Qatar is set to host its first Grand Prix (GP) event starting on November 21, 2021, and earned a landmark 10-year deal from 2023, as per an announcement by Formula One (F1).
Qatar will fill the vacant spot left by Australia, which canceled its scheduled event due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The race will take place at Losail International Circuit, some 32 km outside of Doha.
F1 said in a statement that Qatar showed a strong will to be helpful to F1, and the vision for a longer partnership was discussed and agreed to have F1 be the showcase for Qatar after the World Cup in 2022.
The race will be followed by the Saudi GP in Jeddah on December 5 before the season ends with the Abu Dhabi race on December 12 – all in 2021.
Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup is blemished by accusations that blue-collar workers working on the stadiums were underpaid, did so under harsh weather conditions and poor security measures, leading to multiple deaths and injuries, according to Human Rights Watch. For years, Qatar has consistently denied the accusations.
The 2022 Qatar GP will not be held because the country is hosting the FIFA World Cup starting November 21, 2022.
The 10-year deal begins from 2023.
Details about the Qatar GP
The inaugural Qatar GP race will take place over the weekend of November 19-21 at the purpose-built Losail International Circuit.
The 16-turn track was built in 2004 and is no stranger to high octane racing, being a permanent fixture on the two-wheeled MotoGP calendar. This year, it’ll host round 20 of the F1 World Championship.
Discussions will continue regarding the location for the GP race from 2023, with further details to be provided at a later time.
Losail already had an FIA Grade 1 License. The governing body, FIA, will complete an inspection, but that’s par for the course for circuits joining the F1 calendar, and the required changes are likely to be minimal.
The main straight is a decent length at just over a kilometer and will provide the location of the circuit’s one Drag Reduction System (DRS) zone. That means the Turn 1 right-hander will be the best opportunity to overtake.
The track hasn’t been resurfaced since 2004, so it has worn and exposed the coarse aggregate. That should mean good grip and levels of abrasiveness with regards to tyre wear.
Cars could reach an average speed of 237km/h in qualifying and 220km/h on race day. In terms of predicted lap time, F1 simulations suggest 1m 22.5s for qualifying and 1m 28.6s for the race, which will last 57 laps.
Losail already has the capability to host a night race, with around 3,600 bulbs across 1,000 structures dotted around the circuit to illuminate the track. At 5.38 km, the lit area covers the same amount of ground as 70 full-size football pitches. Temperatures should be around the mid-20s in degrees Celsius.
If it’s a day race, temperatures will be hot and humid but significantly cooler than in the summer.
Outside motorsport, Qatar has hosted World Championships in athletics, road cycling, and gymnastics, before hosting the FIFA Club World Cup as a dry run ahead of the arrival of the FIFA World Cup late next year.
Saudi’s F1 track still not complete
Saudi is working overtime to prepare for its Formula One debut, an official told France24, with the track still under construction ahead of the race in December.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said organizers were “racing against time” and working “round the clock” in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.
A visit to the track this week showed there was still much work to be done, with buildings under construction and cranes and diggers on site, according to France24.
The floodlit circuit will run over 6.175km, the second-longest on the calendar, and the fastest, and will feature 27 corners.
Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Faisal, president of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, said there was a “huge demand” for tickets, even at a time when travel remains difficult because of the pandemic.
Tickets range from $533 and go up to $9,333.