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Formula 1

Leclerc: Reversing F1 tracks a ‘very cool’ idea

by Matt Beer
3 min read

Charles Leclerc says a Formula 1 race on a reversed track layout would be “very cool” and make relearning the circuit “completely from scratch” a fun challenge.

As F1 weighs up its options for starting the 2020 season following the hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, tracks like the Red Bull Ring and Silverstone have offered their services in unusual ways.

Holding two races at both venues is the most realistic departure from the norm, but both would also be open to midweek grands prix to boost the number of events early in the revised calendar, and Silverstone boss Stuart Pringle did not dismiss alternative layouts or reversing the circuit direction.

Pringle has since clarified to The Race that reversing the grand prix layout is the “most far-fetched” of the options available, because the cost of modifying the existing infrastructure and adding new elements to satisfy safety criteria – as outlined by The Race in the video analysis below – would likely make it a non-starter.

However, Ferrari driver Leclerc is enthusiastic about the prospect, even if it is not imminent.

“That would be very, very cool,” he said. “That would be good.

“I think we’ll all rediscover the track and it will probably be very different also car wise.

“So, this would be an interesting idea.”

Silverstone is one of the best-known circuits on the calendar as a regular on the F1 schedule for the current generation and a common venue for junior categories as well.

But Leclerc said he experienced running a familiar circuit in reverse in his karting days, and described it has having to “relearn the track completely from scratch”.

“To do one track in one way and then do it the other way and from my experience you’re just rediscovering another track,” said Leclerc.

“It’s definitely like you will race on a new track, so it will make things exciting because the drivers with experience maybe will have a bit less knowledge about this track and everyone will start on a more (even) level.

“It will not change the things significantly, I’m pretty sure Lewis (Hamilton) will still be the favourite.

“But I think it will be very exciting to do a track like Silverstone the other way around.

“To arrive so quickly at Becketts, it should be very exciting.”

Charles Leclerc Ferrari F1 Silverstone 2020

Reversing a track layout is not the work of a moment and therefore not entirely suitable to a ‘needs must’ scenario as it would a costly undertaking and only serve a short-term purpose.

Using tracks more than once, however, is more pragmatic and a double-header in Austria is looking more and more likely to hold the season opener, subject to government approval and the ability for teams to travel.

The Red Bull Ring is a favoured venue for the company that owns it, as its F1 team has won there the last two years with Max Verstappen.

Silverstone, meanwhile, is a good hunting ground for Hamilton and Mercedes.

Leclerc said you can “always argue the fairness” over whether multiple races on the same track could suit certain cars more and disadvantage other teams.

“In the end, we mostly need to look at the situation and try to make the most out of the situation,” he said.

“If this will make us race on the same circuits twice, I think we should look at this possibility to try and have the most races possible.”

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