Qatar front-runner for F1 calendar slot
By Mat Coch
Wednesday 1st September, 2021 - 1:34pm
Formula 1 is increasingly expected to confirm it will visit the Losail circuit in Qatar in the latter part of the 2021 season.
Over the course of the Belgian Grand Prix last weekend, the sport released a revised calendar for the back half of the campaign.
That followed the cancellation of the Japanese Grand Prix the week prior, an event which will not be replaced.
It’s resulted in a slightly shortened schedule with 10 races to come, nine of which have had their location confirmed.
The exception is the November 21 event, essentially the race which replaced the abandoned Australian Grand Prix.
While it’s believed a number of possibilities were looked at, including a double-header at the Circuit of The Americas, Losail appears to have emerged as the front-runner.
Formula 1 has never raced at the venue, which was opened in 2004.
Costing $54 million to construct, the 5.38-kilometre venue has hosted MotoGP every year since its opening (though only Moto2 and Moto3 competed there in 2020).
Top flight open-wheel racing has been limited to the likes of the GP2 Asia series, which visited the venue in 2009.
On that occasion, Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez shared the spoils.
“I hardly, remember the circuit,” the Mexican admitted.
“I remember, it was very smooth, because it was done for MotoGP.
“It was very smooth and I think it will be a good place [for Formula 1] but I hardly remember the circuit, to be honest.”
Though tipped to hosted F1 later this year, the Losail circuit is not included on the FIA’s list of licensed circuits.
A venue most hold a Grade 1 license if it is to host F1.
However, that may not prove to be a show-stopper, as the venue features expansive run-off areas and facilities suitable for world class motorcycle competition.
Just under three months out from the expected race, it’s not unimaginable then that an FIA circuit inspection could be carried out to grant the appropriate license.