Start, GP2 Asia, Losail, 2009

Losail venue may prove temporary as F1 inks long-term deal to race in Qatar

2021 F1 season

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Formula 1 announced today it will race in Qatar for the first time this November.

While it won’t have a place on the 2022 F1 calendar, due to the FIFA football World Cup, it will return the year after to kick off a 10-year deal to race in the country.

To begin with the series will race at the Losail International Circuit. Built in 2004, the 5.4-kilometre course sits just outside the town of Lusail. However, by far the closest large settlement is Doha, the Qatari capital, to which Lusail is effectively joined in a continuous run of developments.

Set into the desert, Losail is just in land from the Persian Gulf. By the time F1 arrives, in November, temperatures should be relatively cool; around 26C as a high rather than the high thirties of the summer, although humidity should be kept fairly high by its proximity to the sea.

The circuit has a full lighting rig for night racing. Although temperatures should be cool enough for F1 to race in the day it is expected to make use the lighting this year. As is the case for other races in the region in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi, a later start time suits European television schedules better.

Losail International Circuit, Qatar
Track data: Losail International Circuit
Losail is a motorbike track, regularly hosting Moto GP rounds and having opened. At its first event in 2004 Valentino Rossi was penalised when his team were caught cleaning his grid spot by using a scooter to lay down rubber on his grid spot, in the sandy conditions at the track (rival Max Biaggi received the same penalty for a similar infraction).

As to be expected, Losail is usually dusty and dry. In 2018 Moto GP tested the track with sprinklers, artificially creating a wet track – something Bernie Ecclestone once suggested could be done to enliven F1. Although the experiment wasn’t repeated under race conditions, riders did agree the track was usable in the wet, under floodlights.

Few major four-wheeled series have made a long-term home at the track. It held the final rounds of the World Touring Car Championship in the last three seasons before the championship ended in 2017. The tin-tops put on some exciting races, held under spotlights, featuring late-race battles around the right-hand sequence through turns 13, 14 and 15. Expect the F1 cars to impress through these quick turns.

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Single-seater action has been even thinner on the ground. It held one of the three races in the short life of GP Masters, a championship for ex-Formula 1 drivers, won by Nigel Mansell.

The track is most commonly used for bike racing
A single round of the GP2 Asia championship was held at Losail in 2009. Sergio Perez finished second in the feature race and victory in the sprint event. However the only current F1 driver to have raced at the track is unlikely to gain a significant advantage from his experience.

“I hardly remember the circuit,” Perez admitted. “I remember it was very smooth because it was done for Moto GP. It was very smooth. I think it would be a good place but I hardly remember the circuit, to be honest.”

The track record was set that weekend by another future F1 racer, Nico Hulkenberg, with a lap of 1’35.741 in the 600bhp junior series car. He reeled off an emphatic win in the main event ahead of Perez, Vitaly Petrov, Kamui Kobayashi and Jerome D’Ambrosio.

Losail has not been significantly altered since it was built. But while the layout has proved well-suited for bike racing, it may not be the case for F1’s considerably quicker cars.

RaceFans understands the track is not expected to remain as the long-term venue for F1 in Qatar unless its layout is revised. A likely alternative would be a street race in the nearby city of Doha.

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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40 comments on “Losail venue may prove temporary as F1 inks long-term deal to race in Qatar”

  1. It’s rights out and away we go

    1. No, the lights has to be on :)

    2. 👌🤣

    3. LOLOLOLOLOL comment of the year!

    4. @sjaakfoo , @tifoso1989

      F1 #WeRaceAsOne motto in Qatar ????? Sorry to write about this but how does that work?

      What Liberty Media proclaims in their PR machine this entire season and what they believe in seems to be two very different and distinct things for the American company Liberty Media.

      I’m a little confused that F1-Liberty is embracing Qatar.

      Essentially the people that the #WeRaceAsOne organization & movement that are trying to defend and speak up for are the exact same people that the country of Qatar deems as criminals & totally illegal and they enforce it by giving them long prison sentences in a brutal judicial jail system. Which Liberty doesn’t seem to oppose as Action speaks louder than words.

      Liberty is loudly proving money trumps human rights and they really don’t not stand behind what they say. They just proved the motto #WeRaceAsOne means nothing to them. I understand big companies going where the money is but at least do it with some integrity and not be two faced; why bother promoting something you don’t stand for?

      @red-andy Actions like this show that Liberty Media & F1 could appear to have be manipulating and exploiting the #WeRaceAsOne movement and the people it speaks up for, for their own gain in popularity ($$$$$) in other countries where it gets traction.

      Liberty heavily advertised #WeRaceAsOne at every single race, it is the biggest campaign promotion outside of racing that F1 has ever taken, they promoted the hell out of it on their website, they promote it on television and heavily at the races and on the cars but then they sign a long term contract and shake the hands of people who will arrest anyone that #WeRaceAsOne movement is trying to defend and stand up for.

      Sorry to have written this post on a racing forum, would much rather talk about racing and the cars but Liberty has started something that they have been promoting to us fans at every race.

      It’s more than disingenuous, it’s very harmful and shows a lack of any integrity from Liberty Media & F1. Like I said, Liberty Media’s actions speak louder than words. @broke1984

      Do I have this wrong?

  2. What is going on with mobile ads on this site?

    Have to squint to see the article in amongst them at times!!

