Start, Nurburgring, 2020

Third rejection for F1’s reverse-grid qualifying race plan

2021 F1 season

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Plans to introduce reverse-grid qualifying races at a limited number of rounds during the 2021 F1 season have fallen foul of a lack of support from teams.

Under the plan, qualifying sessions at a limited number of F1 weekends would have been replaced with sprint races starting with the field in reverse championship order. The finishing positions of these short races would have set the starting order for the grand prix.

RaceFans understands the proposal was discussed at a meeting of the Formula 1 Commission on Monday. As it became clear the plan did not have the support of a majority of teams, it was not put to a vote.

This is the third time Formula 1’s efforts to introduce the proposal have failed due to a lack of support. The scheme was twice floated for introduction this year but blocked both times.

Formula 1 motorsport manager Ross Brawn seized on last month’s lively Italian Grand Prix to make the latest bid to introduce the rules, claiming the Monza race “showed the excitement a mixed-up pack can deliver”.

FIA president Jean Todt said he was not in favour of reverse grid races but would not block the proposal if it had sufficient support.

In order for the proposal to be approved for next year, F1 required the support of at least eight of the 10 teams. But with Mercedes, Racing Point, McLaren and Renault among those expected to oppose it, the plan looked unlikely to proceed prior to Monday’s meeting.

The plan was also not popular among drivers, who criticised is as “artificial”, “completely wrong”, and likened it to World Wrestling Entertainment. Several drivers said F1 should wait to see whether the planned technical regulations changes in 2022 delivers better racing before considering whether radical changes to the race weekend format are necessary.

Had it been approved, the proposal would have been a major break from tradition. Qualifying sessions have been held at every single one of the 1,030 events which have counted towards the world championship since it began in 1950.

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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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  • 61 comments on “Third rejection for F1’s reverse-grid qualifying race plan”

    1. In general, I don’t support the teams having a say over the rules, but they’ve done us a favour here.

      1. If you were a team owner I’m sure once the shoe starts pinching you will be singing a different tune.
        There must always be the opportunity for input from the team owners, they get to expend the resources required to put up the show and if rules are made that do not make sense or are going to be extremely costly, they should have the chance to resist.

      1. It was a foolish, Ecclestone-like, hare-brained idea. That Brawn would even consider it is worrying.

        1. Not only was Ross Brawn considering it, he seemed to be the one justifying and pushing for it. It makes me wonder. After assuming the role he currently occupies in F1, everyone seemed so sure that he was finally a man with reason, put in charge of directing the sport in the right direction. That he knows the sport through and through. That he knows the history and what the sport needs to thrive. He was hailed for what he achieved during his time in the sport as a competitor, thus he would do great as a leader for F1 in general.
          Considering the ideas he has put forth so far in the last few years, I’m not really so sure of him being the savior he was thought to be. Yes he was brilliant in Ferrari and Brawn GP/Mercedes. But that only shows he’s great at working while confined by rules and regulations. It doesn’t mean he’d be great at making them.
          His ideas seem more aligned to Bernie’s than we might’ve thought. And I thought we were finally done with them.

    2. At this point, irrespective of wanting to try this or not, just let this matter be. Three times is too much, I’m tired of this debate, let qualy stay as it is.

    3. Can we now expect round 4? Or can we finally put this to bed?

      1. Suspect rounds 5, 6, and 7.

        1. Coventry Climax
          28th October 2020, 21:51

          Expect rounds again and again until it finally comes into effect. And then they will triumphantly say it was something we’ve all been wanting for a long time, that it’s a giant step forward towards a better show (ugghh) and all the other blah to make a lame duck look like a soaring eagle.

    4. Good.
      Attempts by current owners to make F1,
      a WWE Circus show are an outrage.

    5. Teams don’t want it, drivers don’t want it, fans don’t want it. Liberty as usually are going down the wrong rabbit hole in trying to solve F1s many problems

      1. + 1 Thank goodness the teams have shown the common sense to reject this.

    6. Everybody inside and outside of F1 knows that technological marketing from big brands has overpowered the sporting competition. Hopefully they can fix it whichever way they choose.

    7. It will rear it’s head again.

      Just wait for Michael Masi to make a ham-fisted attempt to sex up one of the forthcoming races through safety car deployment or unwarranted penalties and the F1FanVoice will ring yet again with a survey on how much better you like races with unpredictability, riven with questions designed so you cannot say no.

      Then it will come back again, and again, just as Commodus says in Gladiator.

    8. claiming the Monza race “showed the excitement a mixed-up pack can deliver”

      This is such nonsense anyway. If anything, Monza showed that a reverse grid race doesn’t work at all.

