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Prost threatens to walk away from F1

NEWS STORY
20/09/2021

Little by little, the sport's powers that be are introducing new gimmicks intended - so we are told - to spice up the action and level the playing field.

Ahead of next year's great re-set, at present attention is focussed on the Sprint.

On the evidence of Silverstone and Monza, the Sprint hasn't been having the impact F1 bosses had hoped for, but it is clear that they intend pressing ahead with the concept.

After all, what is the most exciting part of the standard Grand Prix weekend? Other than the final moments of qualifying it is the start of the Grand Prix, for it is at the start and over the course of the lap that follows that there is the most chance of a headline grabbing incident as the drivers jostle for position.

For casual fans and even those with a passing interest, it is the anticipation in the moments before the red lights go out, and the moments that follow, that are the highlight of the weekend.

Now, with the introduction of the Sprint, F1 gets two starts, double the bang for its buck, no wonder the likes of Ross Brawn - with the full support of the broadcasters - continue to sing the concept's praises.

While the Sprint is currently being trialled, recent comments from Stefano Domenicali suggest that it is here to stay, indeed there is even talk of a separate Tennis-style Grand Slam championship for the Sprint events which are now being considered as standalone races.

With the teams (and promoters) having rejected proposals for two-day race weekends and also reverse grids, F1 bosses are still considering their options, and speaking in Italy Mattia Binotto appeared in favour of trialling reverse grids.

However, Alain Prost, arguably one of the sport's greatest drivers, and now a 'special advisor' with Alpine, admits that should reverse grids get the thumbs up he would walk away from the sport.

"I think it's good that Formula 1 is trying some things," he tells the French team's Prost in the Paddock podcast, "but you have to understand why you want to do this.

"You have to ask yourself why," he continues. "Formula 1 must remain traditional. We have to understand the best car and the best driver win because they are the best. That's the whole idea of Formula 1.

"I hate the idea of a reverse starting order," he admits. "I hate it. If they introduce the reversed grid in Formula 1, I would leave the sport.

"I think that's the worst thing you can do for Formula 1. I would rather see a team dominate because they did the best work than a reversed grid.

"But I am very traditionalist. They also experimented with points for pole position at the time, which I was not happy about."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by geordiemik, 23/09/2021 23:54

"If they reverse the grid, how will they prove that a driver was not just pretending he had a 'problem' and ended up with the slowest time in order to start from the front? Imagine the spectacle of Ferraris and Red Bulls chugging round 'stuck' in third gear. Or how about Bottas accidentally blocking Hamilton to spoil his fast lap? Or am I just being an old cynic?"

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2. Posted by kenji, 23/09/2021 0:43

"Surely by putting the fastest cars on the front line the status quo will never change. The fastest cars don't always win but going by the stats it certainly looks like it. Even die hard fans get bored with the same old same old and 'real' competition becomes a secondary factor. Only when we two fast cars with two fast teams do we see a glimmer of hope. One only has to witness the results at Monza to see the huge response to a popular alternative winner. Not only is Ricciardo a immensely popular driver, the mere fact that they could beat both Mercedes and Red Bull on merit rather proves my point. I would not be averse to some form of 'handicapping' to even out the win ratios. I raced yachts for very many years and the handicap system for short ocean racing was excellent despite the multitude of natural factors affecting strategies. I stiil struggle to understand why so many people come into F1 especially when they know that with their structure/finance that they'll never set foot on the podium. How on earth do they maintain their motivation year in year out? They are not all billionaire benevolent benefactors either...."

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3. Posted by Max Noble, 22/09/2021 9:59

"@Pavlo - bullseye. Well stated."

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4. Posted by Pavlo, 21/09/2021 18:55

"It’s not about “tradition”, it’s about “adult vs kindergarten”. I also invent funny rules when I compete against my kids to keep it interesting for everyone.
Real adult sport is not about making it easy. To beat Usain Bolt you need to train harder and run faster. To beat Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes, you need to work terribly hard. To start from the front row in Spa on a Williams you need will and courage, not just a bit of pure luck.
This is what we love. This is why Russel and Riccardo are proud and respected. Because we know it was not luck, but pure “being the best of all”."

