Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, Monza, 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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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...
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27 comments on “F1’s latest reverse-grid race plan ‘not something we should even come close to’”

  1. Ross says a lot of negative things and then says “but it’s a difficult balance”. How so? He never mentioned one upside…

    1. Yeah @fer-no65 , both here and in talking about the sprint, the upsides didn’t really get mentioned. I concluded that is because they are not so much racing related,but big enough incentives that this, or something like it has to happen.

  2. Don’t.
    Just don’t.

  3. GtisBetter (@passingisoverrated)
    11th September 2021, 21:07

    Liberty will just “try” it, say it was a great success and fans love it and add it.

  4. Let the drivers grouy decide at every race.
    If they agree to do it, they exclusively get the points.

    Reply moderated
  5. Why would they say it was popular if it wasn’t?

  6. They could also throw banana’s at each other

  7. Looking forward to this; it’s moving in the right direction IMO.
    A standard race with some extra icing on top due to less practice, and reverse sprint race as the cherry on top.

  8. “The potential is there” is Ross speak for “We will be doing it regardless”. It’s just a matter of when.
    Might as well introduce fan boost and exploding bananas while you’re at it.
    And we all thought Bernie came up with some stupid ideas (he did but maybe not as persistently)

  9. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    11th September 2021, 23:28

    Just stop. There is no improving the format… make the racing closer and get the teams closer and you will have an interesting product.

    1. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
      11th September 2021, 23:48

      And stop with the awful circuits… Russia and uae I’m looking at you.

  10. Seems I’m in the minority being a big big fan of this idea. The reverse-grid sprint race would have to be longer than 100 km though. I want to see the championship leaders having to fight through the field more often, and if there are enough reverse-grid races in the championship, that gives an incentive to designers to ensure their cars can run well in dirty air. Of course, the new cars should help enormously in this regard.

  11. “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.”

    Brawn comes out saying this just after Liberty commission a survey with one of the questions being about success ballast. Also it won’t be a stand alone event it will be another GP with points given contributing to a new separate championship. Which by default will compete with the traditional GP.

  12. I’m probably going to get a lot of flak for my suggestion but I’ll make it anyway.
    Do away completely with free practise sessions.

    Friday format:
    Morning 1 hour qualifying session to decide grid for race 1.
    Afternoon race 1, full GP distance, free choice of tyres to start race, no re-fuelling, no enforced pit stops.
    Saturday format:
    Afternoon race 2, full GP distance, starting order as per finishing order for race 1, free tyre choice, no re-fuelling, no enforced pit stops.
    Sunday format:
    Afternoon race 3, full GP distance, starting order as per finishing order for race 2, free tyre choice, no re-fuelling, no enforced pit stops.
    Parc ferme from the end of Friday qualifying for rest of weekend.
    Points are awarded for each race as per current GP system.

    Liberty get what they want which is more product to sell to TV channels.
    Fans get more competitive on track time.
    Racing becomes more unpredictable as reliability becomes a big issue again.

    If you’re going for change make it something radical, not just tinkering at the fringes.

    1. @ceevee So that would be potentially 60 GPs in a year if they dropped back to 20 venues. Well the budget cap just got thrown out the window. Also the exclusivity of having a GP would disappear over night devaluing the events and eventually rendering them worthless.
      Or you could be making a sarcastic comment :))

      1. It would be an ideal opportunity to weed out the rubbish circuits, (looking at you Monaco, Hungary) and make it a championship of maybe 10 circuits max.
        Quality not quantity.

    2. Ok, here’s my flak:

      You’re seeing it from a perspective of a bored fan and completely ignore the need for preparation and chances for young drivers to develop.

      1. What I’m proposing limits over preparation, more a ‘run what you brung’ type approach.
        As for driver development. I’m sure they would prefer to be racing rather than testing.

  13. My first preference is just the Grand Prix race.
    My second preference is to say f-it and have a reverse grid overtaking championship bolted on.
    And my third pref is what we currently have with the sprints awarding main points.

  14. I’ve got a much better idea than any of these sprint races.

    Have a one-hour qualifying session to set the grid. Do that on Saturday. Then on Sunday, have a grand prix.

    Then move to the next venue and do the same again.

  15. Ross just never gives up does he.. reverse grid was soundly trounced last year yet here it is again.
    After passionately following F1 for the last 35 years I believe this is my last season.

  16. Ross Brawn about awarding more points for (standalone) sprint race:

    “I think it would have to. For the drivers to fight hard I think you have to have some decent reward.”

    Why couldn’t you have thought of that in the first place before shoving sprint races down our throats? There is no reward for risk so they will only be exciting if something goes horribly wrong such as Gasly losing a front wing and now starting near the back instead of P6.

  17. I always beleived the sprint races were not the end goal here. It’s about incremental changes. The frog in the boiler pot for want of a better analogy (don’t eat or boil frog, eat brocolli instead).

    reverse grids, success ballasts, spec cars (or move towards that). It’s all coming. F1 crowds out all the opposition in the market place in terms of eyes on motorsport, so they have the licence to do what they want.

    This year I’ve already watched less F1 than I have for a very long time, despite being big Hamilton and Verstappen fan. The sprint quali has sapped all my energy for Sunday. It’s like a film trailer thats far too long and spoils the movie.

  18. This sounds like admittance that he doesn’t expect his new regulations to improve racing at all. Otherwise why force through this nonsense?

  19. Will never happen. Just stop talking about reverse grid from now on.

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