July 23, 2024

Mercedes F1 drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have both given their views on the idea of reverse grids in recent times, and hold contrasting views on the topic

Lewis Hamilton has changed his mind about reverse grids amid speculation they could be introduced into Formula 1 next year.

F1 executives are debating modifications to the Sprint format, which will make a comeback for its fourth season in 2024. Once more, two races rather than one will be held over the weekend for six events out of the 24-race schedule.

However, alterations are planned to improve the excitement of the short-form Sprint races. One idea that’s being discussed is the introduction of partially reversed grids, wherein the results of Shootout qualifying would have a certain number of places flipped around to determine the Sprint’s starting order.

The top 10 qualifiers are rotated for the Sprint and remain the same for the Main Race in the Formula 2 and Formula 3 feeder series, where it is currently in use.

Hamilton has previously stated that he opposes the use of reverse grids in Formula One. “I don’t really know what to say‚Ķ the people who have proposed it don’t really know what they’re talking about,” the British driver said in a statement to reporters during the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix.

But it appears that his opinion has evolved. Not only does he support the Sprint format overall, but he also appears to be in favor of switching grid positions for the short-form race. Even though it’s not the best of days, he expressed his preference for a single practice session leading directly into qualifying.

We can probably learn. I adore that our schedule isn’t the same three practice sessions followed by the qualifying round and the race. I support the reverse order because my best sprint race to date was when I started last [in Brazil 2021]. If we had the opposite order, though, everyone would simply try to qualify last.”

However, George Russell, his teammate, is obviously not a big fan of the concept. The Mercedes driver, who is also a director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, stated, “I won’t talk on behalf of the drivers, but my own personal view is I don’t think reverse grid races will work – purely because I learned this when I raced in Formula 3 and Formula 2.”

“The car you’re fighting with is the hardest to pass if you have the top ten fastest cars. If you flip that grid, the fastest car in position 10 will attempt to pass the second-fastest car in position 9, which is attempting to pass the third-fastest car in position 8. In other words, every car is genuinely attempting to pass the closest rival.

“In reality, what you would likely discover is that it would essentially be a DRS train, as there could be a Williams leading from a Haas that is struggling to pass, who is leading from an Alpine, who is then leading from a McLaren or another vehicle. Therefore, I believe the idea will fail.”

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