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5. Posted by Mad Matt, 21/09/2021 13:27

"I'm all for more racing but a sprint race has to be short and frenetic, not just a short procession and it appears F1 can't deliver that kind of action so for me I feel obliged to watch the sprint race but I don't really derive much pleasure from it.

Reversing the grid seem OK but then you need multiple races, so race 1 based on qualifying and race 2 a reverse of race 1 (or partial reverse). It works in BTCC, or at least it works from my POV.

Putting the two together you'd be better off with normal quali, main race and then a sprint with a reversed grid (a reverse of the main races finishing positions). Then the sprint might see more action as faster cars have to work their way through and the drivers might be a little less conservative knowing that the main race has already been run.

On the whole I think they should leave the traditional race weekend alone. The only two changes (apart from getting the cars to be able to race closer together) I would like to see are:
1. More winter testing so drivers changing teams get a chance to adapt.
2. Teams being obliged to run rederve or young drivers in FP1. A chance for teams to see new talent and for that talent to get used to F1.

I reserve the right to change this list without notice and to whinge about something different if the mood so takes me :-)"

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6. Posted by kenji, 21/09/2021 11:22

"@ Cobra Driver...Thanks for the acknowledgment haha. My thoughts are as below...but I shall reiterate that having three sessions of FP are, to put it politely, boring and unnecessary. That is proved by the intro of the 'sprint'. I mean, I'm not too fussed about it all, I just rather enjoyed the fact that there was some more racing with the possibilty that there could be an upset to the status quo."

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7. Posted by Cobra Driver, 21/09/2021 10:52

"No disagreement with Mr Prost here. Having had some experience with reverse grid as a vintage race organizer, I can remember the horrors. And as for sprint qualifying, what is Brawn trying to achieve? Over to you, kenji.
"

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8. Posted by TokyoAussie, 21/09/2021 4:10

"One can only but agree with Prost."

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9. Posted by WhyIsPitPass SoRightWing, 21/09/2021 2:55 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 21/09/2021 7:16)

"This comment was removed by an administrator as it was judged to have broken the site's posting rules and etiquette."

Rating: Neutral (0)

10. Posted by kenji, 21/09/2021 0:21

"On a more serious note, I find it all rather odd that there is so much protest about the sprint race. We still get a quali on Friday...that's fun. We get another sprint quali on Saturday which is deemed ' a race' and to all intents and purposes it is. Then the main event, the Grand prix, on Sunday. Free practice is mostly a bore but it's the only thing happening. So we get a lot more to keep up the interest. It's more racing so why is that bad? At least there are possibly more chances for the mid field to do something other than play to the same old song sheet we've had for eternity. Reverse grids are not my bag., but I do see how for some it could be a great idea. Make the fastest cars with the best drivers actually race hard for their immense salaries. I am hoping that the new regs/cars and costcap will bring more competition to the series. I'm rather sick of the same old faces promoting the same cliched responses to the same questions posed by the media for 'ad infinitum'."

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11. Posted by ZJAY, 20/09/2021 18:47

"If the drivers know that a particular race will start reverse grid to quali, everyone will try to be last. Therefore, a coin toss is needed to determine if a race is going to be started reverse grid, with the toos done after the quali.
Alternatively, why not award points to quali, and make the starting grid computer generated at random.
Ok, final idea: why not have a race and award the points based on a computer generated algorithm on variables such as fan sentiments, number of passes, stress level of driver, etc,..."

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12. Posted by Roli, 20/09/2021 18:09 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 21/09/2021 7:16)

"I absolutely, unequivocally agree with Mr Prost. It would be absolute carnage at the first corner. Maybe its what Media Liberty wants, "excitement". Whoever put this forward is an absolute k**b ! What next? pull a ball out of a hat to setup the grid ? Nonsense."

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13. Posted by Endre, 20/09/2021 16:28

"He will definitely not be the only one to do so if this happens. So will the majority of viewers in my opinion."

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