Brazil confirmed as final sprint qualifying event

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The Sao Paulo Grand Prix in Brazil scheduled to take place in November will be the third and final race to be held using the new sprint qualifying format, it has been confirmed.

The new-look approach sees Friday hold a single practice session followed by qualifying in the afternoon. That sets the starting order for a short 30-minute race on Saturday afternoon deciding the grid for Sunday's full Grand Prix.

Initially set to be rolled out at Montreal, the cancellation of the Canadian round meant that the new system was given its maiden outing at the British Grand Prix last month and was widely hailed as a success.

The new format is intended to shake up the established way of doing things and add more excitement to the build-up to the main race by ensuring meaningful running on each day.

“The result of that first event has been very positive," Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali told investors earlier this month in quotes reported by the Dutch edition of

Now the second sprint qualifying event will take place at Monza next month, and now Brazil has been confirmed for the third and final planned trial of 2021 with a focus on choosing events with the most favourable timezones for the US market.

“When we talk about the sprint race format, the idea was to offer something different to all stakeholders in F1,” Domenicali noted.

“We said we wanted to do tests this year," he continued. "One has already been done at Silverstone, another will be at Monza, and the third will be in Brazil at the end of the season.

"After this test we will see what the next step will be," he added, keeping the door open on making the new sprint qualifying format a permanent part of the F1 experience in 2022 and beyond.

“We will have a full evaluation at the end of the season,” Domenicali said. “Of course, we have a plan for the future.

“We are developing and refining it after the comments we have received," he continued. "We are ready to prepare a proposal at the end of the three sprint races, which will hopefully be a big step and a different future of F1.”

The only potential problem to the plan to hold the final trial at Interlagos is the current state of COVID-19 in the country.

The local organisers have requested a one week delay to the scheduling of the race because of the current coronavirus situation in Brazil.

“If this request is accepted, for us, the inflow of revenue in the city and in the state increases a lot,” explained João Doria, the governor of São Paulo.

“We may have an expansion of up to 25 percent in Formula 1 revenue in São Paulo, reaching $140 million in tickets in the city and this also generates more jobs.”

But he ruled out any possibility that the race would be cancelled.

“There is no such expectation," he insisted. “I even spoke with the F1 director [Domenicali], there is no possibility. Only if there is an unexpected situation in every way.

"It will be mandatory to wear a mask for training, the sprint race in the race on Sunday. The temperature will also be measured for all people, professionals, technicians, runners, mechanics, assistants, as well as service providers

"We are very calm about the F1 realisation. It only remains to confirm the date.”

That confirmation is expected to come on Thursday. Otherwise, F1 will need to come up with a potential replacement if Interlagos proves to be unable to host a race.

The United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas is an obvious candidate if that needs to happen.

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