      The cars could not overtake in the DRS train and there was no excitement. Other than the fact that “someone else won”.

      1. Part of the problem is that fans rated that race extremely high; 74% on this siterated it 9 or 10.

      2. Part of the problem is that fans rated that race extremely high.

        1. 74% on this site rated it 9 or 10.

          1. I seem not to be able to post links to pages on this site.
            Strange!
            Suggest you look up ‘rate the race 2020 italian grand prix’

            1. too many ‘˙uoᴉʇɐɹǝpoɯ ƃuᴉʇᴉɐʍɐ sᴉ ʇuǝɯɯoɔ ɹno⅄’.
              annoying!

        2. Mainly because a Mercedes didn’t win.

    9. Such a shame but the expected usual outcome whenever F1 is presented with a chance to change something for the better.

    10. Good thing, but the reverse-grid format isn’t the only thing that would introduce artificial randomness, which doesn’t have or at least shouldn’t have a place on the highest level of circuit racing that is F1. Standing restarts following red-flag stoppages are something that should be done away with, as they can also artificially create excitement, and more importantly, unfairly penalize some drivers. Something that most notably happened to Stroll in Monza but wouldn’t have happened with a more traditional rolling restart. Another one is, of course, resorting to full SC when VSC would or should be suitable such as with Norris’ case at Nurburgring, Russell’s in Austria 1, and Bottas’ in Brazil last season. Not only does it unnecessarily increase overall race time (like standing restarts), but it can also unfairly penalize some drivers over others compared to VSC. Artificial randomness or excitement created artificially should get reduced as much as possible, not the other way round.

      1. There are so many aspects of F1 that are already massively ‘artificial’ that any argument that F1 is more pure than any other category or sport is just plain nonsense.

        All sports inherently create situations that work out better for some competitors than others. There’s no avoiding it.
        A VSC helps the leaders more than the backmarkers – while a full SC helps the backmarkers more than the leaders. Which is more fair?
        A rolling restart (especially so in single file) gives the leaders a massive advantage over the backmarkers, while a standing start works the same a race start – with the leader at the front and the slower cars at the back. Which is more fair?

        I don’t know about you, but when I watch sport, I don’t want to know what’s going to happen. I want to see who can react and adapt best to what is happening, then watch them out-race and out-strategise each other and see what comes out at the end.
        I don’t see a red flag or a SC as an artificial intrusion – I see it as a reactionary sporting aspect; it’s not planned in advance. It’s no different than what happens when the ball goes out in football or basketball – play stops, everyone gets into a new position, and then the sport resumes from there. Some win, some lose.
        That’s sport.

        1. @S Your counter-arguments regarding SC vs. VSC and rolling start vs. standing one: Full SC has the potential to inadvertently impact the outcome of a race or even championship if the leader loses out through no fault of his own in a bunched-up field that isn’t the case with VSC. The same with standing restarts over rolling ones. Another form of penalizing one for success by taking away the advantage and gap earned before by forcing to do a stationary start from a potentially unfavorable grid slot.

          1. @jerejj
            Anything and everything that happens on the circuit has the potential to impact the outcome of the race/championship.
            VSC still allows for some to take a cheap pit-stop, and others not – depending on where they are on track at the time and how long it lasts for.
            A standing restart still leaves the cars in order – only the time gap has reduced.

            Enough of this ‘penalizing success’ nonsense – this is exactly what the sporting aspect of F1 is about. It doesn’t matter how much time Hamilton loses being held up by a SC, he still has position at the front of the pack. That’s his advantage.
            That’s all he gets from qualifying, and that’s all he gets in the race.

            Stuff happens in sport, and it’s the reactions to those happenings that are important.
            If you like to see one car driving away from the field uncontested, then you can enjoy it again after a SC.
            Personally, I like to see cars racing together and fighting for position, and a full SC and a standing restart provide that – while maintaining the sporting aspects in full, IMO. The best aspects of any car racing are when the cars are together, not when they are spread out.

    11. Just have the reverse grid qualifying events next year and be done with it, for goodness sake.
      Everyone will know whether it works or not, whether it is a good thing or not, and whether to keep it or not in the future.

      Then the 2022 regs are supposedly going to ‘fix’ F1 and no such ‘gimmick’ will be needed anyway, right?

      We already know what most of the podiums will look like and who will be crowned champion next year.
      Please allow us something to make a few events different, interesting and memorable.

      1. Or lets not ever have them and just carry on with qualifying as its been for 70 years. Qualifying is the one thing in F1 that needs no messing about with. The current format allows for some unpredictability, the occasional big exit and we still get to see the fastest raw pace in the cars.

