If Formula 1 was polling the drivers over whether it should introduce reverse-grid races next year, they would receive a resounding response of ‘no’.

Despite having two attempts to push through a sprint-style reverse championship sequence grid race to replace qualifying sessions at some rounds to set the grid for the main grand prix on Sunday foiled, F1 remains determined to introduce the format in 2021.

F1 motorsport director Ross Brawn argued that this year’s Italian Grand Prix highlighted why the championship should consider running reverse-grid races to add further excitement and spice up the show.

The proposal of ditching qualifying for a 30-minute, 25-lap sprint race to determine the grid for Sunday’s grand prix at four events next season has been put to fans in an official poll.

But drivers from both ends of the grid are largely against the idea, which Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff believes would reduce F1 to a “show” similar to WWE.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix at Sochi – a circuit which was initially earmarked as a potential trial venue for the reverse-grid proposal - Red Bull’s Max Verstappen stressed it goes against the DNA and competitive nature of F1.

“I don’t like it,” Verstappen said. “It’s just artificial and trying to create a show which I think it’s not what Formula 1 stands for.

It’s just not my thing.

“The fastest car should be in the front. That's what everyone works for so why would you try and manipulate the show? And at the end of the day cars will probably end up in the same position anyway.

“It’s not what Formula 1 is all about it. It needs to be about pure performance, that’s what you work for. You want to be the most dominant and competitive team out there and you want to start on the first row.”

Teammate Alex Albon echoed Verstappen’s comments and feels that changing the order via artificial means would take away from what makes races like the one seen at Monza so special.

“Races like Monza don’t happen often and it takes quite a lot of circumstances for things like that happen, but that’s what makes those races so special,” Albon added.

“It would not be any more special if a car that’s not supposed to be there is there, and it might take that part away from it. I am happy with how it is.

“I think we have good racing but at the end of the day I am not too fussed about it.”

Meanwhile, Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo fears that the reverse-grid direction could end up diminishing the achievement of a race win.

“Personally my fear with going down this direction is like you see in the last few races we have had some red flags and it has mixed up the field at times and that is been really exciting - but that is also been organic,” he explained.

“There have been incidents in the race and that was the outcome of the situation. I am worried if we added in an artificial way and mix up the field, and every driver is then getting an F1 win, does the value of an F1 win hold what it does today?

“That is where it is going to be that fine line and that balance. That is my reservation with the first thought of it.

“It is tough because we want more exciting races, but it is still F1 and I think everyone holding the big trophy, it should hold a certain level of value. And maybe that would be diminished somewhat with a reverse grid.”

Romain Grosjean would currently start from pole position under the arrangement due to being last in the championship, but the Haas driver had few good words to say about reverse-grid races.

“Even though I would start on pole I still don’t like it,” he said.

“I think the midfield battle, once you remove the Mercedes and Max Verstappen battle is going on absolutely flat out and it’s mega.

“The solution for me is somewhere else and we need to find a solution where the cars are more together in terms of performance.

“To me it’s more that we need to bring the field closer together more than trying the reverse grid and things like that. It doesn’t feel what I’ve been growing up with and what I’d like to see in F1.”

Having previously been against the idea altogether, saying that he would be made to look “stupid” in reverse-grid races, George Russell admitted he now has “very mixed views” after learning about the full proposal.

“I have very mixed views,” Russell, who would be another beneficiary of the plan, said.

“I’m happy to try things. We have to try things, you live, you learn if you try things and it could be exciting. It might be a bit of a joke.

“You can’t knock it until you’ve tried it. It could be exciting and people, and live sports have to evolve. But qualifying for me is the most exciting part of the weekend.

“The car is absolutely on the limit and you’re driving around the best tracks in the world and the fastest cars in the world, and I do not want to miss that because it is just pure enjoyment from the driver seat.

“I would not want to see it every single weekend, but maybe a couple of races it could be good to see.”

AlphaTauri duo Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat are not fans either, with Kvyat arguing the idea is simply a “band aid for a more global problem” of the performance disparity that currently exists between the top teams and the rest of the grid.

“Of course, reverse-grids could create potentially a bit more spectacle on the short term,” Kvyat said.

“But it's more of a band aid for a more global problem, that at the moment there is a couple of teams dominating, you know, and even if I think Mercedes will start from P8 or P10 – like if we adopt Formula 2 system – they will be P1 and P2 within 10 laps again.

“So, it will not really change a lot in that regard. It might create more confusion.

“I think it would be more exciting if we just bring performance of all teams closer, even within one second region would be the perfect, you know, like we see often in MotoGP. It's very unpredictable who might win, who might not win and so on.”

Despite claiming a shock win at Monza and heading a diverse podium featuring an AlphaTauri, McLaren and a Racing Point, Gasly echoed a number of his fellow drivers comments in saying that F1 instead needs to focus on working to bring the field together.

“I'm not a big fan of this reverse-grid [idea],” Gasly said. “I think the main thing is trying to get the cars in a much closer performance window, all together.

“If we had cars all within five or six tenths, I think already you could see a lot better racing. Because the racing in the midfield, I mean, it's quite exciting, to see the battle between the Renault, the Racing Point, McLaren, us, Alfas. You know, it's quite exciting.

“The only problem is we can't keep up with the Red Bulls, we can't keep up with the Mercedes, and they are the podium contenders.

“It’s difficult to say if it will be good. Maybe it's worth trying. But I think the priority is really trying to make sure that all teams are within a certain window of performance.”

 

Comments

Loading Comments...