Brawn buoyant over best sprint yet in Brazil ahead of 2022 expansion

By Sports Desk November 17, 2021

Formula One technical director Ross Brawn believes the sprint qualifying race at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix was the best yet ahead of an expansion of the format in 2022.

A dramatic race weekend in Brazil saw Max Verstappen top qualifying on Friday, Valtteri Bottas win the sprint event to claim pole position on Saturday, before Lewis Hamilton triumphed in a thrilling main event on Sunday.

Hamilton had started the sprint at the back of the grid and charged all the way up to fifth to improve his grid position for the main race, which he ultimately battled to win from 10th after a grid penalty.

His move up the field was the highlight of an entertaining sprint that had more fireworks than the previous two held in 2021 at Monza and Silverstone.

The sprint schedule also leads to more meaningful action on the Friday, when qualifying takes place rather than the normal practice sessions.

"Saturday's F1 Sprint was, in my view, the best one of the three," Brawn wrote in his column for the F1 website. "It had plenty of action, with loads of battles – including Lewis carving his way through the field. 

"It was a great Saturday afternoon of entertainment, an appetiser for the main course on Sunday.

"We had a fabulous Friday, too, with a dramatic qualifying session. It can never be underestimated how much of an impact the Sprint has on a Friday.

"With only one hour of practice, it creates some jeopardy heading into the rest of the weekend, as the teams are not as prepared as they can be."

Brawn has previously revealed F1 plans to double the number of sprint race weekends to six in 2022 and are pondering some small but significant changes.

Presently points are only awarded to the top three drivers in the sprint but that could be increased to the top 10 to align with the main race and encourage more daring overtakes further down the field.

New cars that promote overtaking are already coming in for next year, while Brawn has accepted that the formal award of pole position should come after Friday qualifying rather than for the Saturday sprint.

He added on Wednesday: "We think the foundations are very strong for the Sprint and will be presenting more details of our plans for six events in 2022 in the coming weeks in discussions with the FIA and the teams.

"There are things we need to tweak but Brazil showed the Sprint is a great addition to the weekend. 

"It has made Friday, Saturday and Sunday big moments that are exciting for all of us."

There are three races to go in the F1 season, with Verstappen leading Hamilton by 14 points going into the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix this week, with the constructors' championship also finely poised.

"We're seeing a titanic battle for this year's two championships," added Brawn.

"The race in Brazil was just another twist in an engrossing tale. It’s been fantastic. No one knows what will happen next.

"We have got two new venues to visit in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, before heading to the finale in Abu Dhabi where the circuit has had a series of modifications. The stage is set."

Related items

  • Espargaro confirmed to have fractured heel, does not require surgery Espargaro confirmed to have fractured heel, does not require surgery

    MotoGP title hopeful Aleix Espargaro is confirmed to have fractured his heel during a highside at Silverstone.

    The Aprilia rider suffered the injury during the final free practice session at the British MotoGP on Saturday and was stretchered away from the scene before hobbling to the medical tent.

    Espargaro returned for Saturday's qualifying session and secured sixth place, taking his place on the second row on Sunday following doubts over whether he would be fit to race.

    The 33-year-old was unable to compete for the win but secured a ninth-placed finish, picking up seven points and coming in just behind title rival Fabio Quartararo – who he trails by 22 points in the standings.

    Espargaro has now been prescribed a week of rest, during which time he will have to use crutches, but the Spaniard does not require surgery.

    With Espargaro carrying an injury and Quartararo having to serve a long-lap penalty, Francesco Bagnaia took the victory at Silverstone for the second race in a row to boost his title hopes.

    The MotoGP season continues from August 19-21 in Austria.

    A great launch from @FabioQ20 saw Maverick squeezed into a gap that was closing quickly! #BritishGP ?? pic.twitter.com/i9kiaQHJ3o

    — MotoGP (@MotoGP) August 7, 2022
  • Hamilton: 'Worst fears came alive' in controversial Abu Dhabi title controversy Hamilton: 'Worst fears came alive' in controversial Abu Dhabi title controversy

    Lewis Hamilton has opened up on his emotions following the controversial end to the 2021 Formula One season, admitting his "worst fears came alive" in Abu Dhabi.

