Updated: Feb 28, 2022
Written by Danny Jones, Edited by Morgan Holiday
Qatar is poised to become the 33rd nation that F1 has visited, replacing the cancelled Australian Grand Prix. The Losail International Circuit will also become the 74th venue to host a Grand Prix, and the 3rd in the Middle East.
The Losail International Circuit, north of Qatar’s capital, Doha, was constructed in 2004, and MotoGP held its first race in the country that same year, with World Superbikes arriving the year after. Losail has been a permanent fixture on the MotoGP calendar, and has traditionally served as the season opener, holding 2 events in the 2021 season.
However, aside from 2 wheels, Losail hasn’t had many car races in its history, with the World Touring Car Championship visiting on 3 occasions between 2015 and 2017, the MRF Challenge in 2014, Porsche Cup Middle East in 2016 and GP2 Asia in 2009. The only current car racing it holds is the Qatar Touring Car Championship.
F1 would compete over 57 laps of the 5.38km circuit, with the main overtaking opportunity being provided at T1, after a straight which exceeds 1km in distance. Unsurprisingly, the current lap record of a 1:35.741 held by ex-F1 driver Nico Hülkenberg is likely to be smashed, with lap times predicted in the 1:27 region. Only 2 current F1 drivers have previously raced at the circuit, with Sergio Perez picking up a win and a 2nd place in the 2009 GP2 Asia Series, and Nikita Mazepin, who raced there in the MRF Challenge in 2014.
Qatar hosts all its races under the lights, since they were installed to the track in 2007, with F1 set to be no exception, and will join its neighbours Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, and Saudi Arabia, in racing in the night.
F1 is set to race in Qatar on the 21st November, as F1 looks for solutions to replace the cancelled Australian and Japanese Grand Prix, and will certainly be an interesting spectacle if F1 arrives.