F1 ditches reverse grid plan, but sprint races still under consideration
LONDON - Formula One has given up on the idea of holding reverse-grid races in place of qualifying at some grand prix weekends but is still considering a Saturday sprint format, according to new head Stefano Domenicali.
The concept previously suggested would have seen drivers line up in reverse championship order for a sprint race to decide the starting grid for Sunday's main event.
A revised format now under discussion would not feature the reverse-grid element that was opposed last year by teams including reigning champions Mercedes. "Reverse grid is over. That’s something I can tell you," Domenicali told reporters.
"What we are looking at...(is) what could be the approach of the so-called sprint race on Saturday. We are thinking if this could be tested already this year," he added.
"Discussions are going on with the teams in the right forum. I think that maybe this could be the only one thing that could be interesting."
The initial proposal was made last year because some circuits were hosting two races on successive weekends, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the risk of the second becoming a boring repeat of the first.
Unanimous support for such change is no longer required but Domenicali said there would be no attempt to force anything through.
The Italian, a former Ferrari team principal, added that the sport did not want to lose its traditions or go back to a period when qualifying formats were constantly changing and alienating fans.
Formula One's motorsport managing director Ross Brawn last month told the racefans.net website that he would like to see some weekends follow a different format to gauge responses without committing the whole championship to change.
"That would be a sensible way to move forward, and find new avenues that would appeal to the fans and, and perhaps appeal to new fans. We don’t want to alienate our existing fans," he explained. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)