The United States Grand Prix is a potential race that is under strong consideration for the third sprint qualifying trial this season.
Formula 1 is running a new race weekend format at three events this year, where qualifying will take place on a Friday afternoon and set the grid for a sprint race — known as sprint qualifying — on Saturday. The result of sprint qualifying then sets the grid for the main grand prix itself, with the intention to provide more meaningful running on each day of the race weekend.
The first two races are already confirmed, with Silverstone hosting the first trial at the July 16-18 British GP, and then Monza also being used in September. However, the third venue is unconfirmed and had looked likely to be Brazil, but RACER understands Austin could also be selected.
Circuit of The Americas is set to enjoy a full crowd in late October and could potentially host back-to-back races following the cancellation of the Singapore Grand Prix, but a sprint qualifying format trial in Texas is also under strong consideration.
F1’s managing director of motorsports Ross Brawn is keen for the final race to be early enough in the season to avoid a potential situation where a title could be won in the sprint rather than a grand prix.
“We were trying to avoid that if I’m honest, because we don’t know yet how successful this format will be and it could be a title decider in the long term, in that the 3-2-1 points which are scored on a Saturday could decide it; but we probably want to avoid the title being decided on a Saturday,” Brawn said.
“If we went to the last race and one driver could win the championship on a Saturday by winning a sprint event…. That can be an added dimension, but I think we’re just trying to avoid it while we’re trying to understand how successful it is and what part it will play in the future.
“COVID is the complication, and we want to pick an event ideally a few races before the end of the season. We also want to pick tracks where we think the racing can take place in a short format; there’s overtaking opportunities, maybe tracks where a little bit of tire degradation comes into play — not enough to make a pit stop necessarily but enough to make it interesting towards the end of the race — so those are the factors we’re considering.
“Brazil is a possibility and there are one or two others that are a possibility, but we’re looking at something before the end of the season. I don’t think we want to do the last race.”