F1 considers 2021 Saturday sprint races, reverse grids ruled out

Formula 1 is considering trials of a Saturday sprint race format in 2021, with the sport’s CEO Stefano Domenicali revealing plans for reverse grid qualifying events have been shelved completely.

F1 considers 2021 Saturday sprint races, reverse grids ruled out

Last year, F1 discussed the possibility of experimenting with some reverse grid races on a Saturday in a bid to spice up the show at certain venues.

But the plans failed to get the full support of teams, with Mercedes in particular vehemently against the proposal that would have left drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas battling from the back.

While it had been expected that a fresh vote would be put to teams this year with a new governance structure meaning that unanimous support was no longer required, that plan is now off the table. Domenicali has confirmed that while F1 needs to be open to fresh ideas to keep fans engaged, he is clear that reverse grids are no longer an option.

Asked by Motorsport.com about his views on the topic during an interview with selected media on Thursday, Domenicali said: “Reverse grid is over. That’s something I can tell you.

“It’s important to think maybe of new ideas to be more attractive or interesting, but we don’t have to lose the traditional approach of racing.

“I think that what we learned when we were changing the qualifying every two days was something that has burned our fingers. So we need to avoid that, and therefore now I think that the format is quite stable.”

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While ruling out any possibility for reverse grid races, Domenicali said that F1 was weighing up trying out a Saturday sprint race format to see if it could work.

“What we’re looking at is what could be the approach of the so-called sprint race on a Saturday,” he explained. “We are thinking if this could be tested already this year. There are discussions going on with the teams in the right forum, and I think that maybe this could be the only one thing that could be interesting.”

Domenicali also suggests that F1 should try to think up some format that better showcases new drivers, who are left without much opportunity for running with testing so limited.

“We need to give attention once again to the rookies, the real rookies,” he said. “Today, with the fact that we have less testing, we need to create [chances for running] not only in the free practice, as already is written into the regulations.

“Maybe we can create good events, highlighting the fact that we need to focus the attention on the rookies. We have a very good number of young drivers that are already in Formula 1, but we cannot stop that flow going on.”

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Author Jonathan Noble
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