F1 set to revisit reverse grid sprint race plan

AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly scored a shock victory after Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton received a penalty and the other usual front-runners hit trouble.

Gasly was joined on the podium by McLaren’s Carlos Sainz and Racing Point’s Lance Stroll, marking the first race since Hungary 2012 where no drivers from Mercedes, Red Bull or Ferrari finished in the top three.

Hamilton fought back from running 30 seconds off the pack to finish the race seventh, rising back up through the order after a stop/go penalty ended his win hopes.

The exciting race and surprise front-runners reignited the debate about using reverse grid sprint race formats in F1 in the future.

The idea was proposed as an alternative to qualifying at select races in 2020, only for Mercedes to block the move as it required unanimous approval.

Writing in his post-race column, F1 managing director of motorsports Ross Brawn said that Monza was planned as a race where a reverse grid sprint race would have replaced qualifying in 2020.

He said that Sunday’s race proved the kind of excitement a mixed-up order could offer, and that it was the perfect opportunity to revisit the proposal for the future.

“Monza was a candidate for a reverse grid sprint race when we were considering testing the format this year,” Brawn said.

“Unfortunately, we could not move forward with it, but the concept is still something we and the FIA want to work through in the coming months and discuss with the teams for next year.

“We believe that yesterday’s race showed the excitement a mixed-up pack can deliver and with next year’s cars remaining the same as this year – our fans could be treated to the similar drama we saw this weekend at Monza.

“Of course, with a reverse grid sprint race, teams will set their cars up differently. Right now, Mercedes set their cars up to achieve the fastest lap and then to control the race from the front.

“If they know they have to overtake, they will have to change that approach.

“We will continue to evaluate new formats with the aim of improving the show but always maintaining the DNA of Formula 1.”

It is understood that talks over race formats for 2021 are set to ramp up between F1, the FIA and teams in the coming weeks, during which the reverse grid sprint races will be revisited.

But unlike talks for 2020, where the move required unanimity, the altered governance structure under the new Concorde Agreement for 2021 means that only a ‘super majority’ is required to push through the move.

A super majority is reached with 28 votes. Both the FIA and F1 hold 10 votes, with the 10 teams then each holding a single vote.

It means that the idea could be approved for 2021 even with two teams rejecting the move.

Related video