The Qatar Grand Prix could potentially stay at the Losail International Circuit beyond 2021 if this weekend’s event proves to be a success.
Formula 1 announced that Qatar would join the calendar in late September, filling a gap in the schedule created by cancellations relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. There will then be a year without the race before it starts a 10-year deal in 2023, with the initial suggestion being that it could take place on a circuit designed specifically for F1.
Whether that would be a street track or a new venue remains to be seen, but Amro Al-Hamad, executive director at the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation, says Losail needs to be judged as a host circuit first.
“Lots of people have said ‘Oh, Losail is not going to be a good venue for racing, it’s a fast track, it’s designed for MotoGP’ and this is exactly like me refusing to eat broccoli even before I tasted it,” Al-Hamad told RACER. “Nobody has been here, they’ve never tested, they don’t know what the tire strategies will be or the set-up for the cars – nobody has any data that is relevant.
“The fastest car that we drove here is, I drive a Radical SR3, and that’s the fastest thing that’s been here in the past couple of years. So nobody knows exactly what type of data they’ll be looking at, what kind of strategies…
“People say ‘Oh there’s no place to overtake’. I can now think off the top of my head there are three spots, at least, for overtaking. The set-up in terms of downforce levels, the tire management, it’s completely different. It’s a Christmas gift that nobody knows what’s inside and they’re starting to already speculate ‘probably I’m going to like it 7/10’. Just wait until you come here!.”
Al-Hamad said that once there is a baseline for how well Losail works as an F1 venue, organizers can start planning for what they will do from 2023 onwards.
“It’s still up in the air because we’re just concentrating right now what we’re doing with the event this weekend,” he said. “Once we get the time to breathe and expend our territorial thoughts, we will try to find out what we have and will come up with plans.
“Absolutely, (Losail could remain as host), yeah, definitely. Like I said, we don’t know. We don’t have data, probably once we get data we’ll weigh up our options – are we going to keep the track as it is? Are we going to do some changes to some of the corners, break up the speed and so on?
“It’s something that even now we didn’t even start to think about in silence. We still didn’t get the actual time, we’re trying to not be so fast and jump to conclusions, we’re going to wait and then weigh up our options in the near future.”