Verstappen: “Artificial” reverse-grid qualifying plan isn’t what F1 is about

2020 Russian Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen dismissed F1’s plan to introduce reverse-grid qualifying races next year as an “artificial” attempt to “manipulate the show”.

The proposal, which is supported by F1 managing director Ross Brawn, would see qualifying sessions replaced with sprint races at a limited number of rounds. These races would begin with drivers in reverse championship order, and the result would set the grid for the following day’s grand prix.

Verstappen made his feelings about the plan clear in yesterday’s FIA press conference. “I don’t like it,” said the Red Bull driver.

“It’s just artificial and trying to create a show, which I think it’s not what Formula 1 stands for. It’s just not my thing.”

The proposal would undermine the philosophy of Formula 1 racing, Verstappen believes. “The fastest car should be in the front,” he said. “That’s what everyone works for.

“So why would you try and manipulate the show? And at the end of day, probably cars will end up in the same position anyway.

“It’s just not what Formula 1 is about. It needs to be about pure performance. That’s what you work for, you want to be the most dominant and competitive team out there, you want to start on the first row. So I don’t like it.”

Verstappen’s team mate Alexander Albon warned the reverse-grid races will make true surprise results such as this year’s Italian Grand Prix less novel and exciting.

“What makes racing so special as well is that races like Monza don’t happen often and it takes quite a lot of circumstances for things like that to happen. But that’s what makes them races so special. It will not be special any more if a car that’s not supposed to be there is. It might take that part away from it.

“So I’m happy with how it is. I think we’ve got good racing. At the end of day, I’m also not too fussed about it.”

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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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10 comments on “Verstappen: “Artificial” reverse-grid qualifying plan isn’t what F1 is about”

  1. At the end of the day if push comes to shove, Liberty would rather replace 10-20 employees than pack up and shut down the whole business.
    Good luck to the drivers & their careers, if F1 owners decide to go ahead with reverse order races as acceptable gimmicks for entertainment.

  2. Everyone’s still talking about reverse grid races? They’ll never happen…ever.

  3. There will always be people who want reverse grid races. For me variety is better less boring. The whole DNA of F1 is change. F1 is constantly evolving and changing. Having a few reverse races is not going to kill F1, probably the opposite effect.

  4. Basically DRS for grids.

  5. Well of course, traditional old git fans like myself, shudder at the thought of reverse grids in F1. They are the very life of full contact races on the oval dirt and shale tracks, the UK Stock Cars of various formulae ie those with RSJs welded all round, and the banger races too.
    They are ok in the BTCC where contact is officially not allowed though a nudge or rub is oft seen. You cannot do that in F1 with the highest power and open wheel configuration.

    However as Max says its Liberty trying to create a show, it goes against F1 racing ideology. But, Liberty are in the business of selling the show, not the race they are media people, marketing people, money people. Whilst thankfully we have Ross holding off the cheerleaders and rockets, but he is wavering. We must recognise that F1 is a commodity to Liberty, something to be exploited, from which to make money. Ok we will also have Stefano next year, another good thing for the sport as opposed to the business.

    But we have to see that today’s ever increasing restrictions, are clamping innovation down to almost nothing, the scope for development is less and less, the cost cap will further reduce the ability to bring new ideas to fruition. Thus we edge gradually towards spec racing. A1GP was, well, virtually invisible, is that how we want F1 to end up?

    With a media company as its owner (Well owner of the commercial rights lease, the FIA seems to have given up reminding us that they are actually the owner of the formula) they depend upon selling the product, so expect further attempted Americanisation, which I fear may make Stefano uncomfortable, as he will be its corporate face. (Ross has obviously seen the light, been commercialised, been shown the money, or seen the writing on the wall and it ain’t a Banksy!)
    Covid has exacerbated and accelerated the need for F1 to pull in more turnover, so the pressure to change from racing to showbiz must be increasing daily in the offices of Liberty and their owners.

    We have moved on from Bernie’s unsustainable business model to one which is reliant upon the American business model, which is far more demanding. (Looking back now you can see what a genius Bernie was, he milked F1 for every penny, loaded it with debt guaranteed his own income, no matter what, even if not a single race was run! Then when it was about to collapse, sold it for a fortune counting the debt as an asset!) While Liberty are somewhat more conventional in their operation of F1 they are ultimately beholden to shareholders and market rules. Profit and pressure will rule in the end so we may well end up with reverse grids. (At least util the carnage and horror bring them to an end.)

  6. I would raise my voice against every new artificalities in place of these drivers. They are doing well to bring spotlight on things like that. I would do so if I were them, because basically they are all considerable stars, and they will have influence. I would not say that a driver is always informed with the big picture of all planned changes, but obviously most of the time they know very well if something would not go well with a top open wheeler championship’s DNA.

    Actually this reverse grid stuff would give some advantage in the teammate battles to the acually lower ranked one (I mean at points standings at a particular season), that’s another not so desirable effect.

    And as the reverse grid race not awards points, but functions only as a qualifying race, it is not really rewarding to fight for every position, as the real fight will take place at the standard race. And as it’s functions as equaling and narrowing the competition a bit it tastes a bit like a BOP which takes into account even the individual performance, but without a real chance for any of the competitors beating the Mercedes drivers for a WDC title at this or next season (if nothing else changes). And if someone will manage to beat the better team by a small margin for a title, then that will again taste artifical in the close future :(

    Imo as it not awards points it’s even worse than having a sprint race with reverse grid for championship points. As many said reverse grid races going much better with touring cars and feeder series, but not with an open wheeler DNA, as at open wheelers any kinds of contacts are unacceptable and dangerous, therefore it will bring less dogfight (neither there is a necessity to give opportunity to young talents to show themselves, despite of doing so is good and accaptable at development series.)

    1. Additionally at series which had a BOP in recent year organizers had to cope with a lot of problems, as many competitors took the BOP changes as an insult, and they had to refine the BOP decisions at mid season, (even in the middle of a race weekend) due to protests and so on. There were examples of it at WTCR prev year, and many of the fans had difficulties to accept it too. Or maybe BOP contributed to some competitors quite sudden quitting at the end of some seasons. BOP is a bit against merit, and engineering excellence, so it’s a bit hard to accept for many.

      And imo as if for example Verstappen would manage to take the championship lead at a season in the close future at similar power rankings to the current one, then reverse grid races would start to help Mercedes again, and then it would start over, the the system rebalances itself, just like a BOP. So no real effect in rankings, it just closes the gaps.

  7. … which had a BOP in recent years … (instead of singular)

  8. Artificial reverse grid qualifying will bring F1 into disrepute!

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