The replacement for the canceled Australian Grand Prix has been found: Formula 1 will be driving in Qatar for the first time in November 2021, and for the next few years.
The racing calendar for the current Formula 1 season 2021 is complete: Qatar has been awarded the last vacant seat and, with the Losail International Circuit, is the 20th race in the current schedule of the racing series. The Grand Prix is held as a night race under floodlights.
But the Arab emirate is not just a replacement race for the canceled Australian Grand Prix 2021: Formula 1 and Qatar have signed a ten-year contract from 2023 to 2032.
2022 is deliberately not taken into account: Qatar will then concentrate on the soccer World Cup and will not host a Formula 1 race again until 2023. Then possibly on a completely new racetrack that is already in the planning phase.
The new agreement makes Qatar the fourth permanent Formula 1 venue in the Arabian Peninsula region after Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
Qatar, Formula 1 and FIA are “proud”
Abdulrahman Al-Mannai, President of the Motorsport Federation in Qatar, calls it a “special day for motorsport in Qatar and for our country to host major sporting events”. He goes on to say: “I am very proud that we support Formula 1 and that we can hold a race at short notice, with a long-term Formula 1 contract as well.”
Qatar will host both Formula 1 and MotoGP over the next ten years. “And these are the premier classes in global motorsport,” says Al-Mannai. “We have a proud history in racing and this is now the next chapter.”
Formula 1 sports director Stefano Domenicali particularly emphasizes Qatar’s willingness to get involved in a Grand Prix within a short period of time. The on-site support was “unbelievable”. FIA President Jean Todt is also “proud of this joint achievement” to make the Losail Circuit ready for Formula 1 at short notice.
The Formula 1 calendar 2021 officially stands at 22 races. “That is very impressive in such a difficult year,” says Domenicali. “We can be proud of that.” Because we have shown that we are adaptable. And there is a lot of interest in Formula 1 and some venues that would like to have a Grand Prix. “
The next triple header in the 2021 season
In 2021, three Arabian racetracks will end the season one after the other: Qatar on November 21, Saudi Arabia on December 5 and Abu Dhabi on December 12.
The replacement of Qatar will make things stressful, especially for drivers and teams: On November 21st, Qatar will mark the end of another triple headed game with Mexico (November 7th) and Brazil (November 14th).
Actually, the catch-up date for the Australian Grand Prix was set for November 21st . The race was originally intended as the start of the season, was only postponed due to the Corona and finally canceled completely. This created a gap in the calendar that has now been filled with the Losail Circuit.
Sergio Perez already knows Losail
The racetrack, which opened in 2004 not far from Doha, is 5.380 kilometers long and has been an integral part of the racing calendar in the Motorcycle World Championship (MotoGP) from the very beginning. Formula cars have also been driven there: in 2009 the GP2 Asia made a one-time appearance at the Losail Circuit. Today’s Formula 1 driver Sergio Perez was one of the racing winners.
But Perez admits: “I can hardly remember the track. I only remember: The circuit was very flat because it was built for MotoGP.” He thinks the track will be “good” for Formula 1.
FIA race director Michael Masi and Steve Nielsen, as sports director of Formula 1, saw this for themselves during an on-site visit during the summer break. The world automobile association is said to have applied for some changes, including modifications to the pit entrance, barriers and curbs as well as the construction of new team buildings.
A race distance of 57 laps is set for the Formula 1 premiere in Losail. Only one DRS zone is planned on the almost one kilometer long home straight.