Alonso & Wolff Shut Down Binotto’s F1 Reverse Grid Proposal

Published 09/12/2021, 6:45 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – Italian Grand Prix – Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Monza, Italy – September 11, 2021 General view during the sprint qualifying REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini


The second round of sprint racing has brought back the debate of its requirement. Many drivers have taken to the format; the short race providing an ecstatic burst of competition and excitement. After the Italian GP sprint, Mattia Binotto stood behind the idea of reverse grids. According to him, it would add to the spectacle. Fernando Alonso and Toto Wolff shared their thoughts on the same.

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Fernando Alonso’s racecraft seems to suit the sprint layout. On Saturday’s session, Alonso was a true lion on the track, hunting down the prey ahead of him. Also, in Silverstone, Alonso shone through with his overtaking skills. The man who is soon becoming Mr. Sprint, Alonso will start the race in 10th.

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The Spaniard isn’t quite drawn to the idea of a reversed grid. “It would not be quite fair, even if it works well in lower categories.” Although the format would help him on most days, Alonso is against it. “It would even be good for me now that I do not have a winning car, but I think it would not be entirely fair, it would be lost a bit the DNA of F1, that of the fastest car that has an advantage for it and it should be like that.”

The debate of a reverse grid seems to be a futile one. Although it adds on to the pizzaz of further challenging the race leaders, as Alonso states: it would be unfair.

Toto Wolff shares his thoughts

A mixed Italian GP for Wolff, with Hamilton in fourth and Bottas starting 20th despite winning three points for the team. Regardless of the sprint results, Wolff said he likes the format but doesn’t think it will stay around. “I think sprint races were worth it, but I’m not sure we’ll keep them .”

Dismissing Binotto, the Austrian said, “Reverse grids can be done in junior formulas, where you want to see the drivers’ overtaking skills, but that’s not something we should get close to in F1.”

Formula One F1 – Italian Grand Prix – Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Monza, Italy – September 11, 2021 Williams’ George Russell during the sprint qualifying REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini

Instead, the Mercedes boss presented his own alternative. Wolff proposed a practice session each on Friday and Saturday- followed by a normal qualifying session on Saturday to set the grid. “Maybe we can re-introduce the warm-up on Sunday morning, to have a little more show for the people. I would only shorten the free practice sessions so that there is more variability in the results, keeping the rest as it is.”

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Formula One F1 – Italian Grand Prix – Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Monza, Italy – September 11, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton during the sprint qualifying REUTERS/Massimo Pinca

For Wolff, the entire situation is puzzling. “It doesn’t give many benefits because no one is ready to take a serious risk.”

As the debate goes on, fans and a majority of the drivers seem to enjoy the mini race. Reverse grid or not, the lineup for Sunday’s race is fascinating, with an all-orange top three ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

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Shreya Sanjeev

340 articles

Shreya Sanjeev is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. Having attained a journalism degree from St Xavier's College, she finds comfort in the sound of her keyboard while typing and excitement in the sound of F1 cars speeding on a track. A street circuit and Daniel Ricciardo fan through and through, Shreya claims the 2018 Monaco GP to be one of her favorite races of all time.

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