Formula 1 will discuss new proposals with the FIA to change the race weekend format for back-to-back events at the same venue in Austria and Silverstone.
The idea of reverse grid qualifying races was tabled to add variety at the two circuits where consecutive races will be held when racing resumes in July, but the proposal has been blocked by Mercedes and needs unanimity to be approved. Formula 1 managing director of motorsports Ross Brawn admits reverse grids look unlikely but the sport will still look to make tweaks to the second race.
“It can’t happen, unless we have unanimity — which it doesn’t sound like we’re going to have,” Brawn told RACER. “But we are still looking at what we can do for that second race to perhaps put a slightly different complexion on it, so that we can encourage people to run on Friday and we can maybe add a slightly different flavor, again, keeping the integrity of the sport.
“So perhaps what compounds people are allowed to use, or have some nuance that second race that we can just add a little bit of element that the fans could engage in and find interesting without making it gimmicky.
“We’ve got a discussion this week with the FIA. Now we’ve had the sort of prime idea rejected then we’ve got (another proposal) and we will have to take it to the teams and the teams will have to agree.”
While Brawn says F1 is not willing to publicly discuss all of the options yet, he did feel the reverse grid qualifying race would gain more support given the unusual circumstances of the 2020 season. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says his team opposed it because F1 should be a meritocracy and the idea was a gimmick to try and give other teams an advantage.
“I was (confident) because we’re in different circumstances — we’re going to have two races at the same track for these two occasions and maybe even later in the year. So it did seem an ideal opportunity. It is novel, and I accept that when you when you do these things, you’ve got to be careful not to damage the integrity of Formula 1; but for me, it was still a strong competition.
“I didn’t get the meritocracy bit, because in starting the qualifying race on a Saturday with a reverse grid, depending on how the championship was going, you would have the guy who is leading the championship at the back, the guy who is second in the championship next to him and the guys who is third in the championship just in front of him.
“And therefore, you’ve got a tremendous battle within the championship contenders but a different challenge. The challenge is not to… well, maybe they can win that race, but the challenge is to fight your way through the field. And my comment on this was not only do we want to know who’s the fastest racing driver, we want to know who’s the best racer, and for me that would reveal it pretty quickly. We may have our views but there will be a demonstration.
“So if there was a randomness about the process — pick out of a hat, where are you going to go on the grid — I can see why people would see that as a gimmick. There was no randomness to this, this was the best guys collectively are going to be at the back of the grid and they have to fight their way through in the qualifying race, half an hour of a hammer-and-tong battle on a Saturday afternoon. You probably make some judgments on how hard you want to go on a Saturday afternoon to where you want to get on a Sunday, I understand that, but I didn’t see it as a gimmick.”
Listen to the full interview here: