Formula 1 doesn’t want any changes it makes to the sport’s format to be perceived as gimmicks, amid the discussion over reverse grid qualifying races.
The first eight races of 2020 have now been confirmed, with two events happening at each of the Red Bull Ring and Silverstone. F1 raised the concept of using a reverse grid qualifying race on one of the two races at the same venues in order to prevent boring second races and take advantage of the ability to do a direct comparison between that and the normal qualifying session.
Under this format, qualifying would be replaced by a short sprint race where the reverse championship order would be used to set the grid, and the final results of that race would then give the grid for the grand prix itself. The fastest cars would start from the back of the qualifying race and need to work their way to the front for the best Sunday starting position. However, that plan looks likely to be blocked as Mercedes, which is strongly opposed to the idea.
“We’ve had one (idea) that’s been publicized about a reverse grid that not all teams were comfortable with,” Formula 1 chairman and CEO Chase Carey (pictured at left, above, with Mercedes’ Toto Wolff) said. “Making changes in this short timeframe requires unanimity of support. We’re changing almost real time inside the season, but we’ll continue to look at ideas.
“We want to make sure they’re not gimmicks. It’s a great sport with great history, great heroes, great stars, incredibly talented drivers and other individuals so we want to respect everything to a degree — but we want to make sure that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t look at ways to make some changes.
“This season being unique gives a little bit more opportunity to try something that I don’t think we would do unless we thought it was a real possibility to add something to the race. I think we always want to be challenging ourselves and (looking at whether) there other things we can do to make the sport better.”
While that idea does not look like it will gain approval, Carey is still pleased with the progress F1 has made with aspects such as the budget cap, aerodynamic testing restrictions and an initial European season.
“It has been busy. I feel good about the headway we have made but there is still a work in progress. For the last couple of years, we have been quite clear that we have had broad-based goals, to make the competition better, improve the action and make a healthier business for everyone in it.
“What the COVID (pandemic) created was a sense of urgency. Crisis in many ways require a sense of urgency. The issues that arose with this timeframe gave us the impetus, it gave us the momentum to tackle things which would have probably been tackled in the ordinary course over a longer timeframe.
“It really shows the spirit of the sport, and the fact that it is a big family. Families squabble and families compete, that is certainly not unique to any family. In many ways you want that competition to exist; it’s the backbone of the sport but I think when things get tough — and clearly things are tough right now — they rose to the occasion.”