Ross Brawn, Interlagos, 2019

Reverse-grid qualifying race plan “didn’t come from Liberty” – Brawn

2020 F1 season

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Formula 1 managing director Ross Brawn says Liberty Media is not behind a plan to introduce reverse-grid qualifying races into F1.

Two attempts to introduce the scheme for the 2020 F1 season have been blocked by teams in the past nine months. Speaking exclusively to RaceFans, Brawn denied the plan is being imposed on the sport by its commercial rights holder.

“Liberty have never said to me ‘we want to jazz the thing up’,” said Brawn. “They said to me that they want to maintain the integrity of the sport, they don’t want gimmicks.

“Their priority was to look at how they could use the content that already existed in better ways rather than changing the fundamentals of the content. By that, the racing, et cetera. So how can they bring that racing to a wider audience, how can they enhance the quality of their content?

“The reverse grids, I honestly don’t know where it came from but it didn’t come from Liberty.”

The plan for reverse-grid qualifying races was developed internally by Formula 1, Brawn explained.

“We have a strategy group inside Formula 1 now headed by Yath Gangakumaran. He makes sure that we are all regularly sitting down and thinking about this. Yath himself has plenty of ideas, he came from Sky TV, he makes sure that we all sit down and think about these things rather than them just happening by accident.

“So we have regular strategy meetings, that includes the FIA, includes the teams and we present different aspects. So some of it we do I would say from within the company. So you look at the graphics on the screens that have been expanded, that was pretty much internal work.”

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Brawn pointed out Formula 1 is also able to draw on the expertise of former technical figures such as Pat Symonds, Rob Smedley and Jason Somerville.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2019
Poll shows most fans did not support reverse grid race plan – Wolff
“We now have groups that work within the company looking at how we can improve the format of the racing, how we can improve the engagement with the fans and that [plan] will have come from within an internal set of discussions.

“Certainly Greg [Maffei, Liberty Media president and CEO] is not ringing me up and saying, hey, you’ve got to do this, you’ve got to do that. Greg’s very interested in what’s going on and of course Chase [Carey, Formula 1 chairman and CEO] is involved as well.”

However Brawn admitted Carey has discussed how F1 could improve its more processional races.

“The message Chase has given is that we have to have good racing and the integrity is always critical. When we have a boring race I’ve tried to explain the perspective of that because not all races are really exciting.

“But of course Chase pushes and says ‘what can we learn from it? What can be done that might have made that race more entertaining for the fans without affecting the integrity?’ But he’s certainly never coming along and saying ‘I think there should be a reverse grid sprint race’ that’s come from our internal thinking.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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33 comments on “Reverse-grid qualifying race plan “didn’t come from Liberty” – Brawn”

  1. Doesn’t know where the idea came from ???

    Don’t they keep minutes of their regular ideas meeting?

    1. Any other business….

      And we have a postcard from a Mrs Trellis of North Wales. She asks “why oh why oh why don’t grids reverse. I reversed my grid and now I can see Anglesey on a clear day”

      Shall we vote on that chaps?

  2. “They said to me that they want to maintain the integrity of the sport, they don’t want gimmicks.”

    Maybe it was a race promoter that pitched the idea, knowing that having two races in the same track a week appart would not generate as much excitement because the results could easily be the same in both events. But if they don’t want gimmicks, they shouldn’t even have discussed the idea…

    1. Austria … a certain Doctor was in favour of the second race in reverse grid. Now i know Wolff comes from Spielberg but he wasn’t the one.

      1. @macleod He comes from Vienna actually. The latter I mean.

        1. correct Wolff loves Spielberg were he learn racing when he started.

  3. Brawn is really starting to ice my grill with this nonsense.
    Fans overwhelmingly do not want this but do want fairer distribution of prize money and removal of Ferrari veto – focus on that.

