After Mexico and Brazil, Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow now heads for the Qatar Grand Prix, on the coast of the Arabian Peninsula, also bordering Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf. It will be the first time a Formula 1 Grand Prix has been held here. Qatar covers an area of just over 11,500 square kilometres, with a population of 2,800,000.
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The track. The track-only took a year to build, thanks to a workforce of around a thousand, at a cost of 58 million US dollars. It was inaugurated in 2004, staging that year’s MotoGP, the first such race to be held at night as from 2007 when a powerful 3600 floodlight system was installed. It is 5.380 kilometres in length, with the main straight measuring 1.068 kilometres. The track is surrounded by artificial grass to prevent sand from blowing onto it from the surrounding desert.
The first corner is very important, as it requires very heavy braking before a quick section where it is important to carry speed before braking for turn 4, which marks the start of a section with more corners. A hairpin at turn 6 is the slowest point on the track and leads into the most technical part of the circuit. The complex of corners 12, 13 and 14 are taken as one turn, similar to the famous turn 8 at Istanbul Park. Turn 15 is a fairly quick right-hander before the final braking point on the lap. Here there is more than one possible line, which means overtaking is a possibility.
Recreation. Nearby facilities include the Doha Golf Club, a welcoming and friendly environment for all to discover and enjoy the game of golf. To the north of the circuit, you’ll find the Lusail Shooting Club is Qatar’s very own shooting range. It provides a unique and fun experience available nowhere else in the country. Skeet shooting is open to the public and costs Qr.100 for a box of 25 shotgun shells.
Programme. The race will take place at night so that all other sessions are later than usual in the day. The first free practice on Friday starts at 13.30 local (11.30 CET), with the second at 17 (15 CET). On Saturday, the final hour of preparation begins at 14 (12 CET) prior to qualifying at 17 (15 CET). The inaugural Qatar Grand Prix gets underway at 17 (15 CET).
Qatar Grand Prix: facts & figures
1. The number of current Formula 1 drivers who have raced at the Losail circuit. In February 2009, Sergio Perez took part in the two legs of the GP2 Asia championship. The Mexican won Race 1 and came second in Race 2, which was won by Nico Hülkenberg.
3. The number of times Nasser Salih Nasser Abdullah Al-Attiyah from Doha has won the Dakar rally. Apart from victories in the desert classic in 2011, 2015 and 2019, Qatar’s most successful driver has also won the Italian Baja, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and the Baja Espana-Aragon in 2008. He has also competed in the World Rally Championship, taking three wins in WRC-2, as well as trying his hand at endurance racing. An all-around sportsman, Nasser also took bronze in Skeet Shooting at the 2012 London Olympics.
17. The furthest back on the grid from which a Formula 1 race has been won when the championship was making its debut at a new circuit. The record goes to John Watson in a McLaren on the sport’s first visit to the Detroit street circuit in 1982. As for the furthest back from where a driver made it to the podium, that honour went to Jacques Laffite and the Ligier who finished second, having started from 20th in Formula 1’s first visit to Adelaide in 1985.
18. The number of Motorcycle Grand Prix held in Qatar to date. The Losail circuit is mainly known for hosting the MotoGP, following its debut in 2004, since when it has been a regular fixture on the calendar.
36. The number of countries, including Qatar, that have hosted at least one Formula 1 Grand Prix. The record holders are Italy and Great Britain on 73 editions of their national race. At the other end of the scale, Morocco only ever hosted one race back in 1958. Worth noting that although races have gone by the name of San Marino and Luxembourg, neither of those states actually hosted the races, as they took place respectively in Imola in Italy and Nürburgring in Germany.