F1 grid, Silverstone, 2019

Todt against ‘unnatural’ reverse grid races but will not block their introduction

2020 Tuscan Grand Prix Ferrari 1000

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FIA president Jean Todt said he is against the idea of reverse grid races but will not stand in the way of their introduction if they have sufficient support.

Following the Italian Grand Prix, Formula 1’s motorsport director Ross Brawn said he is keen to revive a plan to introduce reverse grid sprint races in place of qualifying sessions. The proposal has been raised twice in the past 12 months, but rejected both times as it failed to gain the unanimous support of teams.

“Honestly I don’t like that,” said Todt when the subject of reverse grids was raised at a conference involving select media including RaceFans at Mugello.

He said he is open to the idea of using a sprint race to decide the starting order for the grand prix. While he does not agree with having a reverse grid for the race, Todt said he would not attempt to stop it being introduced.

“If everybody is happy, is agreeing, I will not be the troublemaker,” he said. “I will support, I will give the chance.

“I must say I quite like the idea which was proposed, which was refused by one, to, due to the unprecedented situation, have instead of qualifying on Saturday, a race of half an hour, whatever is the order, and then to have that as the order of the next race. I think it would have been interesting to see. But a reverse grid, it’s not normal, it’s not natural.”

Partial reverse grids are already used for the Sunday morning races in Formula 2 and Formula 3, despite Todt’s distaste for them.

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“I don’t think it’s racing,” he said. “I have been, something you don’t know, a fighter, a big opponent of the reverse grid in Formula 3 and in Formula 2.

“Then it’s a second race, it’s on a Sunday, limited audience, I can understand the sponsors and all that. It’s only the first eight. But I don’t like it.”

Todt believes Formula 1 should consider adopting Formula E’s ‘Super Pole’ qualifying format, in which the final drivers run one-by-one.

“What I like is the Formula E qualifying. It’s a sport. The quickest start first, one lap, and the track is not as good as when the last will go.

“I would do that in Formula 1. It’s natural. But the problem in Formula 1 people to make something change is close to impossible.”

While the need for unanimous agreement has so far frustrated Brawn’s efforts to introduce reverse grid races, under the new Concorde Agreement the backing of all 10 teams will not be required.

“I think the new governance from next year on will allow a little more flexibility,” said Todt. “That’s why we wanted it. But to deal with the Formula 1 world, believe me, is very constraining, is very difficult.”

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2020 Tuscan Grand Prix Ferrari 1000

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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19 comments on “Todt against ‘unnatural’ reverse grid races but will not block their introduction”

  1. A race to determine the starting position will only wear out the technicians. But there are those kind of individuals despite witnessing the outright failure of their suggestion will stubbornly insist that it was the correct one.
    Welcome to the FIA.

  2. yeah let’s go and ruin the only thing that poses zero problems and is working flawlessly, providing sure spectacle every saturday.

  3. May be I am missing something… For reverse grid, Why won’t the fast cars run slower just to qualify ahead?

    They should give a target time for the lap. And order the grid based on whoever is closest to the target time (above or below doesn’t matter).

    1. IIRC, you start the quality race in reverse Championship order, then the place you finish is your starting position. So leading championahip team (Mercedes for example) will start at the back and will have to fight through, in which case whatever they finish in the Saturday quali race will be where they start in Sunday.

      There’s an incentive for the championship fighting team to do their best in qualifing races, in theory.

      1. That’s it @yaru. Hardly anybody seems to understand that if they do this for all the races it’s perfectly fair, not handicapping or any kind of gimmick, as it all balances out over the number of races, and the best racer will win at the end of the season.

        1. Of course it’s handicapping. Like do you not know what that word means? Handicapping is *literally* what reverse grids are.

        2. Of course its handicapping. Mercedes would have ro start every qualifying race last and would be lucky to get a top 10 position for the main races. Its ridiculous

        3. @Martin @Adam A handicap is a disadvantage, and this is not a disadvantage over the course of the season. If Mercedes failed to fight through the field, then they would start higher up the next round. Over the course of the season, the best cars and drivers will come out on top. The only difference to the competitive order is that this format emphasizes overtaking and running in traffic more than the current format.

          I think it’s gimmicky on an individual race level because it devalues the nature of a race win—there will be more of them that aren’t exactly earned, just as what we currently see in F2 and F3. But to @zann‘s point, over the course of a season, the law of averages would apply—just as it does in F2 and F3.

          1. There’s F2 and F3 and FE to watch for that stuff though. I even get it in F2 – give the smaller teams their five minutes of fame and see who are the best overtakers. Great.

            But please don’t devalue an F1 win. PPLLEEEAAASSSEE!

            Wait for 2022 and see what happens there before this BS.

  4. Mr Todt can simply own up to the fact that it’s an engineering championship and give more technical freedom in design regulations, along with letting the constructor’s bosses stand on the podium rather than the employee drivers.
    But that won’t happen since it would dehumanize the “sport” and be bad for marketing the money out of the masses.
    People have caught on in 21st century and the voices for entertainment or sport between drivers will only grow louder.
    There isn’t need for reverse grids if F1 can go back to the highest rated 2011-13 format with slight tweaks.


    Let’s add this idea to the long list of foolish performance starving rules.

  6. Why fix something that already works well? I thought Ross Brawn was smarter than this.

  7. Liberty’s Chief Executive Officer of Stubbornness will likely get his way.

    Can’t help but feel Brawn’s personal vendetta against Merc since getting forced out of the team, will have unintended consequences. As is always the way with F1’s political circus.

    Reverse grids is an idea better served Southern style in a Smashcar bbq pit.

  8. 1. So the 1st race (feature race) you get 1st. Still 25 points?
    2. Then reverse grid in 2nd race (sprint race). You finish 10th for 1 point.
    3. Lets say midfielder Ocon wins so 25 points.
    4. This will alter F1 overall : i. Points record ii. Win record
    5. Potentially more incidents like F2.

  9. Quali race, reverse grid.
    Points race, grid composed from 1st race results.

  10. This farcial idea of reverse grid is the worst ever idea in F1. Even Bernie proposing to install sprinkle systems on all tracks in F1 and simulate wet conditions at each race was a better but still farcial idea.

  11. Sounds like this reverse grid concept has enough potential to quickly ruin Formula One as we know it. I’m dumbfounded at the very idea. How stupid. Another brilliant solution to stop Mercedes. Why else?

  12. Todt believes Formula 1 should consider adopting Formula E’s ‘Super Pole’ qualifying format, in which the final drivers run one-by-one.

    I personally hate that system which is why I never bother watching Formula E qualifying.

    I just find the single car stuff so dull to watch regardless of if it’s the whole grid or just the top 10 or whatever. It just lacks tension & excitement on top of the unfairness of things like track evolution & changable weather affecting things.

    I like the build-up of the qualifying system we have now which is the same as when we had the old 1 hour sessions. You get to the end of each segment & the order changes a dozen times as each car crosses the line, I just love that tension & excitement you get at the end & that is always missing from the single car/lap formats for me.

    1. Well said @stefmeister, one car on track is easy for the TV crew, but it wasn’t good to watch last time they did it, and it still isn’t super in the FPs, even when there it is a clear improvement on no all cars waiting to get out!

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