The entire race weekend format has been shaken up to accommodate the new format, which will be used at three grands prix this season as an initial trial, with the first having taken place at the British GP in July and the second at the Italian GP in September.
Lewis Hamilton went fastest in qualifying ahead of the Brazilian GP sprint race, beating F1 world title rival Max Verstappen by a considerable 0.438 seconds.
But, while the Mercedes driver will serve a five-place grid penalty for an engine change for Sunday’s grand prix, Hamilton is also under investigation for a DRS technical infringement which could see him excluded from the qualifying results, meaning he would start the sprint race from the back of the grid.
Valtteri Bottas claimed third place in qualifying ahead of the other Red Bull of Sergio Perez, as Pierre Gasly once again topped the ‘best of the rest’ midfield fight for AlphaTauri in fifth place.
Gasly led the two Ferraris of Carlos Sainz Jr in sixth and Charles Leclerc in seventh, who in turn qualified for the sprint race ahead of McLaren duo Lando Norris in eighth and Daniel Ricciardo in ninth, as Fernando Alonso rounded out the top 10 for Alpine.
Carlos Sainz Jr., McLaren MCL34
Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images
What is F1’s sprint race?
F1’s sprint race is essentially a shortened version of a normal race, run over a shorter 100km distance and with no mandatory pitstops, compared to F1’s usual 305km grand prix distance (with the exception of the Monaco GP). Here’s a full explanation on how F1’s sprint qualifying race will work.
Sprint races are used in many other series to spice up the action, including in F1’s feeder series Formula 2, albeit with variants of its own. For example, in F2 the sprint race is 120km and the feature race covers 170km, though are usually no less exciting.
F1’s first-ever sprint race, which took place at Silverstone, was won by Verstappen ahead of Hamilton. The Dutch driver overtook his world title rival on the opening lap before defending his position to gain the official pole position for the grand prix, and three world championship points for winning the sprint, after Hamilton started on pole for the sprint race. Hamilton picked up two points for finishing runner-up in the sprint, with team-mate Valtteri Bottas gaining one point for finishing in third place.
In F1’s second sprint race at Monza, Valtteri Bottas won the sprint from Verstappen and McLaren’s Ricciardo, but the Finn started the grand prix from the back of the gird due to a power unit change penalty.
F1’s sprint event on Saturday afternoon will be a straightforward 100km race, which tallies up to 24 laps at Interlagos, with the finishing order setting the final grid for the grand prix on Sunday after grid penalties are applied. The race is expected to last around 30 minutes, ‘timed out’ after 60 minutes in total and if the session is red-flagged the maximum total time of the session will be 90 minutes.
The starting order for the sprint event was decided by qualifying, run in the traditional Q1, Q2 and Q3 format, held on Friday evening. The only major change will be the drivers will only use soft tyres for the session.
Two practice sessions will also be run at the Brazilian GP, one before qualifying on Friday and one on Saturday before the sprint race later that afternoon.
Drivers will also have a free choice of tyres for the sprint race with Pirelli providing a soft, medium and hard (at Interlagos this will be the middle three options in its range: C2, C3 and C4) as well as intermediate and wet weather tyres if needed.
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W12, and Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF21
Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images
What time does the sprint race start at the Brazilian GP?
The sprint race for the Brazilian GP starts at 4.30pm local time (7.30pm GMT) on Saturday 13th November and is expected to last 30 minutes.
Date: Saturday 13th November 2021
Start time: 4.30pm local time – 7.30pm GMT
How many laps will the sprint race be at the Brazilian GP?
24 laps – Interlagos
With the F1 sprint qualifying races covering 100km, it adds up to 24 laps of Interlagos’ 4.309km grand prix circuit layout.
Do points get awarded for the sprint races?
F1 world championship points will also be up for grabs in the F1 sprint race. The winner will claim three points, with the runner-up taking two points and third place gaining one point. There will be no bonus point for the fastest lap.
In Sunday’s main event at the Brazilian GP, the regular points scoring system will remain in place for both the drivers’ and constructors’ world championships, including the bonus point for fastest lap for a driver finishing inside the top 10.
Pole man Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W12, and Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, arrive in Parc Ferme after Qualifying
Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images
How can I watch the Brazilian GP sprint race?
In the United Kingdom every F1 practice, qualifying and race is broadcast live on Sky Sports F1, with the Brazilian GP sprint race coverage starting at 6.30pm GMT.
- Channel: Sky Sports F1
- Start time: 6:30pm GMT
Autosport will also be running a live text coverage of the Brazilian GP sprint race here.
When can I watch the highlights of the Brazilian GP sprint race?
In the United Kingdom Channel 4 is broadcasting highlights for the Brazilian GP sprint race at 11:20pm GMT on Saturday. The full programme will run for 90 minutes, covering both qualifying, the sprint race and wrapping up the major talking points of the race weekend so far.
- Channel: Channel 4
- Start time: 11:20pm GMT
Will the Brazilian GP sprint race be on the radio?
Live radio coverage of every practice, qualifying and race for the 2021 F1 season will be available on the BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC 5 Live Sports Extra or via the BBC Sport website.
Coverage of the Brazilian GP sprint race will start at 7:30pm GMT on the BBC Sport website.
What’s the weather forecast for the Brazilian GP sprint race?
Sunny conditions but with cloudy spells are forecast for Saturday afternoon at Interlagos, with a very low chance of rain. Temperatures are set to be 18 degrees Celsius at the start of the sprint race.
Brazilian Grand Prix sprint race starting order