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Reverse grids would spell 'disaster', says Grosjean

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Reversed starting grids, one of several proposals under discussion by Formula One team bosses on Tuesday in meetings about the sport’s future look and direction, would spell “disaster”, according to French driver Romain Grosjean.

Lotus Formula One driver Romain Grosjean of France wears a French national flag on his left arm after the qualifying session for the Brazilian F1 Grand Prix in Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 14, 2015. REUTERS/Nacho Doce/Files

The concept of setting the grid by reversing the order of the top 10 drivers from qualifying, so that the fastest starts 10th, has been discussed previously to make races less predictable.

The usual front-runners would then have to fight through the field rather than pulling clear at the front without being challenged.

Championship points would be awarded for qualifying to give drivers every incentive to chase pole position.

Grosjean, now with the new U.S.-owned Haas F1 team, experienced the reversed format on his way to winning the GP2 feeder series.

“Disaster,” he told Reuters when asked about the idea during pre-season testing. “I’ve been doing it in GP2 and it’s probably why you win the title but it’s not why you win races.”

Grosjean said making cars harder and more physical to drive, and drivers more susceptible to fatigue and mistakes, would have the same end result in terms of adding to the excitement without being artificial.

“Formula One people want to see qualifying, they want to see a race, they want to see gladiators fighting with the best cars in the world, being the best drivers, finishing tired and exhausted and having given 100 percent,” he said.

The French driver, who raced for Lotus last season, said he did not like awarding points for qualifying and a recent fan survey had reinforced that.

“The fans are happy with the (existing) format, they are happy to see qualifying and a race,” he said.

“I think the format is good. We just want to make sure that...we have cars which take physically some really strong energy so then you can see mistakes at the end of the race.”

Red Bull principal Christian Horner said on Monday that the sport’s commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone was keen on reversing the top 10 qualifiers.

“I’m sure it will get discussed. Whether that will get agreed or not I really don’t know,” he told reporters.

“Let’s see what happens. He (Ecclestone) wants to shake things up a bit. He’s a promoter, he’s got to sell Formula One around the world and he wants it to be the most exciting and spectacular it can possibly be.”

Editing by Ed Osmond