think about the point for a fastest lap, there was a lot of criticism when it was introduced. I don’t think anyone would criticise it now.”

    Um, really? Genuine question; has anyone on this site who didn’t support this idea initially changed their position after what they’ve seen so far?

    I would guess it’s more likely the opposite.

    1. That would be my guess too.

      I find it as relevant as that awful fan based driver of the day.

    2. Agree, honestly couldn’t tell you who’s been getting them. Now… if The championship was close that would be a different story.

    3. @aussierod RaceFans readers are a small subset of somewhat “hardcore” fans with long histories of watching the sport and fairly deep technical understanding. So statistically irrelevant.

  8. and im expected to pay over £30 per month to watch all of this experimentation?! We said we dont want it. F1 is not listening! If you push this through ill be phoning Sky to cancel after the season and ill just watch it when it hits the F1TV archive the year after. £20 per year is all id be prepared to pay for such a farce.

  9. This plan would fail miserably on tracks where overtaking is near impossible. At that, as we’ve seen, the front runners will end up back in their usual positions anyway and it does nothing but punish the driver in the lead of the championship. Unless the cars are made significantly more equal I can’t see how this would make any difference other than being an oddity and ‘fixing’ something that isn’t broken.

  10. Ross, what happened to you?
    You used to talk sense. Are you sure you’re not just a puppet for Liberty now?

    I can’t see how the teams are unanimous about this. They’re never unanimous about sensible things!

    Come on Ferrari, pull out that veto! Especially now you’re actually good at qualifying!

    1. @eurobrun This should be comment of the day. +1 from me

    2. @eurobrun I’ve been asking the same question for a while now and I’m pretty sure the answer is becoming self evident.

      It’s obvious that we “traditionalists” are going the way of the dinosaur as far as Liberty is concerned in favour of the new ADHD generation that can’t watch something for more than 5 minutes.

      Soon we’ll be hearing Ross expound the virtues of sprinklers at the track.

    3. @eurobrun all teams see potential to upset the order and more points. Pure self interest, they dont care about the show.

  11. They listen…and then do something completely different. Artificial and will create more secondary problems. Ruin the authenticity of saturday so that Sunday looks better

    1. Worst of all, like drs everyone will admit that it facilitates action and this will slowly replace real racing.

    2. Yep, they’re using T20 as a model saying the more people are interested in cricket after it was introduced.

      It ruined test cricket but nobody cares as long as there’s “entertainment”.

      It’ll get trialed, be declared a resounding success, and be implemented just like DRS.

  12. This might be the best chance to kill the sport for good, yet. And that includes all the Ecclestone years.

  13. The commentary on this topic, for me, carries an absurd amount of vitriol directed at an attempt to make an entertainment event more entertaining.

    I don’t know if it will work, but a lot has changed in the 35 years I’ve been watching and it’s still my favorite sport. I’m inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.

    1. Suffering Williams Fan
      28th September 2019, 22:32

      I’m inclined to agree. While I think the current qualifying format is the best format we’ve seen in F1 to date, it doesn’t immediately follow that it can’t be improved, and I have no objection to testing out new ideas; it’s certainly preferable to applying an untested idea to an entire season’s worth of events (one-shot qualifying anyone?). There already appears to be an appreciation that this needs some care in terms of the tracks you test this at, so I think it’s worth a look. If it fails, fine, end the experiment, but if it works, it could be a great addition to a race weekend.

  14. I am close to giving up – have all these experts totally lost the plot?
    Are they all being paid to destroy F1?

    Qualifying is the ONLY part of an F1 weekend that works every race weekend.
    I could easily pass on some of the rubbish tracks but Qually keeps me tuning in.
    It is the guaranteed bit of an F1 weekend to provide some interest and keep my interest.

    Look – if Liberty want to strip F1 and sell off the bits then please just do it and do it fast.

  15. What I dislike the most is how it affects the history of F1, statistics, etc. Qualifying is qualifying, it signals the fastest car over one lap and always has done regardless of the format, letting us compare records over the years. Reverse grids? I mean seriously, Ross you’re better than this gimmicky crap.