    The Mercedes driver was at the tail-end of a fierce battle with Red Bull's Max Verstappen for the championship in last year's finale, knowing a record eighth world title would be clinched if he finished ahead of his rival.

    On lap 53, Hamilton led but drama would soon erupt as Williams' Nicholas Latifi crashed into the barrier at the exit of turn 14 and the safety car was deployed.

    Under FIA guidelines, lapped cars are allowed to overtake behind the safety car but that guidance was not followed by race director Michael Masi, who instead only allowed the cars between Verstappen and Hamilton to move through.

    Verstappen, having pitted, then completed an overtake of a defenceless Hamilton at the restart to clinch his maiden title.

    The controversy that followed rumbled on for months, with Masi departing his role prior to the start of the 2022 season, and Hamilton has now spoken about his feelings regarding the incident.

    "You see things start to unfold and my worst fears came alive," he told Vanity Fair.

    "I was like, there's no way they're going to cheat me out of this. There's no way. That won't happen. Surely not.

    "I don't know if I can really put into words the feeling that I had. I do remember just sitting there just in disbelief. 

    "And realizing I've got to undo my belts, I've got to get out of there, I've got to climb out of this thing, I've got to find the strength. I had no strength.  And it was one of the toughest moments, I would say, that I've had in a long, long time.

    "I knew what had happened. I knew what decisions had been made and why. Yes, I knew that something wasn't right."

    Ahead of the 2022 season, questions were raised whether Hamilton would return to the grid, and he admits that he considered retirement.

    "I, for sure, considered whether I wanted to continue," he confirmed.

    Hamilton did return, racing alongside new teammate George Russell, but has not been able to compete for the crown, instead encountering numerous issues with Mercedes unable to compete with Red Bull and Ferrari at the start of the season.

    Better fortune was found ahead of F1's summer break, with back-to-back podium finishes for both drivers, but Hamilton remains 112 points adrift of Verstappen in the standings.

  • Zarco 'surprised' by Silverstone crash as he misses out on first win Zarco 'surprised' by Silverstone crash as he misses out on first win

    Johann Zarco was "surprised" by his crash at Silverstone that denied him the chance to secure a first MotoGP victory.

    The Pramac Racing driver started the British Grand Prix on pole as the season resumed following a five-week break and was able to maintain his lead in the early laps of the race.

    A crash at turn eight on lap five ended that charge, however, with Zarco initially continuing but later returning to the pits and retiring from the race.

    It was the eighth time in the premier class that Zarco has failed to turn pole position into a victory, and he felt his tyres were the reason why he missed out again.

    "The warm temperature pushed me to take this medium front – that was a good tyre anyway because Pecco [Francesco Bagnaia] won on it, but it seemed for me, it was the reason of the crash, because there’s always a bit less grip with this tyre," he said.

    "But I was too worried to go with the soft one and not finish the race on a good pace, overall. The medium one, I knew it pretty well, so that's why I was quite confident, and the first laps were pretty good.

    "But I was surprised in that Turn 8. And clearly I'm disappointed, and it's pretty hard to put all the things together to put the victory."

    Zarco's failure to finish saw him drop to fifth in the championship standings, now sitting 66 points behind leader Fabio Quartararo - with Sunday's race at Silverstone being a missed opportunity to close the gap, as the Monster Energy Yamaha rider only finished eighth after having to serve an early long-lap penalty.

    The championship standings do not paint a pretty picture for the Frenchman, but he believes further opportunities will arise.

    "I hope I will be in good form again in Austria, because what I could feel during this weekend and even during the race helped me to grow on the Ducati and get even more feeling as I want," he added.

    "So, yeah, the most positive of today is this feeling that I could take during the race, and understand even more this tyre that sometimes seems a tricky choice, because for nothing you can be hero or zero."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.