    1. You can always pay the small sum to go ad free Callum. If you’re already a paying member then perhaps you should consider using the contact button. I’d check you’re logged in b4 complaining, I’ve found same trouble with ads myself when my device occasionally logs me out.

      1. Except it logs me out at random intervals, across various devices, OS and browsers.

        A good uBlock means it’s not too big a deal until it comes to commenting

      2. You don’t have to pay to be able to read without headache. If he’s right it should be fixed.

  3. I hope the track gets altered if this was the only way for a long-term stay.
    Losail is a permanent circuit, so keeping it would be easier than going for a temporary one, starting from scratch.

    1. @jerejj
      I strongly disagree. Altering it in a way to suit F1 better will most likely kill the original flow of the circuit and make the motorcycle races more boring/less challenging.
      I’d much rather see F1 race somewhere else in Qatar than see them ruining on of the best circuits on the MotoGP calendar.

      1. @srga91 I agree

        F1 cars need a different type track than other race series, especially motorcycles.

        I think Losail is going to be a very low overtaking track for F1 races like Hungary and Zandvoort, it’s narrow. it will be all about Quali. The track is not suited for cars with the size & performance of F1 cars

        Trying to suit both MotoGP and F1 on same track is fruitless and neither win.

    2. No need to change the track.

    3. Apologies @jerejj for the report. An accidental slippery finger …

      1. @oakfarmer For what? You didn’t reply to me earlier.

        1. I accidentally reported your comment to the administrator and it reflected as “flagged”. I had no intention of replying or reporting.

    4. I don’t really see anything wrong with the track F1 wise, looks like Sakhir to me

  4. I hope they can build alternate layouts in the existing track. Here are some ideas:
    1) Straight line turn 2 and join it to turn 10 and create a super fast triangular layout
    2) Create faster versions of turn 2 and turn 15 so that cars flow better and carry more speed into turn 4 and turn 16.
    3) Add Zandvoort-Turn 3 style banking in turn 6 or turn 7 to make them faster. May be create them slightly ahead to the existing turn so that MotoGp can continue using the existing turns.

    You have all the petro dollars. Use them!!!

  5. So Qatar has a multi-year deal. Will hold one race, then one year off before hosting again? 🤔 🙄

  6. That makes no less than 4 Middle Eastern venues. That is too many- and Losail is one the most boring tracks that MotoGP races on- a d for F1, it would have to be changed.

  7. What’s with all these races in the gulf region? Why not somewhere on the continent of Africa? Why not west coast US? I would think nearly anyone who would attend a race in Qatar would already be attending the races in Bahrain or UAE, or to a lesser extent saudi arabia ?

    1. Africa is right now impossible look at the economic picture there must some kind of money structure in place to support circuits. Even South Africa has problems to keep his circuit to standards.
      The only african country who could support a circuit is Morocco stable country and a decent economic growth.

    2. p.s. i don’t like races in the middle east either and would rather see some west coast races too.

  8. Looks flat as a pancake. :-(

    1. Qatar isn’t really known for its hills and mountains…

  9. Another Tilke masterpiece enters the calendar.

    1. @john-h Tilke was not involved here

      1. @zomtec completely my bad, you’re right. For some reason I was sure they were the design office involved. I’ve just spent the last ten minutes trying to find the design team but no joy at all, any ideas? Perhaps former employees of Tilke!

  10. Nell (@imabouttogoham)
    1st October 2021, 1:59

    Ugh. I didn’t mind Losail hosting the 23rd race this year, but now they also get a 10 year deal?

    I’m assuming some tracks are on the way out. China remains super strict to inbound passengers.

    1. China leaving the calendar would be great but adding Qatar is not the solution. F1 should now allow countries that persecute their own citizens to hold races. It implies that F1 and its fans are okay with treating people badly as long as a circus is held and it gives an opportunity for the countries to whitewash their otherwise terrible reputations. I don’t like this gulf states takeover of F1. Two races was bad enough now it has doubled in one year.

      1. But there will be 2 in the usa, and no country persecutes its citizens quite like the us

  11. It’s as if Bernie Ecclestone is still in charge of FOM.

    Enjoyed Portimao, Mugello, Istanbul, Imola, Nurburgring while it lasted. Apart from Imola they may be all gone again.

  12. Is it just me or does the Losail Circuit looks somewhat similar to the one at Sakhir ?? or like an expanded version of Algarve ? There is no back straight at Losail but a sequence of fast corners..that is interesting on paper but the run off area may well remind us of Paul Ricard.
    I think its worth a visit this year. What bothers me is the long term ten year deal to be on the F1 calendar from 2023 !!

  13. Is it just me or does the Losail Circuit looks somewhat similar to the one at Sakhir ??

    1. That was actually my first reaction. Sakhir with an extra ear-thing.

  14. Just add Kuwait motor town and Dubai autodrom and have a winter spin off series with junior drivers.

    The talks of liberty media keeping F1’s heritage is just BS.

    1. Oh yeah. Expect more races in corrupt states with deep pockets or access to debt. To an american corporation the only thing that matters is profit, constraints be (condemned to suffer eternal punishment in hell). They don’t care much about the heritage of F1 if a mint can be made regardless of what they say.

  15. Am I the only one who doesn’t like the talk of yet another street circuit?

Comments are closed.