Qatar GP: Preview - Pirelli

16/11/2021
NEWS STORY

For the very first Qatar Grand Prix, held over 57 laps, Pirelli's C1 compound has been chosen as the P Zero White hard, C2 as the P Zero Yellow medium and C3 as the P Zero Red soft. This is the fifth and last time this year that the three hardest compounds in the range have been nominated.

Existing data and simulations from teams point to Losail being a high-severity circuit with very demanding corners - similar to Silverstone or Mugello - and quite aggressive asphalt. The grip might also be affected by sand from the desert surrounding the track. With Qatar also being a completely new venue for Formula 1, Pirelli has opted for the three hardest compounds: capable of handling all of Losail's varied demands.

Track Characteristics

There's a start-finish straight that's just over a kilometre long, but also a quick succession of 16 corners to make up the rest of the lap, which means that the tyres are always working hard. This is expected to lead to a reasonably high degree of degradation.

The track still has its original surface from 2004, which offers high grip and has become quite abrasive over time, accentuating wear and degradation.

Despite the presence of strategically-placed artificial grass around the circuit to keep away the sand from the desert, the asphalt could still become very dusty thus affecting grip.

Turns 12 to 14 form a triple-apex right-hander, making up almost a single high-energy 5.2g corner that is slightly reminiscent of the famous Turn 8 in Turkey - only in the opposite direction.

Qatar is just one of four races held in the evening under floodlights this year. This means that the evolution of track temperature over the course of the grand prix should be quite different compared to a standard afternoon race, with the potential for a big drop-off as the race goes on. In the desert, there's a big difference in temperature between day and night. While the race takes place at 5pm local time, FP1 and FP3 happens during the heat of the day, so only FP2 and qualifying provide a truly representative picture of the likely race conditions.

There are no support races at all on the schedule and the circuit hasn't been used a lot recently, which will mean that there's no rubber laid down prior to F1 cars running. As a result drivers can expect a slippery track at first and a high degree of track evolution. The surface could also be 'reset' by sand blowing onto the track over the weekend.

Mario Isola: "Qatar will provide a thrilling new challenge at a unique venue with its own special character, so we're very much looking forward to our first visit. Coming to a new circuit isn't a novel experience for us though, and we rely on simulation data as well as track information that we collect in advance to select the nomination that will be used. We haven't had the chance to measure the roughness of the asphalt with our instruments but the promoter provided us with very useful information on the asphalt characteristics. From what we can see, the hardest tyres in the range will be well-suited to Losail, due to the quite abrasive asphalt and the very demanding corners. But as we've never actually raced there before, we'll only get a true picture of how the tyres really work on this circuit once we arrive."

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Published: 16/11/2021
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