‘Reverse grid’ sprints still possible for 2024

Wed, 6 December 2023, 08:00

Dec.6 (GMM) Formula 1 is still pondering whether to add a sensational ‘reverse grid’ feature to the tweaked sprint weekend format in 2024.

The sport has now announced the six grand prix venues where sprint races will be held next year – including sprint newcomers Shanghai and Miami.

The format has proved controversial, but Liberty Media-owned F1 cited Nielsen research showing that television audiences for Friday qualifying sessions in particular were up by as much as 140 percent compared to pre-sprint events.

At a recent F1 Commission meeting, it was agreed that the format should be tweaked for 2024 – such as by sequencing the various sessions more logically.

Auto Motor und Sport, however, claims that tweaks to the way parc ferme restrictions apply on the sprint weekends are yet to be agreed by all stakeholders.

The F1 Commission will consider further potential changes to the sprint format at its next meeting in January, with a reverse grid proposal not yet ruled out.

“We must continuously develop and adapt to ensure we are doing what is best for the sport, and as such we are working with FOM and the teams to define the future direction of the sprint format,” admitted FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

One issue for the reverse grid sprint, however, is that drivers may be disincentivised from pushing for top performance in the ‘sprint shootout’ qualifying session.

To address that, the awarding of points for top qualifying positions is one proposed solution, correspondent Tobias Gruner reports.

“There is still resistance to this, especially from within the teams,” he said, adding that the “radical” reverse grid feature is therefore unlikely in 2024.

One such opposing voice to the reverse grid idea is Mercedes driver George Russell, who also doubles as a top director at the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association.

“I don’t speak for the drivers,” he said, “but my personal opinion is that I don’t think reverse grid races will work.

“What would probably happen is a DRS train,” Russell added. “Because you might have a Williams leading from a Haas who he can’t quite get past, who is leading from an Alpine who is leading from a McLaren and so on.

“The concept doesn’t work.”

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