George Russell has criticised Formula 1’s plan to introduce reverse-grid races in the future, saying the proposal would make drivers “look a little bit stupid”.

F1’s motorsport director Ross Brawn argued that Pierre Gasly’s shock victory for AlphaTauri and a mixed up podium at the Italian Grand Prix strengthened the case for introducing reverse-grid sprint races as a replacement for qualifying at some rounds.

Brawn had been behind the initial idea that was blocked by teams originally in 2019 and again earlier this year, with the former F1 team boss determined to push through the plan for 2021.

F1 has polled fans asking whether it should replace qualifying sessions with reverse championship order sprint races at four rounds of the 2021 season.

But a number of drivers are against the idea, including Russell, who feels drivers towards the front of the reverse grid would get “eaten alive” due to the performance disparity between the teams.

“I am against it to be honest because the fact is we are in the slowest car on the grid, or one of the slowest cars on the grid, and we would just sort of get eaten alive,” Russell said.

“We would be defending like crazy to try hold off the faster cars that were behind us. But, as drivers, you would be made to look a little bit stupid because ultimately you are battling against guys who are in cars much quicker than yours who can break 10 metres later it into the corner, who can lunge you from really far back.

“If I was in one of the top cars, I’d actually really, really want it because it would make those drivers look like heroes, lunging drivers from miles back purely because they are in a superior car.

“So I have mixed views,” he added. “Obviously I know we would probably get some points or get a good result at some point with a reverse grid.

“But for image, not just me and Nicholas, but the Haas guys and the Alfa guys, it is just impossible racing cars that are so much faster than yours. So that is where I stand.”

His Williams teammate Nicholas Latifi is also skeptical of the proposal which he said “takes away from the DNA” of F1. The Canadian also reckons results would become “diluted” if a mixed up order occurred all the time.

“In a way it takes away from the DNA of how Formula 1 always is, and just racing in general, that you always have the fastest guy starting in front,” he said.

“The only way I would support it is if it was not the main race. Like in junior championships, in F2 and F3, you have the main feature race and then you have a sprint race.

“So if you are one of the guys in the reverse grid, it is more of a fun race for you to try and enjoy it. Obviously, you’re still trying to score points.

“Kind of like what George touched on, the race shaping up like it was in Monza does create a lot of excitement and gives a lot of opportunity to other people. And it is great for the fans.

“But at the same time if races like that are happening every race, then those kinds of results are going to be diluted with that mixed up order happening all the time.”

 

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