Qatar Grand Prix Added To 2021 F1 Calendar Ahead Of Long-Term Deal From 2023 Onwards

Formula One has announced that Losail Circuit will host a maiden Qatar Grand Prix across the weekend of 20-22 November 2021, replacing the cancelled Australian Grand Prix.

Losail is famed for hosting various motorsport events from MotoGP to World Superbikes and even hosted a round in 2009 GP2 Asia series, of which current Red Bull driver – Sergio Perez is the only driver on the current F1 grid to have previously raced around this circuit.

This race however marks the first time that F1 will visit Losail Circuit after the circuit was previously unsuccessfully linked with rumours of being utilised as a pre-season testing venue at various points across the last decade.

Qatar has also been confirmed as hosting a F1 race in a ten-year deal from 2023 season onwards with the exact location set to be unveiled in due course, although returning to Losail on a permanent basis is a possibility.

Speaking on the decision to head to Losail, Qatar for the first time, F1 President and CEO, Stefano Domenicali said: “We are very pleased to welcome Qatar to the Formula 1 calendar this season and for the longer term from 2023.

“The Qatar Motor & Motorcycle Federation and Authorities have been incredible and have moved at great speed to ensure the race can take place this season at the Losail Circuit, famous to many as the host of MotoGP.”

Domenicali also praised all teams alongside personnel in F1 and FIA for pulling together to deliver a 22-race calendar for this season, despite losing several races like Canada, Japan and Australia due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

On the subject of Qatar Grand Prix becoming a regular fixture from 2023 season onwards, Domenicali said: “There was a strong will from Qatar to be helpful to F1, and in the course of this process, the vision for a longer partnership was discussed and agreed for 10 years.

“The step from the gesture to be helpful to F1 in 2021 to a long term strategy was short and simple and the vision for F1 to be the showcase for Qatar after the FIFA World Cup in 2022 was the driving force behind this long term agreement.”

Abdulrahman Al-Mannai, President of Qatar & Motorcycle Federation meanwhile hailed this announcement as “very special” for Qatar Motorsport and the country’s ambitions to host major sporting events – with 2022 FIFA World Cup set to be held in November-December 2022.

Al-Mannai also spoke of feeling “very proud” that the country has stepped in to host a F1 race in a short time frame, whilst also agreeing a proper “long-term deal” for 2023  and across the following ten years.

Here is how the rest of 2021 F1 season set to unfold below, beginning with a trip to Istanbul for Turkish GP before visits to America, Mexico and Brazil ahead of Qatar with Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi rounding out the season.

Race Date
Turkish Grand Prix 8-10 October 2021
US Grand Prix 22-24 October 2021
Mexico City Grand Prix 5-7 November 2021
Sao Paulo Grand Prix 12-14 November 2021
Qatar Grand Prix 19-21 November 2021
Saudi Arabian Grand Prix 3-5 December 2021
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 10-12 December

 

What To Expect?

With races held in Qatar traditionally taking place at night-time under floodlights, F1 fans based in Europe can expect a rare early-evening race with the Grand Prix likely to kick off between 5-7pm in Central Europe (4-6pm for UK based fans).

Losail though contains unique characteristics because although artificial grass is laid around the run-off areas to try and prevent sand from blowing across the track in high winds, there is a possibility that sand can still get on the track and create tyre degradation issues for teams on top of cooler temperatures at night.

High winds meanwhile will certainly provide all 20 drivers with a massive test in terms of setup because nailing the car balance and handling will be key, especially given the possibility of winds hindering them through several fast but twisty corners but could help push cars down the long main straight.

Add in the fact that FP1 and FP3 are likely to be held in late afternoon then FP2 will be absolutely crucial in accurate data gathering, especially ahead of Qualifying as well as the race, which won’t be helped by having just one-hour practice sessions now instead of the former 90 minutes slots.

Qatar therefore will certainly be one to watch and could well be a decisive race in the title fight between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen if tyre management becomes crucial, although reliability is likely to play a big part too come that particular stage of season.

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