    1. Prize money distribution and Ferrari veto aren’t Brawn’s problems. He’s on the technical side. That’s mostly part of Chase Carey’s job in the contract renewals

      1. Prize money distribution has been put into affect going forward. Ferrari’s veto power sounds like it will remain, however, what guarantee has that given them of Championships? Of course there are the other measures such as totally different cars that will actually be able to race close together. They don’t need to be told what to focus on. Liberty and Brawn have been focused on fixing BE’s F1 ever since they took over.

  4. Leveling the performance across the field. There’s no other way of doing it.

    Did someone came with the idea of tieing one of Myke Tyson’s arm to make boxing more interesting in the 80’s?

    Or maybe adding an eye patch to Messi or Neymar’s outfit?

    Winning should be by merit, not by chance. Freeze the regulations (not the development) after 2022 and we’ll see what happens.

    1. Given the current spread of the field, any top driver in a Merc, a RB or a Ferrari should be able to win the race on merit.
      It’s only the cry baby drivers (and their fans)who know they lack the skill, yet drive one of those 6 cars, who oppose the idea.

    2. Here we go comparing strictly human-effort sports with machine-dependent motorsports again.
      No car racing series has ever attempted to handicap the human element – only their car performance, race starting position or the team’s development potential.

      Winning should indeed be on merit, but ‘merit’ is a wide-ranging concept.
      It could be simplified as far as ‘first across the line wins’ regardless of all other factors. Or it could be complicated by numerous facets including budget, machine and human resourcing levels, data transfer and political power through expensive and exclusive engine supply contracts, and even having very specific team structures to maximise the results for one driver at the expense of another.
      Given all those compounding and interfering factors, is F1 really won on merit alone now?
      Of course it isn’t – not for the drivers or the teams.

      Freezing the regulations now does little besides locking in the current state.
      By the time that 2022 arrives, the damage is already done and it will be too late.

      1. The older generation would rather take F1 down with itself than allow it to transition to a 21st century investment.
        The reverse grid race would just be another additional challenge in “motorsport” but that is perhaps too sensible an idea for some to handle.

        1. Jay, whilst you claim that “The older generation would rather take F1 down with itself than allow it to transition to a 21st century investment.”, it seems that opposition to the idea of a reverse grid goes across multiple generations of fans.

          1. As does the support for it.

            But it isn’t really about age, or how long a viewer has watched F1 – it’s about what they want to watch in the future.

      2. Don’t criticize reverse grids because they are “artificial”. F1 racing is in it’s essence artificial. The rules change constantly, the cars are as much aircraft as automobiles; and the rules, financial platform and even governance are about as far from organic as one could imagine. All of which is not a criticism.
        I think we need to keep our eye on the prize when discussing this subject. If the goal is to promote close racing, then we need to be open to ways in which that can be done and still maintain the core structure of the sport. When it comes to pure racing, whatever that might be, nothing is more artificial than the DRS; when it comes to an equitable competition between the teams, nothing is more inequitable than the structured favoritism shown to Ferrari. It is always good to remember that the sport is also a business, which in and of itself demands certain restrictive compromises.
        The proposed rule changes are a distinctive step in the right direction and should be supported

        1. If the goal is to promote closer racing, there are really only two ways to make that happen.
          Either balance the performance of each car/team so they all have equal opportunity.
          Or make all the cars completely identical, thus equalising their potential.

          Neither of which is an ‘F1’ enough solution for the majority of viewers.

          The budget cap was scoffed at decades ago as being ‘not F1’ either, but we have it now.
          DRS was illegal up until it’s forced introduction in 2011.
          F1 has a single specification engine formula, a single tyre supplier, extremely tightly controlled car design regulations, limited CAD/sim/wind tunnel resource usage time and a terribly politically controlled field of teams.
          The next introduction is the introduction of a balance of testing resource system.
          There’s talk of holding reverse grid races now.

          So what is F1’s core structure, anyway? And how is it being maintained?

