With the start of the Formula 1 season on the horizon, the FIA and Liberty Media have thrown around the idea of having reverse-grid qualifying races when the season resumes. However, Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team are opposed to this and unless they change their mind, this experiment may not come to fruition.
The new format is coming under consideration to add intrigue to the second weekend of double header races at some circuits. Only two of these races are officially planned, the first at the Red Bull Ring in Austria on 05 and 12 July and the second at Silverstone in England for fourth and fifth rounds, separated by a single race at the Hungaroring. However, there could potentially be more if some events still can’t take place due to COVID-19.
In summary, the idea is that a 30 minute qualifying race would replace traditional qualifying on the second race weekend, the starting grid for that race would be decided by the driver’s world championship order.
After the race, the cars would be kept in parc ferme, and the rest of the weekend would run as usual with the three free practice sessions. Grid penalties would be applied to the main race on Sunday.
Unanimity is the key for this proposal to be implemented however, and during a meeting discussing the proposal last Friday, Mercedes stood firm on the disapproval of the idea, while it was believed that many teams on the grid, including Scuderia Ferrari, were in favor of it. It was also reported that a few teams needed more time to consider it, per Motorsport.com.
Despite the FIA’s introduction of a new “60% Rule” to see that major rule changes go through during the pandemic with up to four teams being opposed for it to still pass, this new reverse grid qualifying is not seen as a major rule change, so a unanimous decision is needed.
It is understood that Mercedes oppose this as they believe that they are the pace setters at the front of the grid, and they have already taken a bit of a handicap with the new aero R&D rules, as well as the cost cap to come in upcoming seasons.
If this proposal does want a chance however, a decision is required early this week. A meeting with F1’s sporting working group is slated for Wednesday, 03 June, and if approved the finer details of the plan could be discussed here by team managers.
There is no word on if Mercedes has changed their position since the initial meeting.