Ferrari still pushing for reverse grid sprint races to add “entertainment”

2021 Italian Grand Prix

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Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says Formula 1 should consider using reverse grids for its sprint qualifying races next year.

F1 proposed reverse grid sprint races on three separate occasions during 2019 and 2020 but was unable to win sufficient sport from teams to add them to the regulations.

The sprint qualifying format being used at three races this year, including this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, uses a regular qualifying session on Friday to determine the grid order. But Binotto is eager for F1 to experiment with a reverse grid.

“I like it,” he said. “I like it because I think that for the show and the spectacle it can be of interest.

“At the very start of the discussion of the mini-race format as Ferrari we were the one proposing it because I think whatever is your position on the classification, somehow that’s bringing some extra spectacle and that’s important for our fans. It’s important for the entertainment that F1 may offer.”

Binotto is supportive of F1’s sprint qualifying experiment, but said the sport needs to see how all three races with the format go before judging it.

“Certainly having the quali on the Friday, having only one hour for the drivers to be prepared for it and entering then into a parc ferme is something which is interesting because it jeopardises the overall balance of performance between the teams. So I’m in favour, generally speaking.

“I’m pretty sure that we can address it in terms of details. There are things that can be improved. But I think those ones again we can [be] open minded to discuss with F1, FIA, the other teams but I think we can do it only when the three races under the full experiment will be concluded.”

Another alternative to the current format which has been proposed would see the Saturday race run as a separate event in its own right, not setting the grid for Sunday, but continuing to award points.

“I can hear that there are different proposals like, for example, from drivers, that the quali on Friday is setting the grid on Sunday and I think having a mini-race on Saturday with the inverse grid compared to the championship [order]. I think whatever ideas can be of interest, I think it’s too early really to judge and to decide.”

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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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27 comments on “Ferrari still pushing for reverse grid sprint races to add “entertainment””

  1. someone or something
    10th September 2021, 16:14

    The title could’ve done without the scare quotes. Ferrari still pushing for reverse grid sprint races to add entertainment.
    Same meaning. And it would give the readers something to discuss before reaching the conclusion that this is rubbish.
    But no, let’s use quotation marks on that final word, totally because that is a quote without that has to be highlighted as such, and totally not because it lets the reader know exactly what to think.

      1. someone or something
        10th September 2021, 16:33

        In that case: Nothing to see, carry on.
        Apples and oranges.

  2. I think Bin8 surely can help with this regard by ensuring that Ferrari build a championship contender for next year and you’ll see the amount of entertainment with 2 capable drivers like Sainz and Leclerc fighting for the championship with Verstappen, Russell and Hamilton. That would be epic !
    I think the qualifying format as it is now is fine and the core issues of F1 – like for example the lack of competition at the front – need to be tackled rationally. Bernie-esque gimmicks will only make things worse.

  3. Introduce success ballast and reversed grids and Formula 1 would no longer be the pinnacle of motorsport. Then there would no longer be a ‘pinnacle of motorsport.’ And what would be the advantage of that? I simply don’t understand why anyone would want to add these kinds of gimmicks to Formula 1 when there are plenty of other motorsports that have them. It just makes sense that the pinnacle of motorsport should be pure, with the best on the day winning each Grand Prix, and that would not be the case with these kinds of gimmicks. F1 had been incredibly entertaining this season, one of the greatest seasons ever. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

    1. A reverse grid can actually add to the ‘pinnacle of motorsport’.
      Currently we almost never see the front runner driving in dirty air or showing their overtaking skills.

      A reverse grid on Saturday with a normal race on Sunday with more points would show us both.
      Quali still high for the main race.
      Fight through overtaking on Saturday for extra points.

      1. We’d end up with the fast going slow and the slow going fast in the “sprint” race, as the teams develop software to best predict which position (ie how far back) they should finish in the sprint race to maximise their points in a weekend…
        Depending how good the driver is at overtaking and how well the car performs overtaking you’d maybe see the odd driver or two wanting to be further back slowing to try and force the guy behind to come past and a back marker coming haring past both of them…That’s real entertainment, laugh a minute stuff!

        1. ??
          They don’t need software to know that finishing further ahead is beter as it gives you more (of a chance of) points.

  4. I wonder why they even bother to run a “global survey” when it’s clear they are pushing sprint races beyond what we got this year…

    Not only because it was already deemed a “success” and the “reaction was overwhelmingly positive”, but because it works for their business, and money talks, so we’re geting sprint races of all kinds and colours for the future… reserve grids, standalone races, whatever… it’s just going to happen, like it or not.

    It’s very, very sad…

    1. Not only because it was already deemed a “success” and the “reaction was overwhelmingly positive”, but because it works for their business, and money talks

      Doesn’t it mean it’s a success when it makes money? Or can’t a commercial business run a sport?

      1. They can but the sport will always suffer. Once so much money is involved the sport will never be main consideration. Look at the corruption involved with FIFA and IOC. F1 has avoided this largely by dictatorial decree.

  5. The people that run F1 have always been in their own bubble, but with COVID it’s even worse.
    The majority of fans do not like the sprint qualifying, but F1 does not want to hear that.

    1. The FOM people keep saying the format is popular while at the same time all the chattter and polling seems to indicate the opposite.