  16. The qualifying race would begin with the field organised in reverse order of the drivers’ points standings, with the championship leader in last position.
    Maybe I could imagine a qualifying race, but reverse grid is too much for me. I will never support it. Never ever. Besides, this kind of farcial qualifying race cannot ever happen at the first GP of the season, so why even start trying it?! I am so disappointed hearing this news.

  17. If you think about the point for a fastest lap, there was a lot of criticism when it was introduced. I don’t think anyone would criticise it now.”
    I supported the idea, because it was a part of F1 history in 1950s. Besides, it is not a big issue nowadays for the “haters” of it, because the winner gets 25 points and not 8 points as in 1950s.

  18. If they do this at 3-4 races next year then for me the 2020 season will be an 18-19 race season because i’m not watching any race weekend where they use this gimmicky format even if they do it on my favourite circuits. I just don’t like these gimmicky formats, Never have & never will (Hence why I stopped watching touring car racing).

    By scrapping qualifying & going with a qualifying race we will no longer get to see cars running on low fuel over a weekend because why would they need to do any low fuel running given how we won’t see any low fuel on the limit qualifying laps over the weekend.

    For me qualifying should be about ultimate pace, Drivers pushing the cars to the limit on low fuel building up to that final mega all out lap at the end. Fastest driver starts on pole & the slowest starts at the back.

    Look, I’ve actually little doubt that a reverse grid with the fast guys at the back would produce some excitement as they come through the field. We see this when it happens due to mistakes or penalties. But I still don’t like trying to artificially recreate that with reverse grids because I think it cheapens the sport & devalues the achievement of pole position to the point where I don’t think you can count pole position stats for qualifying races because a mid-field driver happening to end up starting on pole due to been further up the field thanks to a reverse grid simply will never be as big an achievement as some of the mega pole position qualifying laps we have seen until now.

    It’s shifting the balance to show above sport & if that’s the direction Liberty want to take F1 then i’m not sure I want to stick around because for me F1 should be a sport before it’s a show.

    1. @stefmeister: CoTD! Agree. I’ll be a no-show if Liberty wants F1 to be all show

      1. I’ll be a no-show if Liberty wants F1 to be all show

        @jimmi-cynic – under Liberty’s Uno reverse card rule, your no-show counts as showing up, so their viewer numbers won’t drop ;)

    2. I do not want to be too negative, and hopeful that an experiment will show up the problems, which is better than just introducing it for the full season.

      But as I was reading your comment, I realized that for the slowest cars, it certainly won’t be a test in overtaking prowess. Instead, I could see HAAS (well, they might be better next year, but why even try too hard for these Saturdays!) but Grosjean ahead go after Williams, and let Perez and Magnussen behind figure out who’s the biggest badass at blocking off the overtakes. Pole, top four guaranteed! Too pessimistic? Yep, I hope so.

  19. “If you think about the point for a fastest lap, there was a lot of criticism when it was introduced. I don’t think anyone would criticise it now.”

    Because it’s an irrelevant piece of.gimmick not even the telly cares about it anymore? They used to show the guy going for it in the end, now not even that. They don’t even show it after the race, like they show the little panel with the winner’s name.

    It’s so irrelevant and pointless that the guys implementing it don’t even bother. No one cares about that point. It made no difference whatsoever to the racing or the spectacle. Of course no one is complaining. I’m 100% sure the casual viewer doesn’t know about the bonus point, and even hardcore fans forget about it.

    1. I supported the idea, because it was a part of F1 history in 1950s. Besides, it is not a big issue nowadays for the “haters” of it, because the winner gets 25 points and not 8 points as in 1950s.

  20. Gilbert Griffith
    28th September 2019, 23:53

    Why does he put unanimous support in inverted commas?
    I don’t believe teams would agree with any sort of reverse order starts. The cost on crash damage would wipe most teams out.

    1. Why does he put unanimous support in inverted commas?

      It’s in double quote marks because it’s a direct quote.

  21. Some of these thought bubbles that someone has been having really need to stay as thought bubbles.

  22. It might be like those Toyota Long Beach celebrity races where the stars start in front and the pros in the back. With fewer crashes one hopes.

