Two teams vote 'no' so F1 ditches reverse-grid plan

MEXICO CITY • Formula One has given up on plans to have three reverse-grid qualifying races next season, the sport's managing director Ross Brawn has said.

The experiment would have seen regular Saturday qualifying replaced with a short race, with drivers lining up in reverse order - with the championship leader last.

The results would then set the grid for Sunday's race.

But Brawn told the F1 website the proposal was dropped after two of the 10 teams voted against it.

"The current governance system means we need unanimity to carry any decisions through to next year," said the Briton, who did not identify the teams.

"The teams initially said they would agree with it, and then two teams put their hand up at the last meeting and said they wouldn't agree with it."

Brawn, who liked the idea while the drivers were nervous, added: "It's frustrating that we've not been able to do that but that's, unfortunately, the classic problem with Formula One."

Qualifying takes place in three phases over an hour on Saturday under the current format.

The five slowest cars are eliminated at the end of each of the first two phases, with pole decided in a final session with 10 cars.

Racing Point team principal Otmar Szafnauer had reservations about the experimental format.

"We have to answer a lot of questions. What happens if you crash in the qualifying race, we then have to carry more spares, who's going to pay for it, engine mileage might be a little different, tyre usage," he said last month.

Separately, Renault team boss Cyril Abiteboul claimed he was optimistic that the French carmaker will stay in the sport despite its F1 future being under review.

The company's interim chief executive officer Clotilde Delbos told analysts last week that all aspects of the business, including its continued participation in motor sports, were being examined.

While Abiteboul said in Mexico he could give no concrete assurances until the internal review was complete, he was "confident" of Renault's F1 future.

"Let's follow the process. But let's be optimistic," he said.

"Renault will be presented with a new contract for 2021-2025 and we will assess if we want to sign on those new terms.

"We've been in the sport for 42 years and we genuinely believe it adds something to the marketing value of the brand and to tell a story regarding technology."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 28, 2019, with the headline 'Two teams vote 'no' so F1 ditches reverse-grid plan'. Print Edition | Subscribe