No reverse grids but F1 still open to new formats

Formula 1

Formula One has confirmed it will not go ahead with plans to include reverse-grid qualifying races at select grands prix this year, but says it is still open to experimentation with weekend formats.

F1’s newly-released European schedule features consecutive races at the same circuit in Austria and Great Britain and the sport had proposed mixing up the show at the second race at each of those venues in order to keep viewers entertained.

The proposed idea sought to replace the usual qualifying format with a 30-minute race to decide the grid for Sunday’s grand prix, with the starting order of the qualifying race on Saturday being dictated by reverse championship order. No points would be given out for the qualifying race, but in theory it would see the fastest cars make their way through the field in order to gain a good starting position for the grand prix.

The idea gained support among the majority of teams but was opposed from the off by world champions Mercedes. Without unanimous support from the teams such changes cannot be made to this year’s regulations, but F1 CEO Chase Carey said the sport was still open to experimenting with different ideas.

“We’ve had discussions in the past couple of years about should we look at ways to make some changes that honour the sport, respect what has made the sport great but we think would be changes that would enhance the experience for fans,” Carey told F1’s official website.

“We’ve talked about a couple in the coronavirus context of these two races [the Austria and Great Britain double headers]. At this point we’ve had one that’s been publicised about a reverse grid that not all teams were comfortable with and making changes in this short timeframe requires unanimity of support.”

Carey said F1 is wary of introducing “gimmicks”, but that he wouldn’t automatically rule out changes in the future.

“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.

“To some degree, 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. But I think we’ll continue [talks] but it won’t be unique to this. I think we always want to be challenging ourselves and [looking at whether] there other things we can do to make the sport better.”

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