Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Qatar Grand Prix Preview: All you need to know about the inaugural race at Losail

Qatar Grand Prix Preview: Here's a look at what is to come as F1 heads to an all-new circuit in Qatar this weekend.


Qatar Grand Prix Preview: It’s the home stretch. Only three races remain in this amazing 2021 season. Just 14 points separate Max & Lewis. 11 points separate Mercedes & Red Bull. There is virtually nothing in between the two.

The grid heads to the Losail International Circuit, located some 20 km away from Doha in Qatar, for the inaugural race in the desert. Having been built way back in 2004, tomorrow will mark the first time an F1 car has driven out at the track. MotoGP has been a regular here, though. And perhaps this could be a problem for the motorbikes.

We have already seen several cases where the tracks used for both MotoGP and F1 have suffered a lot in terms of driveability because of the massive bumps, the cars leave behind. If I am not wrong, MotoGP Legend Valentino Rossi too, mentioned about F1 cars potentially ruining a circuit otherwise so good.

The fastest ever lap recorded on two-wheels was set by Ducati MotoGP rider Francesco Bagnaia – a 1:52:772. Wonder what the F1 lap would look like? Well, Nico Hulkenberg set a record of a 1:35:741 way back in 2009 in GP2 Asia. If anything, the current record will only shatter the figures by a long, long mile.

Qatar Grand Prix Preview: All you need to know about the Losail circuit

Losail was only brought into the light as a replacement for the Australian GP, and with F1 never having raced here, the track could pose with a lot of challenges to the teams and drivers. One of which will be the dry and humid climate.

Over the years, we have seen how sweaty races in the desert become. Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, and now Qatar – it could be another hot weekend for the grid as peak temperature on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday is said to be 29, 28, and 31 degrees Celsius, respectively.

The Losail circuit has 16 corners in total – 10 that go right and 6 that go the other way – and each lap is around 5.4 km long. The total race distance will hit 306.8 km along with 57 laps.

As far as overtaking is concerned, Qatar Motorsport Chief Amro Al-Hamad is confident that we will get to see “a lot of overtakes”. I, on the other hand, feel that might not be the case as the more you look at the circuit ap, the more you feel that it is virtually impossible to overtake anywhere except at T1, where the cars would be braking heavily after clocking a top speed of 321 km/h (projected).

The high speeds are then benefitted from the usage of DRS, but only on the main-straight. The distance from Pole to the first braking zone, that is T1, is 371 meters, so expect some carnage there.

Qatar Grand Prix Preview: The strategy

All we have at this point are simulations. Simulations from F1, simulations from Pirelli, simulations from the apparent F1 gurus. The Italian tyre supplier will be bringing its hardest compounds to Qatar – C1, C2, and C3.

It is said Pirelli has once again gone conservative with its tyre choice as with a fast-flowing circuit such as this one, there are not enough strategy choices. As such, we should only expect a one-stopper come Sunday.

Qatar Grand Prix Preview: Who’s hot and who’s not

I feel this shouldn’t even be a question as we all know which team will benefit the most from this circuit – Haas!

Jokes aside, considering the Losail track doesn’t get the corners like Singapore, Baku, Canada, that are more suited for overtaking, only one team comes to my mind – Mercedes.

The Silver Arrows has always been a rocket when it comes to straight-line, so there’s its advantage already booked for this weekend. That said, in the middle sector, the Red Bull too could come into play, although it could be a hard task. We know more as we roll into the weekend.

As for Ferrari v McLaren, the Scuderia seem to have an edge over the people from Woking. Both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz seem to be rapid as we speak. Ferrari’s 2022 PU is certainly coming in handy then.

The *really* close fight between Alpine and AlphaTauri is another battle to look out for as the teams are still level on points. If only Yuki could even join his hero teammate Gasly.

The remaining four teams don’t have too much to talk about – Aston cannot get any up the order, but the drivers, especially Lance, would be hoping for a much better race this Sunday. Alfa is getting that much closer to saying goodbye to Kimi and Giovinazzi while George Russell will be looking to find answers to his sudden drop in pace.


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