  6. I used to be fully against sprint races, but taking into account that a large number of people – majority, minority, new fans, I don’t know, but if there’s so much talk of this then it can’t be a vast minority – then we should at least consider this with an open mind. We should always keep in mind that F1 has been constantly changing throughout its history, so talk of “DNA of the sport” should always be viewed with caution.

    There was a nice hybrid solution I once saw posted, that could be a compromise to accomodate all sides of this endless sprint race debate. How about something like this:

    – Qualifying: normal qually as we have now, decides the grid for the Sunday Grand Prix, held on Friday or Saturday morning
    – Sprint race: reverse order race, based on current championship order, awards reduced number of points to top-6 finishers (or something like this), held on Saturday afternoon
    – Grand Prix: main event, uses grid from normal qualifying, awards normal number of points, held Sunday afternoon

    Pros: maintains link between qualifying and Grand Prix (pole is still the fastest driver), allows for mindless fun for new fans but with reduced impact on championship in the sprint race, much higher ammount of points for GP than sprint.

    I won’t say that this proposal is something I fully enjoy – I prefer the weekend as it is. Qualifying works, and the GP should not be touched. But maybe this way we can squeeze in something a bit different that will appease a larger number of people, and keep many people happy without destroying what is more traditional. Just an idea anyway…

  7. If they’d just run a few reverse grid races when they first thought about it, it would have been done and everyone could have figured out whether they liked it or not and got on with whatever came of it.

    But no – this is F1, where making a decision (or the inability thereof) is more a sport than what happens on the track.
    F1’s biggest enemy remains F1 and all the fingers in its pie.

    1. I disagree. Just because something is a trial, doesn’t mean it can’t affect the championship (and it wouldn’t be a representative trial unless it was part of the championship). But I think we all know what a reversed-grid would be like. There would be more close racing and overtaking, and it’s whether it is worth it considering that it would end F1’s title as the pinnacle of motorsport. And it seems the vast majority of fans believe that it is not worth it.

      1. it would end F1’s title as the pinnacle of motorsport.

        That’s nonsense!
        As long as you can make more points from the main event compared to the reverse one, then it can perfectly fit in ‘the pinnacle of motorsports’.
        Even more so IMO as I want to see both Hamilton and Verstappen showing their motorsports skills overtaking Alonso, and not just starting ahead of him only because their cars are faster.

      2. On the contrary @f1frog – I think it would be better for the ‘best’ F1 teams and drivers to have to show that they can race through the pack and not just drive away from it starting at the front every time. Normal qualifying does more to ruin the races than enhance them.
        The greater the challenges they face, the closer to this mystical ‘pinnacle’ they are.

        You’re right, trials would necessarily affect the championship – but that isn’t a bad thing. The championship is the same for everyone and the greatest performers over the course of the entire season get the most points. Effectively being awarded a WDC or WCC because of your designers rather than your racing performance isn’t really right, in a sporting sense.

        Oh, and the vast majority of fans probably haven’t ever made their thoughts public. The loudest ones are, of course, the ones who frequent sites such as this – which is presumably what your assumption is based on.

  8. Formula One should consider NOT running reverse grid races ever again.

    1. Hungary proved how nice reverse grid races could be.

      1. I totally disagree. Hungary was very exciting and is what a reversed-grid race would be like, but it was special because it happened by chance, rather than because of an artificial arrangement, and mainly because it doesn’t happen very often. If every Grand Prix was like Hungary with reversed grids, it would mean nothing. It felt great when Ocon and particularly Gasly won; it would feel artificial and meaningless if they were put there because of a low championship position. In my opinion, the introduction of reversed-grids would be, without a doubt, the worst rule-change in the history of Formula 1, infinitely worse than any other including even the double-points finale in 2014. Those who want a reversed-grid race should watch the BTCC.

        1. Interesting comparison – if something is special because it doesn’t happen very often – how do you feel about Hamilton’s and Mercedes’ long streak of dominance?

          I’m not really surprised that you don’t find the idea of the fastest cars starting at the back and still winning races appealing. I fully understand that some people prefer stats over actual on-track action.
          Personally, I find that the racing on the track is far more important than how good the car was when it rolled out in pre-season testing…

          Reverse grids put the racing where the spectators can see it.

          1. S,
            First of all, I would like to say that I do very much enjoy arguing with you. Although we seem to disagree on almost every point, it leads to many good discussions. However, I think we have had this debate about reversed-grids many times, and we both feel very strongly about it and so will not be able to change each other’s minds. I understand your opinion and think it has some merit, but it seems we just see the sport in a different way. Thank you for the enjoyable discussion, but I would suggest it is time to agree to disagree.

  9. I don’t like the sprint race concept or reverse grids, however I do think this idea is better than the current format of sprint qualifying:

    “I can hear that there are different proposals like, for example, from drivers, that the quali on Friday is setting the grid on Sunday and I think having a mini-race on Saturday with the inverse grid compared to the championship [order].

    This way the race isn’t affected by the sprint event and the ppls with short attention spans can still enjoy something. It’s less likely to affect the championship because extensive overtaking would be required in the short race to pick up a a scant number of points. The Sunday race would still start based on the qualifying grid

  10. If it must be done, make it a Saturday morning lined up in reverse championship order then just run qualy and the race as normal on Saturday afternoon and Sunday. I’d quite like to see a grand prix after today’s qualifying but instead we’ll have a sprint.

  11. Go back to the 2005-2009 cars. Solved.

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