Forward of the rescheduled 2020 season, System One mentioned the concept of working a reverse grid qualifying race at this weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix, the title given to the second race at Austria’s Pink Bull Ring.
The idea was pretty easy. To make back-to-back races on the identical venue extra thrilling, F1’s conventional qualifying session would get replaced by a brief race, with the beginning determined by reversing the championship standings. The ending order of the qualifying race would then decide the grid for Sunday’s grand prix.
The concept, which required help from all groups, was scrapped after Mercedes made clear it was not in favour. Mercedes’ objection meant the precise particulars of reverse grid racing have been by no means fleshed out, however it was anticipated to be a 30-minute qualifying race, amounting to roughly 26 laps of the Pink Bull Ring.
Here is a have a look at what might need occurred based mostly on the championship order after the Austrian Grand Prix.
How the grid would have lined up
Pole: Max Verstappen (Pink Bull)
2nd: Daniel Ricciardo (Renault)
third: Lance Stroll (Racing Level)
4th: Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
fifth: Romain Grosjean (Haas)
sixth: George Russell (Williams)
seventh: Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)
eighth: Alex Albon (Pink Bull)
ninth: Daniil Kvyat (Alpha Tauri)
10th: Nicholas Latifi (Williams)
11th: Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
12th: Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)
13th: Esteban Ocon (Renault)
14th: Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri)
15th: Sergio Perez (Racing Level)
16th: Carlos Sainz (McLaren)
17th: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
18th: Lando Norris (McLaren)
19th: Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
20th: Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
What the qualifying race might need regarded like
The primary and most blatant level is that, barring any automobile failures or errors, Max Verstappen could be locked on for a victory on Saturday and pole place on Sunday.
The excessive variety of retirements in final Sunday’s race means the highest ten on the reverse grid could be peppered with fast vehicles, and none could be faster than Verstappen. The Dutchman would begin on reverse-grid pole because of his engine failure on lap 11 of the Austrian Grand Prix and, with that benefit, it is onerous to think about anybody difficult him through the dash race.
However look behind Verstappen and issues begin to get extra attention-grabbing. Daniel Ricciardo was working 10th within the Renault when he retired on Sunday, however was simply conserving tempo with Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari and the Racing Level of Lance Stroll, which additionally had an engine situation and would line up third behind Ricciardo. The overall feeling is that the Racing Level is the sooner automobile, however each Stroll and Ricciardo would in all probability select to remain out of hassle within the hope a clear race would give them a very good beginning place on Sunday.
Given how carefully matched the midfield was final weekend, there’s an opportunity they might retain positions on the second row, however the tempo of the Pink Bull would doubtless see them come underneath assault from Alex Albon. The Thai driver additionally retired from final week’s race however he was the final of the 9 retirees and would begin ninth consequently. As a way to be part of teammate Verstappen on the entrance row for Sunday’s race he must overtake one automobile each 4 laps, which appears very doable contemplating there are 4 comparatively sluggish vehicles between him Stroll in third.
The larger query is whether or not a Mercedes would be capable to make a cost by the sector and safe a second-row grid slot, and that’s the place majority of the eye could be targeted in our reverse-grid dash race. Lewis Hamilton regarded just like the quickest driver within the subject final Sunday, and regardless of beginning fifth on the grid and dropping time early within the race, he was proper up behind teammate Valtteri Bottas when the primary Security Automotive got here out on lap 25.
That Security Automotive truly offers us a helpful pattern of the relative tempo of the vehicles over 25 laps and it was clear to see how a lot of a bonus Mercedes and Pink Bull had over the remainder of the sector. Okay, it is not an ideal pattern because the drivers weren’t racing overly onerous they usually have been working with heavy gasoline tanks, however it offers us some ball park figures to play with. And by lap 25, the Mercedes drivers on the entrance of the sector held a 20-second benefit over Lando Norris and Sergio Perez on the head of the midfield.
Extrapolating that data to our imaginary dash race, we’ll assume Stroll can obtain an analogous tempo in a wholesome Racing Level to Norris and Perez on the entrance of the midfield. That might imply Hamilton have a 0.8s-per-lap benefit over the Canadian and between 25 and 26 laps to make up no matter deficit he had after the primary lap. If he had clear air, Hamilton would in all probability reel in Stroll in as little as eight or 9 laps, however within the reverse grid race he must move 14 vehicles to get there. The duty could be to keep up a tempo benefit of about 0.4s per lap whereas concurrently overtaking one automobile each one and half laps. It is a possible activity in a Mercedes, but additionally excessive danger contemplating one tangled wheel would see him begin from the again.
In the meantime, final weekend’s race winner Valtteri Bottas could be dealing with an excellent more durable problem within the second Mercedes. Beginning final, he would want to make up a place virtually each lap and would doubtless hit a buffer ought to he catch his teammate by the sector. Based mostly on Bottas’ typically tentative overtaking strikes in earlier years, it is potential he would wrestle to make the highest eight, particularly as he comes up in opposition to the likes of Sebastian Vettel, Sergio Perez, Carlos Sainz, Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc.
He would doubtless make up the remainder of the positions within the grand prix on Sunday, however could be at a major drawback in comparison with his most important opponents.
Would F1 be higher with reverse grids?
After such an exhilarating opening race on the Pink Bull Ring on Sunday, it hardly seems like a chore to return and do all of it once more seven days later. A repeat of final weekend’s motion could be something however a disappointment, so there’s a wider query of whether or not F1 actually wants spicing up with reverse grid racing?
However there is not any doubt that it will have been a curiosity. Seeing quick vehicles race from the again of the grid would have added some jeopardy, though midfield vehicles seeing a Mercedes or Pink Bull of their mirrors would doubtless get out the way in which, realizing they might solely ultimately lose the place in Sunday’s race anyway.
The principle constructive from a championship viewpoint could be giving Pink Bull an instantaneous leg up after such a disappointing opening spherical. However then we get to the broader argument of whether or not failure ought to be rewarded and success penalised in F1?
When you think about rain is forecast for Saturday in Austria anyway, the usual qualifying format might end in an much more of a blended grid than a reverse-grid race.