Formula 1 is reportedly considering using the forthcoming doubleheader races to experiment with the use of reverse-grid ‘sprint races’ as a means to determine the grid for the main Grand Prix.
A meeting last Friday between the FIA, Liberty Media and all ten teams saw the idea raised to use one of the two upcoming Austrian races to trail the Saturday Sprint race concept.
Ultimately, the largest concern of using reverse grid races is those teams which have designed a competitive package would be compelled to start from the rear of the field, creating ‘too unpredictable’ race results that go against the principles of Grand Prix racing,
The grid for the qualifying sprint race would be the reverse of the championship order. The final results would ultimately order the field for Sunday’s main event.
The following week’s race will see the return of the traditional three-part Saturday afternoon qualifying.
According to senior F1 reporter Mark Hughes, trailing the use of reverse grid qualifying races at the opening Austrian race weekend followed by a more orthodox weekend format will provide F1 with valuable data to understand whether the unusual format could become a worthwhile concept moving forward.
Since the beginning of the turbo-hybrid era in 2014 and its subsequent Mercedes dominance, F1 has announced countless times its intentions to find unique ways in improving the spectacle of sport and eliminate the processional races that have too often been a significant turnoff for new followers.
The notion has already received the full support of the FIA but would require the unanimous agreement of all ten teams due to being an amendment to the current sporting regualtions.
The initial response across the teams proved to be mixed though nothing was concrete. A formal vote is expected to go ahead next week.
F1 has experimented with several format changes in a bid to increase the unpredictability of the races.
The most criticised being the impermanent introduction of knockout qualifying sessions in 2016. After receiving a deluge of dissatisfaction from fans and drivers alike the format was dropped after two Grands Prix and has since never made an attempt to return.