Daniel Ricciardo, Renault, Albert Park, 2020

Ricciardo joins critics of reverse-grid qualifying race scheme

2020 F1 season

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Another Formula 1 driver has criticised the proposed reverse-grid qualifying race scheme which the sport has twice tried to introduce in the past nine months.

The proposal, which was rejected for the second time last week, would see qualifying at some rounds replaced with a sprint race to decide the starting order for the grand prix. The sprint race would begin with the drivers in reverse championship order.

Daniel Ricciardo told the official F1 website he doesn’t think the change is necessary. “It’s not really the first on our priority list of things to change in the sport,” he said.

“I can see how some fans would be like ‘it would be great to have the fast guys try and come through the field’ and all that . So I see that point of view. But I don’t know I can see a lot of scenarios where it wouldn’t work and it would just make things a little messy.”

“I can see why [for] a ‘couch potato’ – as I am right now – it could be exciting,” he added. “But I think from a purist and a real racing point of view, I don’t think we need to go there just yet.”

Other drivers have criticised the proposal more strongly. Last year Sebastian Vettel described it as “complete bullshit”, while Lewis Hamilton said those pushing for its introduction “don’t really know what they’re talking about”.

Vettel and Hamilton’s team bosses have differing takes on the proposal. Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto told RaceFans last week the reverse-grid qualifying races would be good for “the show”. However Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, who was among those who blocked the introduction of the rules, criticised the proposal on multiple grounds and said the majority of fans do not want it.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 24 comments on “Ricciardo joins critics of reverse-grid qualifying race scheme”

    1. It’s a weird year anyway, if we’re going to try something let’s do it now, what harm can it do? When we go back to normal we can always switch it back afterwards. It’s a strange time and it seems like a good opportunity to do something different.

      I’m not necessarily pro the idea, but why not try it? My only concern is the ‘Albon parks his car at the first corner scenario to get pole’, which if you were trying to explain to a layman would make no sense, it’d be like watching a footballer trying purposely trip over his own foot straight after kick off.

      But there’s got to be a way around that happening.

      1. @bernasaurus

        When we go back to normal we can always switch it back afterwards.

        Problem is that I don’t trust that they would.

        If they were to trial it at 2-3 races this year & it does what I expect it to (Cause a bit of chaos & mix up the grid) then I expect they will deem it a success & try & push it through on a more permanent basis.

        I’ve never been more down on F1 than I am now & it’s got nothing to do with the actual on-track product & everything to do with my disdain for a lot of the things I see as gimmicks, A general concern over the direction it’s going & a lack of trust in Liberty.

        1. @stefmeister that does seem to be at the root of things, with a number of people feeling that Liberty may be using the current situation to lobby for changes that would be rejected under normal circumstances, but that they might be able to slip through now under reduced scrutiny.

          The voting structure helps Liberty Media in that respect, as changing that part of the sporting regulations requires a unanimous vote. Once they’ve got the rule in place, it can only be changed if they agree to removing it – and given their past support for reverse races or qualifying races, it seems that quite a lot of people don’t think they would agree to remove such a rule once it has been passed.

          1. Anon given that Liberty has brought the teams in for their say all along as to negotiating and agreeing on F1’s new direction, including things like reverse grids, which have been rejected, I really fail to get any sense that they are all about trying to slip things through under circumstances of reduced scrutiny, nor do I see why people would have such a paranoia.

            Sure if changing a rule requires unanimous support isn’t it a rule that required unanimous support to begin with? You’re claiming once they have a rule in place it would require unanimous support to get rid of it. Ok. In the case of reverse grids they haven’t gotten unanimous support, so they will not be doing reverse grids. I’m not sure I can see where the reverse grid concept will be introduced anyway, let alone be in place for at least one team to reject. Maybe I’m missing something but you seem to be claiming that after asking the teams for full support and not getting it, they are about to introduce reverse grids anyway, and then the teams will get to vote it out? Or at least I guess you are claiming that that is what many people suspect, which I find unfortunate and must be an indication that people are reading into Liberty’s comments what they want to read, and not what is actually being said or done.

            1. Anon Just to change something I said in my second last sentence, the suggestion is that Liberty would somehow slip reverse grids in and then NOT give the teams a chance to vote it out, and I just don’t see that as the way Liberty has been operating.

            2. @robbie I am saying that there is a mistrust of Liberty Media and that there is a group that does not buy their statements at face value.

              To a certain extent, some of that might also come from the recent aero cap rules, where there was an initial impression of it being just a temporary measure. I might be mistaken, but I have a recollection that you yourself talked of the idea as being a temporary measure that you saw as a further levelling mechanism for a couple of years after the new rules kick in.

              Now, however, we are being told that those rules are permanent alterations to the regulations that are an “NLF draft pick” mechanism, which gives a different impression of what those rules are now intended to do when compared to how they were initially thought to work. Having been given an impression that one set of rule changes were only meant to be temporary, but are now being made into permanent alterations to the regulations, I can see why some might expect the same thing to happen again in this situation.

