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Qatar Grand Prix joins 2021 F1 calendar

Formula 1 will race at Losail International Circuit in 2021, with the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix set to take place on November 21. The event will return to the calendar in 2023 as part of a 10-year deal.

The inaugural Qatar Grand Prix will take place in November, with Formula 1 confirming that Losail International Circuit will fill the vacant race slot on November 21. This will mark the sport’s first visit to Qatar. The circuit is located around 30km north of Qatar’s capital city Doha.

A 10-year deal

Not only will Formula 1 visit Losail International Circuit for the first time, but the Qatar Grand Prix will become a permanent fixture on the calendar from 2023. With the country hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2022, the Qatar Grand Prix will take a one-year break. The event will then return as part of a ten-year deal in 2023. The venue for the 2023 Qatar Grand Prix has not yet been announced, but it is understood that the race may move to a new, purpose-built circuit. 

Qatar is the final addition to the 2021 calendar, with F1 expecting to host 22 rounds should all of the remaining events go ahead as planned. Speaking about the new deal, Stefano Domenicali – CEO of F1 – said that he was impressed by the speed at which race organisers have prepared the Losail circuit for this year’s event:

“We are very pleased to welcome Qatar to the Formula 1 calendar this season and for the longer term from 2023. The Qatar Motor & Motorcycle Federation and Authorities have been incredible and have moved at great speed to ensure the race can take place this season at the Losail Circuit, famous to many as the host of MotoGP. We have shown that we can continue to adapt and there is huge interest in our sport and the hope from many locations to have a Grand Prix. The huge effort from all the teams, F1 and the FIA has made it possible to deliver a 22 race calendar, something that is very impressive during a challenging year and something we can all be proud of.”

From two wheels to four

Losail International Circuit, which opened in 2004, will be familiar to MotoGP fans. It hosted the series’ inaugural night race in 2008. The Formula 1 race will also take place under the floodlights.

Though the 5.4km, 16 turn circuit is more accustomed to hosting motorcycle races than single-seaters, Qatar notably held a round of the GP2 Asia series in 2009. Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez took the two victories at the race meeting, while Davide Rigon set the yet-to-be-broken Lap Record – a 1:38.699.

The final triple header of the 2021 season

The Qatar Grand Prix will form a triple header of Formula 1 races, with the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix scheduled to take place on the two weekends prior to the Qatar race. This will be the third and final triple header of the 2021 season – and looks set to be the most demanding for the teams and travelling personnel.

It’s possible that the tight championship battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen will be decided at the Qatar Grand Prix. After the Losail race, only two rounds will remain in the 2021 season. The next race will be at another new venue – the Jeddah Corniche Circuit for the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. That will be followed by the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which will take place on a revised layout of the Yas Marina Circuit.

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