    I honestly don’t see the point. If you want the faster cars to start the actual gp not at the front, then cap the starting spots by point ranking or some other direct action. Why go through this silly exercise of making them beat the people they have been beating soundly in the races in order to be put behind them to do it again. Do I really care to see Vettel blow by stroll one extra time in a weekend in a addition to lapping him in the race? When a top 3 team car starts in the back in a race now there is not much drama in seeing him mow down the midfield in 7 laps. The main result will be a lot of RBR poles. And the lower driver in a team letting his team leader by.

  23. The idea behind brainstorming is to put out any and all ideas, even the outlandish ones, with the hope of stimulating creative thought and breaking down barriers of reticence and inhibitions.

    It doesn’t mean you then take all of those ideas and then implement them!

    Someone at Liberty seems to have forgotten that there’s later a sifting through of those ideas to select, reject and prioritize those ideas. They seem to be trying out every darn idea conjured up.

  24. I was against it but hearing from him I’m actually pretty fond of it now. Imagine a pretty bad race (France, Abu dabdi etc) could really be spiced up by this…

  25. Up the road a few miles there’s a short track oval and they run figure 8 races. The drivers are talented and the spectacle is very entertaining. Liberty/ Ross should check this out.

    Its a better idea than reverse grids.

  26. I don’t think it will be that bad. I think it is perfectly fine to test this idea couple of races during the season. If I had to pick three races I’d choose Catalunia, Singapore and Paul Ricard. These races are proven to generally provide rather bland racing so why not try something different. If it doesn’t work then you did not lose much of value anyway.

    1. Thanks for the semi-iptimistic take @socksolid

  27. I would rather like to see qualifying being a 2-lap effort for each ’quali-lap’ to be set. 2 continous laps to set a time. Mainly because I like watching the cars at full speed. And that way I’d get more laps of full speed to watch. And it’d award consistency which is always great imo

    1. 2 continous laps

      The second lap won’t be as fast, because cars can deplete more electrical charge in a lap than they can generate in a lap.

      That’s the reason why in quali we have a charging lap (not just the tyre temps, but to charge up the energy store), and in races drivers occasionally back off on a lap (again, not just to cool the tyres/brakes/PU) before chasing hard again.

      1. charging lap

        “charging” in the sense charging a battery/ES, not “charging” like a bull. Red or other coloured.

  28. RIP F1.
    Once the circus element, aka “spectacle rhubarb” becomes the driving force.
    Drive it will.
    Drive all genuine F1 hardcore fans away from the sport, by ruination of the great tradition of racing cars.

  29. Why no sprinklers, mario kart gun pick-ups&speed lanes, fanboost and ramps. Come gimmick the hell out if already. A casual viewer might give it a 5 min glance! Before zapping to the next real life drama of some retarded group stuck in a island with one knife and 3 beans.

    1. But what IF this group finds F1 car secretly hidden in the center of the Island?
      Can they bring it to life and race around?!?!

  30. “Unanimous support”?!?

    Sounds like they didn’t ask anyone, and pretend that as no one loudly objecting they “support”.
    Stop killing F1!!!

    Fellow, RaceFans and F1 fans – let’s riot!
    These days people riot because of lot’s of important (and sometime less so) things! Let’s riot and save F1 from these geniuses!

    1. @dallein Did you actually read the article or just the headline?

      “The FIA and ourselves, at the moment we’ve got unanimous team support,” said Brawn.

  31. If you like lift and coast you’ll love a scheme that gives race winners a grid penalty at the next race.

  32. Pretty disappointed with everyone’s reactions here. It appears few people actually read the article, talking about how reverse grids at Monaco wouldn’t work—not such a thing was mentioned; anywhere—and immediately jumping to conclusions.

    Brawn is an engineer, and he understands that ideas and concepts need to be prototyped and tested. Whether the idea is good or not is determined by the outcome of the test.

    It’s only a couple (of now, many many) race weekends. Y’all remind me of Gordon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmZUI9z89EM

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