        Not interested in watching the worst cars on the grid get mugged in a sprint race every lap or seeing championship contenders being wiped out by no hopers in some artificial race. Also while ever Red Bull have 2 teams, that is a unfair advantage.

        About time Liberty got the message and dropped this stupid idea completely.

        1. How many times has qualifying been ‘messed about with?’
          The current format certainly wasn’t around 70 years ago.

          Not interested in watching the same 3 cars disappear off into the distance, unchallenged, at every event.
          Would much prefer championship contenders to fight it out on Sunday against the rest of the field – even if that fight only lasts for a handful of laps. If they get ‘taken out’ – perhaps they should have been more careful and strategic about when and where they pull a move, given that it’s almost inevitable that they will still reach the podium anyway.

          Mercedes are quite welcome to buy another team, just as Red Bull did….
          Oh wait, they already control Racing Point, Williams and now McLaren politically through their engine deals.

          About time that Liberty got the message that viewers, just like manufacturers, race teams and sponsors, come and go all the time regardless of what rules are in place. Might as well give us something worth watching that is different once in a while. For just 3 or 4 events. Next year. With the same cars as this year. Before the new technical regs are introduced in 2022.
          It’s abundantly clear from this year that we want to see something different. This is different.

          1. I like people speaking on behalf of the abundantly clear great majority of educated long time fans of this boring sport that should be entertaining every single boring minutes no matter what trickery has to be used for the sake of a different kind of boredom every boring week-end! Shoot I managed to sound pretty boring to myself :)

            1. If you find F1 to be boring, wouldn’t you agree that it should change so as to stop being boring?

              It won’t just magically get better all by itself.

    12. Why are they even trying to revive the dead rotten ideas

      1. Because F1 is rotten. As stale as 7 year-old bread.

    13. People still talking about reverse grid? They’ll never happen in history.

      1. But maybe in the future…

    14. Can’t say I’m too upset!

    15. As boring as this Mercedes dominance is, reverse grid is an awful idea – it goes against the principles of F1 for me.

      1. It’s possibly even a worse idea than “random sprinklers” or “double points for the last race”.

        1. Compared to all the absurd ideas F1 has come up with over the years sprinklers doesn’t actually seem so bad.

        2. Coventry Climax
          28th October 2020, 22:10

          @Steve (@scbriml): and “DRS”, and “saving fuel”, and “titanium sparkles because the look good for the ignorant”, and “Pirelli”, and “Pirelli as the only tyre supplier”, and introducing the “SC”, and introducing “VSC”, and “blue flags for backmarkers”, and “paying Ferrari rediculously massively just for being there so long”, and “the Ferrari right to veto”, and… i’m out of breath.
          They’re blind people put into a maze: unable to see they’re getting in further and further instead of getting out.

    16. ok now you have boring races enjoy in boring races mercedes is faster then whole cars about 50 seconds, put mercees on last grid ,after 25 lap mercedes car wil be in top 5, but we wil se lot oovertakings now we have 1 lewis 2 bottas 3 verstapen, overtaking 10 place -15 place, moto g is better f1 is boring, wee need same cars on grid then it woul be better

      1. Go watch Formula E or Formula 2 if you like everyone being in the same car. There is no other sport like F1 for those of us who love the sport and have followed it for years.

    17. Common sense prevails.

      1. Common sense would be not reviving this idea for 3rd time when it was rejected twice in past.

        1. Better late than never I guess.

    18. Guess I’m in the minority here who would like to see how this works. But I stopped watching qualifying maybe three years ago now because it just isn’t that interesting to me anymore, so maybe my view is biased. If there was closer competition at the top, I might be tempted back, but as it stands, I don’t want to commit an hour of my weekend waiting for Hamilton or maybe Bottas to enevitably grab pole with Max coming in third.

      I’m fairly sure I would tune in for a qualifying race, however.

    19. There is not a single sensible proposal yet. It could be feasible but on the right conditions, for example a sprint race on saturday after qualy, reverse q2 grid, 100km race, no mandatory tyre change, points 10-7-5-3-2-1 (only top 6), free dra (no limit on use), they could try 1 or 2 times to see how it works, that way it could go proper sprint balls out race, imagine Russell defending 1st on that scenario!

    20. If they really must have a sprint race then why not just leave qualifying alone and replace FP3 with a sprint race – grid order to be finishing order of last race?

    21. I would have loved to see a reverse grid, just for a few races to see how it would work out. It could be something new, something different or just an exciting change of pace – and if it was truly awful then it could just be quietly retired. Given how chronically dull some of the races have been this year the reverse grid might have actually given some excitement.

