There has been plenty of talk in the past few weeks around the idea of Formula 1 staging reverse grid races, based on the drivers championship standings heading into the event. This conversation was initially started once it was agreed that both the Red Bull Ring and Silverstone would host back to back events to kick off the 2020 season, with F1 chiefs suggesting the second weekend could feature a reverse grid format
It didn’t take long for Mercedes to veto the idea, with Toto Wolff speaking out after his team rejected the proposal and pushed the decision back into 2021. In doing so, Wolff has made some very valid points, highlighting that F1 is a meritocracy and teams shouldn’t be rewarded for underperforming. Alongside this, he also stressed that the integrity of the championship shouldn’t be undermined in an effort to provide a spectacle. A number of fans stand against this point of view, hoping that the reverse grids would provided a higher entertainment value and bring more eyes to the sport.
Would a reverse grid race work?
Another key issue with reverse grid races and the current state of Formula 1, is something we have seen in spots through the past two or three seasons. Whenever a Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull car start a race at the back of the grid, it doesn’t take long at all for them to scythe through the field and develop a lead over the teams lower in the pack.
Realistically, these reverse grid races would work in an almost identical fashion. The top cars would start at the back of the grid, but by the first round of pit stops we would most likely be seeing the same top six that we’re always used to. The only exception for this would be if the cars were taken out of the race by the drivers ahead of them – which would only lead to controversy.
It’s certainly an issue that may be mitigated in the future as the sport looks to introduce cost caps and fixed parts in a bid to level the playing field slightly, however we would need proof of concept for this before it would be worth thinking about introducing the reverse grid races. On the flip side of this, if the teams are all closer together in performance, is it then worth having a reverse grid? With the theory being that there should be multiple teams challenging at the top end of the pack with very few, if any, stragglers falling behind.
Continuing to look for new ideas
One positive that can be taken from this situation is that we can see F1 and Liberty Media are still looking for ways to improve the sport. Since they took over from Bernie Ecclestone it is something we have seen on a regular basis and as a fan of the sport I’m more than happy to see three or four ideas pitched that never make it into the sport if it means we get one or two more ideas that do make the cut.