SINGAPORE -- Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have launched a scathing attack on a proposal to include reverse-grid qualifying races at select grand prixs in 2020.
F1 is evaluating ideas to inject more excitement and unpredictability into race weekends, and one of the recently proposed ideas ahead of 2020 is to implement Saturday qualifying races as opposed to the current three-session timed format.
The idea is that the championship order would determine the grid for a sprint race on Saturday, with the resulting order determining how the 20 drivers line up for the actual grand prix on Sunday.
But after qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix, a tense session that saw the top three covered by just over 0.2s, both Hamilton and Vettel made their thoughts clearly known.
"I don't really know what to say, to be honest," Hamilton said. "I think people don't really know what they're talking about."
Vettel then spun around, looked at Hamilton and asked, "What did he say?" before adding: "I think it's complete bulls---, to be honest."
At that point, Hamilton burst into laughter, saying, "That's exactly what I said."
Vettel then elaborated on his initial thoughts, explaining the changes would not fix the sport.
"I think it's clear we need to string the field together and have better racing," he said. "I don't know which genius came up with this, but it's not the solution. It's just a plaster."
Charles Leclerc, who beat Hamilton and Vettel to pole position for Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix, also weighed in on the discussion.
The 21-year-old sided with his experienced colleagues, saying it's a path Formula One should not go down.
"I will not be happy," Leclerc said. "I'm a lot happier to start first. I don't think it's the solution for Formula One. The best should win and start in the best place and not reversing the order."
The concept, slated for just three or four races in 2020, is still a long way from being given the green light. Any rule change for next year would require unanimous approval from all teams, but while none of them have ruled out agreeing to the proposal, they are eager to see the results of simulations being run by F1 to determine whether it would be successful.
If it is found to be an avenue worth exploring, unanimous approval could still be challenging given the additional spare parts that would be required for a second race and the associated cost of manufacturing and transporting them to races. There are also further questions surrounding tyre allocations and engine mileage.