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Motor racing-Mercedes blocked reverse grid 'gimmick', says Wolff

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ByReuters
03/06/2020 at 18:11 | Updated 03/06/2020 at 20:19

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LONDON, June 3 (Reuters) - Mercedes blocked a proposal to have reverse-grid qualifying races in Formula One because they felt it was a gimmick that could affect the championship outcome, team boss Toto Wolff said on Wednesday.

The idea was put forward as a way of making back-to-back races at the same circuit less predictable and more entertaining.

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Austria's Red Bull Ring and Britain's Silverstone circuit are each due to hold two races in July and August respectively as Formula One seeks to make up time lost to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It seems to be a common pattern in Formula One that we're digging out old ideas that have been analysed thoroughly and rejected," Wolff told reporters on a Zoom call.

"We don't need a gimmick to turn the field around to create more exciting racing."

The Austrian also expressed concern at how the strategy might evolve, and the risk of a team securing pole for the second race thanks to an early retirement in the first.

Wolff said a qualifying race could turn into a real battle, with more risk in overtaking "that could influence the championship".

"It's a bit of an opportunistic move to give some teams an advantage," he added.

Mercedes have won the last six drivers' and constructors' championships, with Lewis Hamilton chasing his seventh this season to equal Michael Schumacher's record.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner, whose team have won the last two races in Austria, had backed the reverse grid proposal and said Formula One had a perfect opportunity to experiment. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond)

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