Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Losail International Circuit, 2023

F1 ‘looked silly’ being first to run on resurfaced Qatar track – Verstappen

Formula 1

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Formula 1 has lessons to learn from the problems it encountered during the Qatar Grand Prix weekend, says Max Verstappen.

The Red Bull driver clinched his third world championship during the weekend and scored his 14th grand prix victory of the season. But he was unimpressed by the lack of grip at the recently resurfaced track and the compromises F1 had to make due to concerns over tyre failures.

F1 held its second event at the Losail International Circuit last weekend. The track had been extensively refurbished and resurfaced since F1’s previous visit in 2021.

However there was little grip on the circuit to begin with. Verstappen said F1 should not be first to run on a resurfaced track, and other series should visit beforehand so the newly laid asphalt has time to settle.

“It did grip up a little bit, probably if we come back next year it will be again a bit better,” said Verstappen. “But it depends on how much it will be driven.

“I think it’s important that other kinds of categories come back or come here and race a bit more, because you have to take a bit of that oil out of the Tarmac when it’s new, and also a bit more like a wider grip line. At the moment, I think it’s still too much like one line. But it seemed to really ramp up.”

F1 encountered similar problems at Istanbul Park and Autodromo do Algarve when it raced at the resurfaced tracks during the pandemic-affected seasons of 2020 and 2021. Verstappen said it doesn’t reflect well on F1 for drivers to be struggling for grip on freshly-laid aphalt.

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“Next time that we get into a situation like this, I don’t think F1 should be the first one to drive because it looks a bit silly,” he said. “Like, [first practice] with cars sliding around having no grip.”

Having more racing taking place at circuits before F1 visits them will help the world championship avoid a repeat of the tyre problems encountered last weekend. The track limits at the circuit were adjusted and maximum stint lengths enforced during the grand prix after Pirelli discovered its tyres were beginning to fail due to the strain they were under. There were also, notably, no support races that would usually help in gripping up the track.

“It’s important when we go to a track where they’ve put new Tarmac, that at least it’s run in a little,” said Verstappen. “That will then help a lot.

“Also, for understanding the tyres, for example, what we had now. That’s why we had these forced, of course, limited laps. So yeah, a few things I think to learn out of this this weekend as a whole.”

Verstappen does not want F1 to repeat the practice of setting maximum stint lengths. He said it was unfortunate they had been forced to compromise teams’ strategies because of the tyre problems.

“For sure you could push a little bit more on the tyres, because you were just limited to those laps. Besides that it’s a bit of a shame that we had to do that. But luckily, I think nothing really happened and I think that was, of course, the most important.”

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2023 Qatar Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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16 comments on “F1 ‘looked silly’ being first to run on resurfaced Qatar track – Verstappen”

  1. F1 looked silly alright, but not because of the track or the tyres.
    Being ‘unable’ to stay within track limits was one thing that made them look particularly silly…

    You’d think a guy like Verstappen would enjoy the cars sliding around a bit more on such a surface. It’s right up his alley in terms of driving style, and an area where he can really show his talents relative to other drivers. Much more in line with the F1 of old.
    Perhaps he’s just a bit too used to the billiard tables he usually races on – both virtually and in reality.

    1. F1 drivers drive cars who doesn’t drift that is slower. Sliding is even slower then that ……

      1. Who cares about “slower?” This is a racing series, not a time-trial.
        The (relatively) low-grip surface assisted in creating more racing opportunities than F1 usually sees half a season, primarily because it was low grip and didn’t have a single line rubbered in. Such conditions allow the drivers more opportunities to attempt a move – especially in places they wouldn’t otherwise.
        In short – the driver makes more of a difference to overall performance on a ‘green’ track.

        1. @S
          You are correct but only for a very limited amount of laps. After a;ready a few laps that racing line will already be significantly better because of what you said, rubbering in. The argument you used in favor of your point actually speaks against it. A grippy track allows different lines through sections of a track and therefore opportunities. It also gives drivers more confidence to try something. But even this scenario will at the end of a race run into the marble problem, with discarded rubber off the racing line.
          The action you mention of which we had plenty this weekend came mostly because of tire and pit offset, not because the track was slippery though

    2. Do you even watch the races? Max was the only driver to not go off the track in the race. The other two that also didn’t go off the track were Hamilton and Sainz. Max did the fastest lap.

      1. Do you even watch the races?

        Of course. I find it’s the best way to see what happens…

        Max was the only driver to not go off the track in the race. The other two that also didn’t go off the track were Hamilton and Sainz.

        Well, that’s somewhat contradictory…
        Good for him. Or all three of them…. Whichever it is.

  2. F1 is better for having Verstappen speak out so frequently. The fact that people speculate on whether he might retire early out of frustration with issues – excessive race calendar, technical regulations, even the above – puts good pressure on FIA/FOM to actually act on them.

    Granted I don’t actually mind slippery racetracks once in a blue moon, it makes for a fun change!

  3. Overall, the only one who looked silly this weekend was Pirelli. The drivers, teams, track and lack of support races aren’t to blame for this weekend

    But for my information, does a new surface (which sheds oil causes low grip) cause tyres to delaminate? Some tyre expert’s comments would be very welcome.

    1. But for my information, does a new surface (which sheds oil causes low grip) cause tyres to delaminate? Some tyre expert’s comments would be very welcome.

      No it doesn’t. The tyre issues had nothing to do with the surface.
      They were being shaken apart by the sustained resonance (vibration) from running on the kerbs for far too long under extreme loads.

    2. I think the main damage for the tyres was coming from the curbs which are generally more designed for bikes, when a machine with high downforce like an F1 car goes over such heavily serrated curbs it’s inevitably going to put too much strain on the tyres over time. You’re right it’s Pirelli looking like the biggest fools as it’s not like they’ve not been there before but then the fact the FIA and FOM weren’t smart enough to schedule this race later in the year to reduce the impact of the heat doesn’t make them look particularly bright either.
      You’re right fresh tarmac does shed oil but I don’t think that was the real issue in this case, just the fact it hadn’t been used before hand (I don’t know exactly when the new tarmac was laid). It’s not hugely dissimilar to what happened at Istanbul Park a few years ago, though I think Qatar had better quality tarmac that actually gave some form of grip.

  4. That’s one of the many problems of holding an F1 race in Qatar. Not many others want to race there that’s why they had to pay F1M a princely sum to put it on the calendar.

    Remember Qatar killed thousands of migrant workers over the last decade building the World Cup infrastructure and many of those who survived were never even paid. The response by F1M should have been “thanks but no thanks” but they don’t care about human rights. They’d have held a race in Berlin in 1940 if Nazi Germany paid then enough. Typical post-postmodern American capitalists. Nothing matters but $$$$$$$$$$$$ and a rapidly increasing portion of the western world cares little about the boots stomping on human faces.

    1. Well done – your virtue has been thoroughly signaled

    2. Absolutely correct. Don’t pay attention to people claiming you’re virtue signaling, they’re utterly devoid of any proper view on modern geopolitics. Just look at how quickly F1 got rid of everything Russian.

    3. Yep, easy fix, eliminate a race that shouldn’t even exist but for sports washing

  5. I would do the opposite – resurface every track just before F1 comes there so that it poses an actual challenge and allows for many driving lines. That’s actually what rain does as well.

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