Toto Wolff has reiterated the opposition Mercedes has to the idea of reverse grid qualifying races in Formula 1, explaining why his team blocked the proposal.
F1 is keen to experiment with the race weekend format to provide more racing entertainment for fans, and tabled the idea of replacing qualifying with a sprint race where drivers start in reverse championship order. The results of that race would then form the grid for the main grand prix when points would be handed out, but Wolff says Mercedes is firmly opposed to the idea.
“First of all, there seems to be a common pattern in Formula 1, digging out old ideas that have been analyzed thoroughly and rejected and then somebody thinks it’s great and it’s back on the agenda,” Wolff said.
“You need to look at the reasons why we were against it and there are three fundamental reasons: I believe Formula 1 is a meritocracy — the best man in the best machine wins; we don’t need a gimmick to turn the field around and create more exciting racing.
“Number two, I know from touring car racing that strategies become a very useful tool when one race result is basically making up the grid for the next one. Just imagine one of the drivers not running well on the Sunday race of the first Spielberg weekend, you decide to DNF the car and that becomes the car that starts on pole for the qualifying race on the second weekend. And if that car starts on pole for the qualifying race, among midfielders, then he’ll certainly be on pole for Sunday and win the race.
“There will be cars in the middle that will defend and block as much as they can and, therefore, for the cars coming from behind, there will be more risk for a DNF and that could influence the championship. And then, from a pure performance standpoint, whoever has the faster car, not necessarily us, will be penalized towards the second- and third-quickest teams, because they will simply start in front. And, as we know, the margins are not very large, so, therefore, it’s a bit of an opportunistic move to give some teams an advantage.
“So, yes, it was us; we said this is not the time to experiment with things that, interestingly, didn’t even have the support of the Formula 1 fans’ community, because in a survey only 15 percent expressed an interest in reverse grids.”