        2. This.
          Nailed it beautifully @stefmeister

        3. @stefmeister What exactly are the gimmicks that Liberty are bringing in that you disdain and that have caused such distrust? Also, had a different entity taken over from BE what would you have preferred they do as opposed to where Liberty has erred?

          1. @robbie The gimmicks that are already there would be things like DRS. I know that pre-dates Liberty but that (Along with the artificially high degredation tyres) was the start of me getting very down on F1. I wasn’t meaning to say I blame that on Liberty or that’s where any distrust comes from, Just that these things were the start of my frustrations.

            In terms of me not trusting Liberty it just feels like they talk about not wanting gimmicks, Not wanting to change the core of what F1 is while at the same time running with ideas like reverse grids, Retaining DRS beyond 2021 (Claiming they just won’t use it) & some of the other things like Aero handicaps, More spec components etc.. It just sort of feels like they say one thing (We don’t like gimmicks & don’t want to change the core of F1) while then doing/backing things which lean more in the opposite direction to that.

            I don’t know it’s just when I hear them say things like ‘DRS will stay on the cars beyond 2021 but we won’t use it’ I just don’t believe them, I just don’t trust Liberty or F1 in general to not start turning DRS on if there’s not much overtaking in 5-10 laps.

            And been fair to Liberty I guess me singling them out is wrong as it’s not simply them, It’s more F1 in general I guess.

            1. @stefmeister Fair comment. And it’s not that I don’t share some of your concerns. For me my overwhelming feeling on things is that of gratitude that someone has taken over from BE and has put into play so many things to address the issues that have been around for decades. So that’s how it starts for me as one sounding like I’ll defend Liberty to the nth degree. I want to at least give them their day in the sun, which for me only really starts when BE related contracts through 2020 run out and the revolutionary new Brawn cars are on the grid. Obviously the pandemic has put a bit of a twist in the plot.

              I too was very disappointed that drs was being retained. Brawn has stated he never liked drs. In my attempt to keep looking at the glass half full, my interpretation of their retention of drs goes more towards Brawn’s understanding that in spite of the drastic new technical regs, his experience tells him that teams will still try to find ways to create as much dirty air as possible, or to find some way to grab more aero downforce than his models have shown. Personally I think the cars will be so much less wing aero dependent with so much more ground effects that I really doubt they will need drs. I think of it not as Brawn having doubts about his own new cars and therefore wanting to keep drs that he doesn’t like, but that he knows that the teams could find loopholes or other ways to claw some of the aero dependency back, and create dirty air and cause processions again. Again though, I’m quite confident dirty air is no longer going to be an issue…no longer going to be created given the extent of the new regs, nor will they be able to do enough with wings such that the cars will be ultra dependent on clean air still. But it is more economical to have the teams keep the drs design in the rear wings now, while they’re designing and building their totally new and different cars, and hopefully never use drs, than to find the teams have done something different than Brawn’s models show, and there is no increase in driver vs driver encounters, and processions still, and then how do you add back drs on cars not meant for it. Ultimately I take the presence of drs on the new cars as only a precautionary measure but not something anyone within F1 is joyfully looking and hoping to need and use.

              Trust me I will have a tough time in 2022 if from race one they are using/feeling the need for drs with the ground effects cars. At that point I will have given Liberty and Brawn the start of their day in the sun and will have considered it a failure that they still couldn’t design out drs after months and months of two cars nose to tail in a wind tunnel.

              As to reverse grids I really appreciate that they have asked for consensus on that, rather than just dictating it into use. It (an experiment) has been rejected twice now and I would think that idea has now gone away.

              The spec components, yeah we would all I’m sure wish for the days again of unlimited innovation/spending but that is simply unsustainable and there must now be an effort to give hope to the lesser teams or we will never see a new entrant again. What I sense from Brawn though is that he absolutely understands (because he has lived it) the desire and the need in F1 to keep up as much innovation as possible, while having to balance that with the smaller teams’ issues and money overall, and that is why he has made every effort possible to make the spec components the less sexy, less visible, lower hanging fruit kind of components of the car. That shows me how tough his job is of having to curtail the teams financially without making it too spec. For now there is little choice and the financials have to take over from too much freedom to innovate. Perhaps there will come a day when F1 has pumped itself back up, back to the days of more money and sponsors and audience, at which point they could relax some restrictions on innovation, as long as the financials make sense and there is a good balance between have teams and have not teams through the caps and the better money distribution.

              I just admire and respect Liberty and Brawn for all along being willing to consult with teams on everything and discuss and negotiate and walk some things back that the teams have rejected and accept that all the teams have different individual needs and desires and that compromises have been made. They truly want all teams on board and happy with the new F1 as the way to go forward and make it grow and keep it sustainable in a positive atmosphere.

      2. The ‘Albon parks at turn’ isn’t a big a probem as it won’t get him (a proper) pole but merely a front start in a race which doesn’t award points.
        But more importantly it could’ve been resolved by having the sprint race starting grid be the reverse of the previous week’s real race starting grid. No driver will give up a position in a real race in week 1 to have a better starting position in a qualifying race in week 2.