    3. I feel like peak Mike Tyson would still have knocked everyone out with an arm behind his back. Messi with an eye patch, i’m not sure, but there’s time to find out. Ross never suggested gluing Schumachers’ fingers together in the early 2000’s, instead we had one set of tyres for a race instead.

  5. Of course! It just magically appeared on change list all on its own!


  6. I really don’t like the idea of having 2 races at the same track. With no testing and no development whoever wins the first one wins the 2nd, totally pointless.

  7. tony mansell
    5th June 2020, 15:59

    Reverse grids isn’t a gimmick, nor is handicapping. Its been going on as long as we have been racing. The piousness of some race fans knows no bounds. When we have gimmicks for overtaking, teams with bigger catering budgets than some teams have for R & D and voting skewed towards the big fella, could we not try it once, just to see? If its rubbish, fair enough. Whatever the fans think, depends on the question but 9 out of 10 teams voted for this.

    1. GtisBetter (@)
      5th June 2020, 16:18

      Reverse grid goes against what most people would consider racing is all about and don’t want it at the highest level. Just like balance of performance. You don’t reward good things, you just introduce randomness to it. Most fans also don’t like DRS. Big budgets are being addressed by the budget cap.

      1. tony mansell I don’t disagree. I only saw this as an experiment they could have tried for these coming back to back weekends that are at the same track, unique because of the pandemic. Would I want this concept permanently? No I don’t think so. Do I think such a thing should be necessary once the new cars that are no longer clean air dependent are on the track? No I don’t think so.

    2. What do hospitality budgets have to do with the fairness of f1? Someone will always have more money than you do, being salty because theyre eating better than you is downright laughable. Grow up.

      1. tony mansell
        6th June 2020, 12:08

        Eh CM what are you taking about? Budgets have a lot to do with everything in F1. I don’t normally reply to people who tell me to grow up but may I just add WHOOSH

  8. The FiA sets the sporting regulations, maybe it came from them??!!

    1. No, Ross specifically singled-out, Yath in his not too subtle buck-passing:

      Yath himself has plenty of ideas, he came from Sky TV, he makes sure that we all sit down and think about these things rather than them just happening by accident.

      There’s a ringing endorsement – Sky TV. Who wouldn’t trust an ex-Sky exec with plenty of ideas on how to ‘spice up the show’?

      The good news is that even though these hair-brained ‘improvements’ appear to be accidental or irrelevant, we fans can be reassured that the Liberty brain-trust has had a good think about introducing new gimmicks.

      1. It wasn’t Ross’s idea, it was someone else, but Ross is the one that keeps dragging it back up and trying to get it to happen.

        I didn’t have a great deal of time for him when he and Jean were in charge of the team with the veto (that wasn’t their idea either) and have about the same or less now since he’s become the main mumbler for Liberty’s stranger ideas.

  9. Next idea: “we will load 100 kg of bricks on the fastest qualifiers for the race”.

  10. The reverse grid idea is being spoken of with regard to the 2nd races in Austria and UK in order to avoid them being rerund of the first races. A simpler solution for this season (that even purists might approve of) would be to drop the 2 compound tyre regs and disable DRS. If the teams then needed to trim out the wings to compensate for the lack of DRS, the characteristics of the cars relative to the circuit and each other may change enough to mix things up a bit.
    The reverse grid idea and the precise format could then be given more time to be discussed constructively.

  11. Bernie’s idea…

  12. So the idea came from the Sky TV guy, who would’ve thought..

  13. It would be like throwing a totally new track at the drivers and expecthing them to get their breaking points learned in a couple of days. In most cases these drivers, the best drivers, have spent years learning where those breaking points are. Even with simulators, i doubt they would get this right on the night. It could lead to mistakes and accidents, all in the interest of sporting entertainment.

    Basis for all this is to have the same track appear different, in that case don’t they have different race layouts they could try?

    Also if they drive in reverse, wont the rubber distribution on the track be different, in other words wont the ideal driving line have changed. Not to metion the otheridiosyncrasies of the track. Braking markers on the track, kurb bumps etc…

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