Wolff: ‘Stupid’ reverse grid sprints in F1 akin to WWE

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes that reverse grid sprint races in F1 would be “really stupid” and like the sport’s answer to World Wrestling Entertainment.

F1 unveiled this week its sprint calendar for 2024, with six venues earmarked to host the 30-minute mad dash, including newcomers China and Miami.

F1’s Sprint events have fallen short of both the fans and F1’s expectations in terms of the level of entertainment they provide.

The Saturday afternoon race is also often viewed as precursor to the Grand Prix proper – a dress rehearsal of sorts that takes away from Sunday’s showcase event an element of surprise and anticipation.

In a meeting of the F1 Commission in Abu Dhabi, team bosses concurred that the current format requires change, with potential solutions ranging from scheduling modifications to the introduction of reverse grids among other ideas.

After three seasons, Wolff still isn’t onboard with F1’s sprint concept.

"We have too many variables at the moment," he said in Abu Dhabi last month. "The Sprint weekends in general, I'm not the biggest fan because I think it dilutes the value of the Grand Prix.

"But I can understand that people like it - there's more people that like it than don't. Maybe I'm too purist. Maybe I'm too old school.

"I'd rather have a Grand Prix than a Sprint race weekend. We need to know that a Grand Prix is at two or three o'clock in the afternoon, and that's it.”

Wolff is all for change to try and improve the show on Saturdays for fans. But when it comes to implementing a reverse grid scheme, the Austrian offered a tongue-in-cheek view on the topic.

"I think to a degree you do a Sprint qualifying, you do a Sprint race, you do Grand Prix qualifying, and you do a Grand Prix. That works much better,” he said.

"We talked about reverse grid races. I can get my head around a reverse grid Sprint race because at least we are declaring that's the stupid race - six times a year, we're doing something really stupid, and everybody knows to differentiate that.

"There will be other winners and different podiums, that's refreshing. We do WWE on Saturday six times, and then we play Formula 1 24 times on Sunday."

Among other ideas that have been tabled is the possibility of establishing a dedicated Sprint-only championship with its own point schedule.

But at the end of the day, Wolff said that he will rely on the good judgement of Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali to make the right calls.

"Stefano knows what he's doing because he has all the data in the background," added Wolff.

“I’m questioning myself. Too purist? Too old school? Too stubborn? Maybe.

“The data shows there is an interest for the sprint race weekend, so for me to kind of get my head around it, again, make it really stupid, without distorting the main championship.

“What are we doing with points? That’s a different question.”

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