Winning from 22nd? Maybe reverse grids are an option

Formula 1 has mumbled the concept of reversing the grid in an effort to “spice up the show” and we even reversed our race review podcast grid to see if it worked. According to the feedback emails I’ve received, it did work as people seemed to like that approach.

Would reversing the grid be fun? I personally wouldn’t like it but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work. In fact, there’s been some interesting wins from the back of the grid over the years.

John Watson leads the pack with his win from 22nd place when he took his McLaren to the front of the 1983 USGP at Long Beach. In fact, he was leading by lap 45 of 75 total. John, foreshadowing what was to come, impressed by winning from 17th in 1982 taking his McLaren from the back to the front of the USGP in Detroit.

More recently, Rubens Barrichello won from 18th place in 2000 when he secured his first win ever and did it at Hockenheim in his Ferrari. Even more recently, Kimi Raikkonen took his McLaren from 17th at Suzuka to win in 2005.

Close on their tails was the 1973 race at Kyalami when Sir Jackie Stewart won from 16th and Michael Schumacher did the same thing in 1995 at Spa Francorchamps.

Alan Jones and Johnny Herbert won from 14th place in 1977 and 1999 respectively while Bruce McLaren and Alain Prost win from 13th in 1960 and 1990 respectively. Prost did so in Mexico and Bruce in Buenos Aires.

That’s some interesting wins and serious marching through the field. Maybe reversing the grid wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all?


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How do people come up with this stuff? Getting through the back markers are already a problem. Starting the race with them already in front could provide nothing more than track clogging speed bumps to “improve the show”. The slower cars will be obstructions at the start and the next 10 laps until the faster cars are clear of the slower ones then it’s F1 as usual.


We all love a driver who can race his way through the back, but the problem/complaint is it being contrived. What would be your controlling structure for it; championship points, prior race finish?

Shoki Kaneda

What would be the incentive to set fastest time? Why would we not see massive sandbagging? And, as bobmendon noted, when the real leaders clear the field, business as usual.

Gordon Robertson

dumbest idea of all.


Nah,its just ‘another dumb’ idea, you remember knock out quali, drs, radio bans, conning three teams to join the grid using cosworth power and small budgets, celebrity interviewers on the podium, high-deg tyres, banning testing, the list goes on and on

Steve Wyant

Then why have qualifying at all? Just draw starting positions from a hat. Would certainly cut costs…


It is a very stupid idea, just a cheap attempt to make things more random. NOBODY would want pole position and the greatest problem for the top drivers would be to qualify as low as possible while complying with the 107% rule. The only solution would be to eliminate qualifying and form the order by looking at the drivers standings. If you are leading, you get the reward of starting last. No qualifying means no Saturdays and the all-time list of pole-sitters can be deleted. What would be left ? Oh, yes, overtaking back-markers who would have no blue flags… Read more »

Tiago Santos

It’s a lazy way to solve a “problem”. We (fans) don’t want random. We want competition. Fights between top teams for the championship, fights in the midle of the pack, and at the back for points. I think we don’t want to reverse the grid to see how many laps will take for Merc overtaking a Manor…


A – Use Only Qualifying In The Very First And The Very Last Races Of The Season – Usual Grid,

B – In All The Races In Between, Replace Qualifying With FP4, And Decide The Grid Based On The Current WDC Standings,

C – Abolish The Stupid Blue Flags Forever.

GO, 44 !


Maybe they could do a NBA/NHL draft type thing. Do qualifying and the fastest gets the most balls in the bin, reducing the number of balls a driver gets in the bin as you move down the qualifying times. Then you do a lottery to for each grid slot. The fastest time would give you the greatest chance at pole, but not guarantee it. It could make for some interesting grids but also reward those who put in good qualifying performances.


Points would have to be awarded for qualy on exact same basis as for the race so there would be less incentive to sandbag during qualy. Might be interesting to try it out – or at least run it on a simulator a few times at different tracks to see what happens before someone implements it at Melbourne without testing the idea first.

Tim C.

Ahhhhhhhhh!!!!!!! . . . I am so tired of the “spice up the show” reason for doing things. I hate it I tell you . . . just hate it. It does nothing to make things better. In my humble opinion, it just cheapens the competition.