The concept of reverse grid qualifying races to decide the grid for the full-length grand prix is being seriously considered by Formula 1 for when racing resumes, but faces stiff opposition.
Liberty Media, the teams and the FIA have discussed the idea of using the doubleheader races planned for Austria and Silverstone to try a reverse grid sprint race that would replace qualifying for one of the two events held at the same circuit.
The concept — previously raised by Ross Brawn as something that could be tested in non-championship races — would see drivers line up in reverse championship order, with the finishing positions after a short race deciding the grid for Sunday’s grand prix. For the other race at the same circuit, the usual three-part qualifying session would be used to decide the grid.
The proposal failed to gain approval for 2020 after a vote late last year as two teams voted against it, but has surfaced again as the fact F1 plans on hosting more than one race at the same circuit would allow for a direct comparison to see the impact on racing.
However, such a change to the regulations would again require unanimous approval from the 10 teams as it impacts on this season, and Mercedes is understood to be firmly against the idea, with other teams also holding some reservations.
As well as the ongoing argument that such a handicapping system is against F1’s DNA, there are concerns about the financial implications at a time when F1 has been frantically trying to reduce costs, with the heightened risk of damage in a race made up of a full field of cars in reverse pace order compared to normal qualifying.
The FIA recently introduced a safeguard clause into the International Sporting Code that states changes to regulations can be made with just the agreement of the majority of entrants “in exceptional circumstances” due to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, but it is not believed the opposition to such a sporting change is deemed significant enough to warrant invoking this clause.