F1: Mercedes explain opposition to reverse-grid qualifying race ‘lottery’

Toto Wolff has explained why Mercedes are opposed to reverse-grid races in 2020, telling Sky Sports F1 that the world champions are not prepared to “make any gifts” for their rivals by creating a “lottery”.

Formula 1 and its 10 teams have been discussing the prospect of replacing the Saturday qualifying format with a sprint race – where the championship order is reversed on the starting grid – to spice up the second event at tracks (Spielberg, Silverstone) which are hosting two Grands Prix this year.

The finishing positions of that race would then set the grid for Sunday’s GP.

  • Reverse-grid races ‘too soon’ for 2020
  • Horner: Merc don’t want to ‘interfere with Hamilton’

But while the proposal has garnered the support of most teams, Mercedes – who have dominated F1 since 2014 – are against it, and their team principal Wolff spoke to Sky F1’s Martin Brundle to clarify their stance, and respond to Red Bull boss Christian Horner’s comments earlier this week.

“First of all, we seem to be digging out old ideas that have been diligently analysed and have been rejected for some good reasons,” explained Wolff in an interview which aired at the start of Wednesday’s Sky F1 Vodcast.

“One of those reasons is that we know it from touring car racing that strategy games are the name of the game, and if you know that you’re not in a great position on the weekend before, you may decide to DNF a car and start the next weekend on pole. Maybe [there are] teams that will be using that for an advantage.

“Then, midfield cars will fight heavy for position, as they should, so for the top teams coming from behind it will mean more risks in overtaking and that could mean making this championship a bit of a lottery.

“The number two reason is that we simply love the meritocracy if Formula 1. Best man, and best machine wins. I think a lot of fans have expressed that same view. We are real racers, we think Formula 1 doesn’t need a show format like wrestling and the DNA is important.

“The third reason, and this is the more inward-looking reason, is simply that we have a championship to play for. We believe we have a good car, and of course for the second and third place team it’s an advantage to start in front.

“Formula 1 is a tough business and you’re not here to make any gifts.”

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