Formula 1’s proposal to introduce a shorter qualifying race at some events is likely to fall at the first hurdle with Mercedes opposed to the idea.

Championship bosses have long been considering ways to experiment with the current weekend format used in F1 and felt the back-to-back races in Austria and Silverstone this year would provide a good opportunity to do so.

F1 chiefs floated the idea of trialing a sprint-style qualifying race set by reverse championship order on the Saturday of the second weekend of double-header events to determine the grid for the main grand prix on Sunday to the teams during a teleconference call last Friday, but Mercedes refused to support the initiative.

Unanimity among all 10 teams is required for a change to the 2020 FIA sporting regulations but given Mercedes’ opposition - and with Racing Point also understood to be wanting more time to consider the idea - it is unlikely to progress beyond the first stage. 

Agreement between the teams would have led to further discussions in Wednesday’s scheduled FIA sporting working group meeting, before a final proposal would have then been tabled to the F1 Commission for an official vote.

But Mercedes has indicated to Crash.net that it unlikely to change its stance on the matter.

“We’re not in favour,” a Mercedes spokesperson said. “We believe in the sport to deliver exciting racing in its current form.”

It is understood that some F1 teams have already expressed concerns they could run out of spare parts when the season begins in the event of accident-damage during an unprecedented run of six races in seven weeks.

Reverse-grid races, with faster cars coming through the field having to navigate past slower cars, would only increase the potential for picking up damage. Such a scenario could lead to results being skewed by luck rather than skill. 

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said on Monday he believes that F1 will never have a better opportunity to experiment and try out new formats than in the early rounds of 2020.

But Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has underlined to fellow bosses that he will not support the idea, arguing reverse-grid races would not succeed in improving the quality of racing.

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown said he “understood” Mercedes’ position.

“They probably have the most to lose, if you like,” he explained. “It is pretty clear they still have the best car on the grid and so will probably be on pole position more often than not.

“So I understand from their point of view they are probably risking that pole position.”

Brown added: “It would certainly add some jeopardy and some excitement to the sport so I personally would be a fan of experimenting because we might find we go, you know what, this is actually a pretty good idea, let's pull this forward into future use."

 

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