The Macau Grand Prix will kick off its second half-century with a range of improvements to its race programme, including an all-new format for the prestigious Formula Three event that headlines the weekend.

This year's Grand Prix, which takes place over 18-21 November, will feature a ten-lap qualification race to determine grid positions for Sunday's main event. The 'heat' will take place on Saturday afternoon, and any driver retiring will be permitted to start the Grand Prix from the back of the grid, ensuring a full compliment of cars for the 15-lap showdown.

The new format is expected to add to the tension of the weekend, and provide an even bigger incentive for all the teams to push to the max in both the qualification race and Grand Prix itself. In previous years, the Macau event was run over two legs and, under the regulations, the winner must have completed the maximum number of laps in both legs in order to win overall. The format meant that any driver who failed to finish leg one would not be eligible to take overall victory, even if he crossed the finish line first in part two.

"The changes to the format will add tremendously to the excitement of the weekend," commented event co-ordinator Jo?o Manuel Costa Antunes, "The qualification race will be just as hard-fought as the Grand Prix itself, with the drivers going all-out without the fear of retirement precluding them from taking victory on Sunday. It also means that we will have a full grid for Sunday's race, providing the teams are able to repair any damage done on Saturday.

"The new regulations simplify the event for the fans as well. Now, whichever driver crosses the finish line first at the end of Sunday's race is the winner of the Macau Grand Prix. The new format will mean an even more exciting event for spectators, television viewers and drivers - and now it is spread over two days."

Also new to the regulations this year is a rule similar to that used in Formula One, where any team changing an engine during the weekend will be penalised by ten places on the starting grid.

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