      I’m constantly disappointed by the outcry against any form of change or experimentation, while simultaneously complaining about predictability and dull races. F1 in general survived by innovation but here we are clinging on to the status quo. It’s disappointing.

      1. Bingo!

        I don’t understand the intense opposition for just 3 or 4 different sessions in one season.
        If this year hasn’t been enough proof that sometimes change in F1 isn’t so bad, then surely some of those in opposition simply don’t want F1 to appeal to anyone other than themselves. What an utterly selfish attitude.

        I just wish all these resisters would stop implying that every change in F1 is permanent. Nothing in F1 is permanent.
        F1 is in a constant state of change.
        A quick change for next year when F1 needs it most, then another change the year after. Hardly worth getting upset about.

        1. @rocketpanda @S

          I too was for the experiment, but have fallen away from it, particularly given how opposed the teams and the drivers are to it, and how it has been well pointed out that the unpredictability that can come from the odd rainy or red-flaggy race would not be duplicated by an intentional reversing of the grid quali race.

          As I say I agreed with your points about the variety of it, the ‘oh why not for just a few races’ side of it for ‘what harm can it do,’ but given the overwhelming desire from within F1 for this to not happen, I’m fine accepting that it would seem the majority within F1 and without think this is artificial enough that it overwhelms the predictability factor if quali is left alone. As much as folks complain about the predictability, artificial means of addressing that are obviously not the answer. So I don’t see this as ‘clinging to the status quo’ of dreaded predictability, but rather not straying from the status quo by integrity harming, blatantly obvious artificial means, which is how I’m assuming those against this would word it.

          I’m content that after next year there should be much less predictability, no need for drs, much closer racing, teams starting to get closer to each other, and by extension no need whatsoever for a reverse grid quali race. Shedding themselves of clean air dependence is to me a massive game changer that will have huge effects.

          1. Yeah, but for next year – taken in isolation…. Is it really the end of the world if 3 or 4 events next year change one session?
            2022 is a completely separate issue altogether.

            I find it so amusingly frustrating that DRS is accepted as part of F1 now because we weren’t even consulted about it – but when they do consult with us, everything gets rejected.
            Who wanted a single tyre supplier? Who wanted excessive downforce and turbulence? Who wanted hybrid V6’s? Who even wanted a single, universal engine spec at all?
            We weren’t given a choice and all of those were pushed through.

            But changing qualifying a few times for one year – when the cars are not changing, the races are boring and the championship is over before it even begins? Oh no – that would fundamentally change F1 forever and we can’t have that…
            F1 fans… (rolls eyes)

    22. One of the few things is wrong by Ross Brawn. In the past and in the future, different teams and drivers will do the best with their skills. Not just now, but the best will lead the qualifying. Not in reverse, please.

    23. Hopefully after being shot down for a third time this is the last we’ll hear of it.

    24. Three things we don’t want;

      – reverse grid races
      – overly-powerful DRS zones
      – races in countries where we’re expanding for expansion sake (i.e. Russia, Saudi Arabia) meaning epic circuits like Mugello, Nurburgring and Portimao won’t be on the calendar

    25. I have the following idea about deciding whether the reverse grid races are good enough. (But at first why do they want to have them as qualifying, instead of having them as a shorter sprint race. As merely qualifying it not awards championship points, and the presumably better tyre handling of the stronger teams combined with DRS will be at enough to produce at about the usual race results even after a reverse grid qualifying race. At reverse grid wualifying races I would expect every potent entrant gaining some or a bit more places, and do the rest at therace because of the aforementioned reason.)

      So my idea is something like trialling reverse grid qualifying races by ordeal:
      1. Let’s have some reverse grid qualifying races. Preferably at least 4 or 5, to give an idea for many whether they really stri up the order or not. Probably they could test them with cars from previous seasons, to avoid it’s side effects on the championship resuls. If they have some non championship races for they tests they could have some exaggerated aero, like very big and very complex wings, to see it in full pomp (although designing them propery likely would take too much, so it’s just fantasy).
      2. Then let’s borrow the less aero dependent cars of F2 (or Super Formula) and let’s see the F1 drivers doing some sprint races without DRS. Preferably on the softest compound available (so on C5 or on abrasive tracks on C4), with one pit stop, so they would use two sets of those softs. The sprint race would be something like 25-30 laps long (actually the length should be chosen sufficient enough to introduce some tyre magangement issues for the least talented participants). Let’s have 4-5 races like this too. Although rubber compounds made for F2 are likely somewhat different, so probably these details aren’t accurate, the point is, to use quite soft tyres and have a pit stop, to allow them to push quite hard.

      And then ask the fans to rate these formats at F1 Fan Voice :)

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