Wolff: Mercedes blocked ‘wrong’ reversed grids to protect F1

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has confirmed that his team blocked the idea to experiment with reversed-grid races next year in order to protect Formula 1's "DNA"

Wolff: Mercedes blocked ‘wrong’ reversed grids to protect F1

F1 owner Liberty Media had been keen to trial three reversed-grid qualifying races next year - in France, Belgium and Russia - to see if the format was something that worked and could be used longer term.

But following a team meeting in Paris last week, two of the current teams made clear they did not support the idea, and without a unanimous agreement it has had to be shelved.

Wolff says Mercedes was one of the outfits against it, but is adamant it did it not to preserve its competitive advantage but because it felt it would have been a wrong move for the sport.

"I did it because we have a responsibility in F1 to preserve the DNA," said Wolff. "It felt wrong, not in order to preserve an advantage because maybe it would have been good for us as Ferrari would have been behind us when you look at the current qualifying pace.

"But I voted against it because when you're looking at the 100m final in the Olympics, you're not making Usain Bolt start five metres behind just to make it an exciting finish."

Despite the reversed grid idea being off the table for 2020, it remains possible that it could be resurrected for the following year if there is majority support.

McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl said that once the basic 2021 regulations had been agreed by the end of next week, then perhaps the reversed grid idea could return.

"There were two teams against it and I think it is off the table, at the moment for 2020," he said. "The discussions are focused on getting the '21 regulations waved through in the next week, focus on that, and as soon as we have clarity on that, I think there is chance we restart the discussions again.

"[It's] not just for the possible qualifying race, but several other topics which have been discussed between the teams, FIA and FOM."

F1 managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn invested a lot of time and effort in trying to convince teams and drivers that the reversed grid experiment was worth doing for next year.

He said in Mexico last weekend that he felt the teams' reluctance to embrace change because of fears it would help their own interests was something that had long held F1 back.

"I thought it was a fascinating contest," he told the official F1 website about the reversed grid idea. "And the drivers were a little bit nervous, which I can understand, but we were just asking for the opportunity for three races to try the format.

"If it doesn't work, we put our hands up; if it does work, great. If it's something in between, we can work with [that] just to help us develop the format of racing, and it's frustrating that we've not been able to do that but I think that's - unfortunately - the classic problem with Formula 1."

shares
comments
Haas F1 drivers Grosjean, Magnussen to sample NASCAR at F1's US GP

Previous article

Haas F1 drivers Grosjean, Magnussen to sample NASCAR at F1's US GP

Next article

Verstappen's F1 Mexican GP pole penalty delay explained

Verstappen's F1 Mexican GP pole penalty delay explained
Load comments
The times that suggest Verstappen should be confident of F1 Russian GP recovery Plus

The times that suggest Verstappen should be confident of F1 Russian GP recovery

For the second race in a row, Mercedes has ended the first day of track action on top. It’s in a commanding position at the Russian Grand Prix once again – this time largely thanks to Max Verstappen’s upcoming engine-change grid penalty. But there’s plenty to suggest all hope is not lost for the championship leader at Sochi

The ‘backwards step’ that is the right move for Formula 1 Plus

The ‘backwards step’ that is the right move for Formula 1

OPINION: With its days apparently numbered, the MGU-H looks set to be dropped from Formula 1’s future engine rules in order to entice new manufacturers in. While it may appear a change of direction, the benefits for teams and fans could make the decision a worthwhile call

Formula 1
Sep 23, 2021
The floundering fortunes of F1’s many Lotus reboots Plus

The floundering fortunes of F1’s many Lotus reboots

Team Lotus ceased to exist in 1994 - and yet various parties have been trying to resurrect the hallowed name, in increasingly unrecognisable forms, ever since. DAMIEN SMITH brings GP Racing’s history of the legendary team to an end with a look at those who sought to keep the flame alive in Formula 1

Formula 1
Sep 22, 2021
Why the 2021 title fight is far from F1's worst, despite its toxic background Plus

Why the 2021 title fight is far from F1's worst, despite its toxic background

OPINION: Formula 1 reconvenes for the Russian Grand Prix two weeks after the latest blow in ‘Max Verstappen vs Lewis Hamilton’. While the Silverstone and Monza incidents were controversial, they thankfully lacked one element that so far separates the 2021 title fight from the worst examples of ugly championship battles

Formula 1
Sep 22, 2021
How F1’s other champion to emerge from 1991 thrived at Lotus Plus

How F1’s other champion to emerge from 1991 thrived at Lotus

Mika Hakkinen became Michael Schumacher’s biggest rival in Formula 1 in the late-90s and early 2000s, having also made his F1 debut in 1991. But as MARK GALLAGHER recalls, while Schumacher wowed the world with a car that was eminently capable, Hakkinen was fighting to make his mark with a famous team in terminal decline

Formula 1
Sep 21, 2021
The forgotten F1 comeback that began Jordan’s odyssey  Plus

The forgotten F1 comeback that began Jordan’s odyssey 

Before Michael Schumacher – or anyone else – had driven the 191 (or 911 as it was initially called), Eddie Jordan turned to a fellow Irishman to test his new Formula 1 car. JOHN WATSON, a grand prix winner for Penske and McLaren, recalls his role in the birth of a legend…

Formula 1
Sep 20, 2021
The squandered potential of a 70s F1 underdog Plus

The squandered potential of a 70s F1 underdog

A podium finisher in its first outing but then never again, the BRM P201 was a classic case of an opportunity squandered by disorganisation and complacency, says STUART CODLING

Formula 1
Sep 18, 2021
The other notable Monza escape that F1 should learn from Plus

The other notable Monza escape that F1 should learn from

OPINION: The headlines were dominated by the Italian Grand Prix crash between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, who had the halo to thank for avoiding potentially serious injury. But two days earlier, Formula 1 had a lucky escape with a Monza pitlane incident that could also have had grave consequences

Formula 1
Sep 17, 2021