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F1: Belgian Grand Prix 2022 - The Universe has spoken.

Bryan Edwards

The world, or universe, has a funny way of shaking things out in the style of "How I met your mother." Today, there is a perfect example of how it happens.

For some time, there has been a suggestion that Formula One could be shaken up by having the faster cars start at the back. It's called a "reverse grid". For all kinds of reasons, this is impractical to legislate for.

For those who don't know the first thing about motor-racing, here's a quick explanation of two of its complexities. The starting order is set by a period of qualifying. The fastest in qualifying, or qually, start at the front. The slowest start at the back. The order in between is set by each competitor's time relative to the fastest, who holds "pole position."

Formula One is an insanely expensive example of an insanely expensive sport. There's a truism: how do you make a small fortune in motor racing? Start with a large one. As an attempt to contain costs, teams are required to use no more than a set number of certain specified components. Once they have used them all up, whenever they bring a new component into the "pool," they suffer a penalty in the form of places on the grid. The smallest penalty is 5 places so a car that qualifies fifth will start tenth.

Teams know they are going to need more components before the end of the season so they strategically add more parts to the pool, and suffer penalties, at circuits that they think favour their cars or drivers. So after the first six or seven races, there's always someone taking a penalty.

Spa-Francochamps in Belgium is special because it's a long circuit (more than seven km) with a design that provides plenty of overtaking opportunities. So all the fastest teams think they can start lower down and make their way through the pack, easily disposing of the slower cars in the first few laps.

And so the grid for today's race sees four of the six fastest qualifiers starting at the back. Obviously they can't all start last so there is some complicated formula to give order to the back but the bottom line is this:

The Belgian Grand Prix 2002 will have, more or less, a reverse grid.

The Universe has spoken.

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