      3. I used to think so as well. Why not try it? But how do you define whether it works? What is the goal it achieves or how do you measure its success afterwards? While fia and liberty for sure would be more than happy to mention how the number of passes increased I don’t necessarily see whether that alone is a sign of success.

        1. @socksolid I have yet to hear Liberty or Brawn or FIA tout that they want to see more passes, let alone that they are going to brag about ever increasing numbers of passes. Perhaps you could provide some quotes for that assertion. What I am quite sure Brawn has spoken about specifically on the topic though is they want and expect to see more passing attempts as well as more defensive driving once the cars are able to race more closely. Their goal is to have more driver vs driver encounters, rather than driver stuck behind other driver in dirty air. Their goal imho is certainly not vastly more passes just for the sake of the numbers. But hey if you can direct me to the quotes where they have said they simply want passes for the sake of the sheer numbers of them, then I’ll of course stand corrected.

    2. Yes, let’s try reverse grid. We can also try other stuff. The guy leading the championship has to ride a horse instead of using his car in one of the races. If your car is way too slow during qualifying, you start the race two laps ahead of the others. If someone is leading by more than 30 seconds he has to go to the pits and leave the car for 10 push-ups before he is allowed to come back.

    3. Ricciardo joins critics of reverse-grid qualifying race scheme

      With the current performance of the Renaults he’d be better off with the reverse grid.
      Anyway didn’t someone representing Liberty just say that they weren’t into gimmicks?

    4. I think they could have given it a try; maybe not all double-headers, but at least a one-off… on Silverstone, let’s say.

      Generally I don’t support reverse grids, but if could objectively choose, meaning I knew what such races looked like in the context of F1, maybe I would have changed my mind. Fanboost is a total bs, for example, but this might actually be nice.

      Also people seem to forget that DRS is still around and if that’s not the most artificial bs in F1 I don’t know what is. I really appreciate it as an innovation, the technical thought behind it and all, but it has to go.

    5. The beauty of the current Qualifying system is it encourages drivers to try as hard as they can to improve. There’s no reward for where you are placed on the grid other than for bragging rights. A reverse grid, on the other hand, encourages drivers to do a minimal effort attempt, and the more minimal the better. Why would you risk crashing your car while trying to produce a time of 1:30 on a track when 2:30 could put you nearer the front of the grid? You could even call up on the RT and claim all sorts of fanciful reasons why you couldn’t go faster.
      If they want to try something different then they need to make use of the current reward systems, which are the World Drivers’ Championship points and the World Constructors’ Championship points. Points cover the first 10 places of a race, so a driver is encouraged to defend their place because they and the team loose points if they don’t defend, whereas below 10th bragging rights are what count. So, for example, say the first 10 places in at the first race somewhere were carried over to the first 10 places at the second race there, except that the starting grid order at the second race was the reverse of the finishing order of the first. In that scenario, isn’t the WDC points, even for 9th place, 2 points, worth more than the 1 point for 10th, which would then translate to Pole Position at the second race?

    6. If they’re going to reverse grid positions to ruin the sport why not put coaster wheels on the halo and roll hoop and run the cars upside down? That would be really different and random results could pretty much be guaranteed. You know Bernie would love it and Ross Brawn would find a way to make it seem reasonable.

    7. Honestly sounds like a good way to cause a huge pileup and have cars missing from Sunday’s race.

    8. Absolutely ridiculous. You may as well have teams draw straws and not bother having qualifying.

      Less gimmicks and more racing. Yes, there is a gap between the top three and the rest (and then Williams) but this is not the way to address it. The same three teams would take the same 6 podium slots, it would just take a few laps to get to the front unless there’s the spectacle of a crash.

      It would be great entertainment, and yes I’d love to see it. But it wouldn’t feel like a championship race, just a fun showcase event.

      Hopefully the new regulations will help create more parity in the field, we’ll know when that is achieved because we’ll no longer see daft ideas like this give serious consideration.

      1. @geekzilla9000

        You may as well have teams draw straws and not bother having qualifying.

        That was done at many races for top-formula cars in the 1930s, and I prefer that to reverse-grid. At least it doesn’t punish people for being successful.

        1. @alianora-la-canta – I never realised that and you’re right – that would be better than reverse grid!

          I’d actually be fine with that, randomised is better than reverse if it was for every race so that the the chances of a fairly even distribution would be met!

    9. Just to reiterate something, and I as usual am willing to be corrected on this, the two times Liberty/Brawn have brought this up according to the above article, last year, and now in recent weeks, were both times that they were proposing an experiment, is that not correct? They have not tried to push this concept through for permanence but rather have wanted to try it when it would have been the least invasive so that they could then get everyone’s reaction and then put it to a vote for potential permanence, or not, after that, no? Nowhere in the above article does it mention an experiment but as far as I’m concerned that is all Liberty and Brawn have proposed so far. An experiment and then they go from there based on the response. The response seems to be that at least one team does not want to even try it, and there are drivers that think it is a joke too. I’m fine with that. I’m absolutely fine with them conducting an experiment for a few races, and I’m absolutely fine if they never do reverse grids. I just don’t think Liberty or Brawn need to be castigated for wanting to try an experiment but all the while asking for the teams support and accepting their rejection of it.

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