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Lewis Hamilton gives surprise verdict on radical reverse grid format

The Mercedes driver was dead set against it back in 2019 but seems to have changed his tune

Kieran Jackson
Formula 1 Correspondent
Wednesday 06 December 2023 13:12 GMT
Hamilton admits feeling self-doubt after tough F1 season

Lewis Hamilton insists he is in favour of the radical reverse grid concept which could be introduced in sprint events.

F1 announced on Tuesday the six venues which will host sprint races next season, adding that potential changes to the format – including scheduling and the reverse grid concept – are still being discussed, with a decision set to be made in January.

A reverse grid would see a certain amount of places from the qualifying session flipped. For instance, in F2 and F3, the top 10 qualifiers are switched for the sprint race but kept the same for the main race.

In 2019, when Hamilton was on his way to winning his sixth world title, the Mercedes driver dismissed the idea of reverse grids: “The people who have proposed it don’t really know what they’re talking about.”

However, the 38-year-old appears to have changed his tune when he was questioned on the potential reforms last month.

“Saturday is not the greatest of days but I like the single practice session straight into qualifying,” he said.

“I think we can learn. I love that we do have a different format rather than just the same three practice sessions and then the qualifying and the race.

“The best sprint race I ever had was when I started last [in 2021 in Brazil] and so I’m in favour of the reverse order, except if we had that then everyone will just try and qualify last!”

Lewis Hamilton says he is now in favour of the reverse grid concept for sprint races (Getty Images)

Hamilton was disqualified from qualifying at Interlagos in 2021, meaning he started 20th for the sprint race but, by the end of the grand prix on Sunday, he had fought his way back up to first for a memorable victory.

The attitude of the seven-time world champion towards sprints vastly contrasts to Max Verstappen, who has made no secret of his dislike for the Saturday 100km dash.

The three-time champion even threatened to quit the sport in April if the number of sprint races were expanded.

Max Verstappen, however, has made no secret of his dislike for sprint events (Getty Images)

“I hope there won’t be too many changes, otherwise I won’t be around for too long,” he said.

“I am not a fan of it at all. When we do all that kind of stuff, the weekend becomes very intense and we already do a lot of races. But it is not the right way to go about it.

“Even if you change the format, I don’t find that is in the DNA of Formula One to do these kind of sprint races.

“F1 is about getting the most out of it in qualifying and have an amazing Sunday over a long race distance. That is the DNA of the sport and I don’t understand why we need to change that.”

The 2024 F1 season starts on 2 March with the Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir.

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