File picture: Daniel Dal Zennaro/ANSA Via AP.

Singapore - Lewis Hamilton led criticism, over the weekend, of plans to rip up the traditional qualifying format for a new reverse-grid race.

The overhaul is being considered by the sport’s owner Liberty for next season.

They are proposing replacing tried-and-tested qualifying with a sprint race on the Saturday, which would start with the drivers’ championship standings reversed: the leader would line up last on the grid and the 20th-ranked driver first.

The order for the grand prix would then be determined by the result of that mini-race. The idea, dreamed up by Liberty’s technical director Ross Brawn, is being discussed with the teams and could be introduced on a trial basis for 2020.

But several of the leading drivers were outraged by the thought.

Hamilton said with a sigh: "I don’t know what to say. The people who proposed that don’t really know what they are talking about."

Sebastian Vettel said: "It’s complete bull****. I don’t know which genius came up with that. It is not the solution. It is completely the wrong idea. If we want to improve things it’s clear we need to string the field more closely together. We need to have better racing."

In fairness to Brawn, he has been tasked with enlivening the show. His idea would certainly do that but at what price to the sanctity of the world championship? By what logic should the No 1 driver be disadvantaged by being handicapped?

Brawn, the much respected engineer behind Michael Schumacher and Jenson Button’s world championship successes, said: "I would like to see us try a few things in 2020.

"We have a stable platform with the cars and things aren’t changing that much. It could be a good time to try some variations."

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