Formula One's inaugural Qatar Grand Prix takes place this weekend, with the teams travelling to Losail International Circuit for round 20 of the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship. Located 22 miles north of the capital city of Doha, the circuit is well versed in hosting high-speed racing, having become a permanent fixture on the MotoGP calendar in 2004. Several adaptations have been made ahead of Formula One's maiden outing, with a new pitlane entrance and additional safety measures welcoming the sport.
The final race of the season's third triple header will see the FW43B illuminated beneath Losail International Circuit's lights, as the car makes its way around the fast and flowing 5.38km circuit whilst the sun sets. The main straight, at just over one kilometre long, will feature the track's only DRS zone, providing ample overtaking opportunities into Turn 1. A full capacity crowd is expected to attend, undoubtedly creating an excitable atmosphere for the country's first Formula One Grand Prix.
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance: The final event of this triple-header brings us to a new Formula One venue. The Losail International Circuit, located outside Doha in Qatar, was opened in 2004 and has hosted numerous high-level motorsport Championship events. The circuit is 5.38km long and has 16 corners, many of which are high speed. There is only a single straight and DRS zone, which will limit overtaking opportunities. However, the flowing cornering sequence from Turn 4 to Turn 14 will be enjoyed by most drivers and will allow them to showcase what current F1 cars are capable of.
The circuit is expected to be demanding on the tyres and although the main competitive sessions will take place in the evening, the hot conditions will ensure that the track remains warm even after the sun has set. With only a single straight, the energy through the tyres is relentless and this is likely to be a feature of the race. Pirelli have brought their hardest compounds to Losail and they will probably suit the track well.
Following the Sprint Event last week in Interlagos, we return to a traditional format this weekend, which will give the drivers more opportunity to assess the track before committing to a set-up. It is likely that all drivers will want to maximise their time on track during Friday's practice sessions as they come to terms with the subtleties of the circuit. As FP2 is the only evening practice session, this will be the key session for understanding how to manage the tyres and optimise the set-up. We are looking forward to tackling another new circuit.
George Russell: It is always very exciting to visit new tracks, so I am looking forward to heading to the Losail International Circuit in Qatar this weekend. I've driven the layout in the simulator at Grove and I think it has a very nice flow to it, with lots of medium and high-speed corners. When these are coupled with the long straight, I think it will offer a lot of variability in terms of set-up options for all teams and therefore means that if you get it right the rewards could be great.
Nicholas Latifi: I'm really looking forward to the challenge of going to a new track and racing at Losail International Circuit. Formula One has never been to Qatar before, so all of us in the team will have to get up to speed without the historical data that we usually have, but that will be a nice challenge. We're going to be visiting Qatar regularly as it will be on the calendar from 2023 onwards, and so it will be an interesting opportunity to explore the local area as it will also be my first time in the country. We have a couple of new races coming up now, with this event followed by Saudi Arabia, so I'm excited to experience some brand new Grands Prix.