Mark Sadler sent a message to Bernie Ecclestone that said:
Having read several stories about the possibility of F1 using reverse grids, I thought I would email an idea I have been considering which I believe is better than reverse grids and which will create more exciting races.
The underlying idea is to effectively penalise the drivers that are leading the championship in qualifying.
This would be done in a similar way to the current mechanism for penalising grid position when too many engines/gearboxes are used.
Qualifying would be run as today. A championship penalty would then be applied - each driver is penalised by the number of drivers that are behind them in the championship. For example the championship leader would be penalised 19 places, 2nd 18 places, the driver last in the championship would be penalised 0 places.
The consequence is that if every driver qualifies in their current championship position there would be no effect. Running this algorithm on races from previous years, a typical result is that those leading the championship are positioned in the middle of the grid.
I think this is better than a reverse grid, because it keeps the pressure on those fighting for the championship to qualify well, but they are not able to simply drive away in the race even if they have a car advantage. Teams and drivers that are unlucky (or unreliable) will tend to start at the front of the grid and therefore get more coverage and a chance for a good result. Teams/drivers that mess up qualifing will start right at the back.
As an example here is the grid as it would have been for the 2019 French Grand Prix.
Qual Posn Championship Penalty Result Name
1 19 20 Hamilton
2 18 20 Bottas
3 15 18 Leclerc
4 16 20 Verstappen
5 8 13 Norris
6 13 19 Sainz
7 17 24 Vettel
8 12 20 Ricciardo
9 14 23 Gasly
10 2 12 Giovinazzi
11 5 16 Albon
12 9 21 Raikkonen
13 7 20 Hulkenberg
14 10 24 Perez
15 11 26 Magnussen
16 6 22 Kyyat
17 3 20 Grosjean
18 4 22 Stroll
19 1 20 Russell
20 0 20 Kubica
So the resulting grid would be:-
At this race Kvyat and Russelll received engine penalties - these penalties would be applied after the positions are determined following the championship penalities.
The only special case is the first race of the year, when the grid would be determined as it is today.