F1 2020: Reverse-grid qualifying races unlikely as Red Bull say Mercedes are opposed to 'variable'
Red Bull were pushing for reverse-grid sprint race in place of qualifying at tracks which are hosting two races this season; But Horner tells the F1 Show that Mercedes weren't supportive of idea
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 24/06/20 2:59pm
A proposal to introduce reverse-grid races when Formula 1 returns next month is unlikely to be accepted due to opposition from Mercedes - with Red Bull boss Christian Horner telling Sky Sports that Toto Wolff believes it "would interfere with Lewis Hamilton's championship campaign".
There has been a fresh push for an experimental sprint race - where the leader of the championship would start at the back - to replace qualifying and determine Sunday's grid order at tracks which are due to host two races this year to create more unpredictability for the second event.
Austria and Silverstone are both set for back-to-back F1 weekends this summer, with Spielberg kicking off the campaign in early July.
But while Horner says the idea, which was put to the 10 teams during a meeting with rights holders Liberty Media and the governing FIA on Friday, got "overwhelming support" - he claims world champions Mercedes and their boss Wolff were unconvinced as it was "too much of a variable".
"I think we've got a unique situation this year, and having two races at the same venue - it would seem the perfect time to try something different at that second event," the Red Bull team principal told the F1 Show.
"Otherwise, with stable weather conditions, we're likely to have the same output in race two as we have in race one.
"[The proposal] seemed to get overwhelming support. The only person that wasn't particularly supportive of it was Toto because he thought it would interfere with Lewis' seventh world championship campaign, and it would be too much of a variable."
Mercedes, however, have told Sky Sports that their reasons are vetoing the proposals are long-held, and that "we don't believe F1 needs gimmicks to make it attractive. We believe in the sport to deliver excitement."
The Silver Arrows have sealed six consecutive clean sweeps of F1's championships, while Hamilton will be aiming for a record-equalling seventh title this season.
The prospect of experimenting with reverse-grid races to replace qualifying were raised last year, but were shot down by two teams - one being Mercedes. Hamilton said then that "people who propose that don't really know what they're talking about" while four-time champion Sebastian Vettel described the idea as "bull****".
There needs to be unanimity from all 10 teams for the proposal to pass for 2020.
"It's the same for everybody," added Horner. "Having races being at the same venue for two consecutive weekends would be a logical and timely place to introduce and try something."
The season is set to start in Austria on July 5.
How would a reverse-grid qualifying race work?
The idea would see qualifying replaced by a 30-minute race on the second Saturday, with the starting order based on reverse championship position. The driver leading the standings would line up at the back of the grid, with whoever was at the bottom on pole.
For example: If it went ahead in Austria, a driver could retire from the first race early on and line up on pole in the qualifying sprint race the next week. At later events, a more representative championship order will have emerged.
This non-points scoring sprint race would determine the grid for Sunday.
Horner was adamant: "I think the prospect of drivers having to race through the field on the Sunday for the feature race, having to start from the back of the grid based on championship position, I think would be something really entertaining for the fans, something positive for Formula 1 and something we really shouldn't be afraid of trying."
But while Horner says he still hopes Wolff and Mercedes will change their mind, the usual qualifying format now looks likely to be used at all races this year.