Toto Wolff trashes reverse grid qualifying… with valid arguments!

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says Mercedes will not support “gimmicks” intended to artificially make racing more exciting.

Recently Formula 1 returned to the idea of introducing reverse grid qualifying sprints in an effort to make double-header weekends at the same venue more interesting. The idea was to have a 30-minute qualifying race instead of regular qualifying on the second weekend, with the starting order based on the current championship order.

In order to introduce this new system, all teams needed to agree, however reports quickly came out that Mercedes was the one team that was not on board. At a recent media conference Toto Wolff explained the reasoning behind Mercedes’ refusal to go along with this idea.

“It seems to be a common pattern in Formula 1 that we’re digging out old ideas that have been analysed previously and rejected,” said Wolff.

“Then somebody thinks it’s great and it’s back on the back on the agenda. So you need to look at the reasons why we were against it, and there’s three fundamental reasons.

“First, I believe that F1 is a meritocracy. Best man in best machine wins. We don’t need a gimmick to turn the field around to create more exciting racing.

“Number two, I know it from touring car racing that strategies become a very useful tool when one race result is basically making the grid for the next one.

“Just imagine one of the drivers not running well on the Sunday race of the first Spielberg weekend, and you decide to DNF the car. That will be the car that starts from pole for the qualy race.

“And if that car starting on pole on the qualy race is within midfielders, he will certainly be on pole for Sunday and win the race.

“There will be cars in the middle that will defend and block as much as they can. And therefore, for the quick cars coming from behind, it will mean more risk for a DNF and that could influence the championship.

“And then, from a pure performance standpoint, whoever the fastest car may be, and it’s not necessarily us, will be penalised [compared to the] second and third quickest teams, because they will simply start in front.

“As we know the margins are often not very large, so therefore it’s a bit of an opportunistic move to give some teams an advantage.

“We said this is not the time to experiment with things that interestingly, didn’t even have the support of Formula 1’s fan community.

“In a survey only 15% expressed an interest in reverse grids,” concluded the Austrian.

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