Get To Know One of F1's Newest Tracks - Losail International Circuit
The 2021 Formula 1 calendar throws us another surprise with a debut race in Qatar...
The final piece of the 2021 F1 calendar puzzle has been found and it comes in the shape of the Losail International Circuit in Qatar. At the end of November, Formula 1 will race in Qatar for the first time ever at a track located just North of the capital city of Doha. As a track that is not very well known by drivers and fans, this video will give you an introduction to the Losail Circuit and everything you need to know about the inaugural F1 race in Qatar. We'll look at the track facts, the history of the circuit, a flying lap of Losail, and what we can expect from the Formula 1 cars in Qatar. If you found something informative from this track guide, please do share this video and give it a thumbs up if you've enjoyed it!
The Losail International Circuit is the only motorsport venue in Qatar and it first opened back in 2004. The track was built in less than a year and cost around $58 million USD to construct. The track was finished just in time for the inaugural Moto GP Grand Prix of Qatar and has been a staple on the motorbike calendar ever since. The facility received an upgrade in 2008 as flood lights were added to the circuit which meant that Moto GP was able to host its first ever night race back in 2008. Losail's lighting system of over 1,000 structures, 3 million kilos of concrete and over 500km of wiring, took just 175 days to install. Four wheel action has also taken place in Losail with series such as the World Touring Car Championship holding races here from 2015-2017. You also had the GP2 Asia series visit Qatar once back in 2009 and those races were won by Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez. Perez is the only current F1 driver on the grid to have raced competitively around Losail International Circuit. Before we break down the track itself and its characteristics, let's now introduce the audience to the Losail International Circuit and what a flying lap of the track looks like.
A Lap of Losail
The Losail Circuit is a 5.4KM track made up of 16 corners overall, 10 that go the right, and 6 that go to the left. As you saw in the on-board, Losail is dominated by corners with the main straight likely to be the only DRS zones for F1. Downforce levels will most likely be higher because of the lack of need for straight line speed as lap time will be gained through the corners. The polesitter for the first Qatar Grand Prix will start on the left hand side of the grid with top speed estimated to be around 237km/h. The track hasn't been resurfaced since its original build in 2004 so that means that tarmac will offer plenty of grip and it will be quite abrasive. Simulations have shown F1 cars to go no lower than third gear through the 16 corners at Losail, so the high speed corners will mean higher than average tyre degradation. Early simulations suggest an average race lap of a 1 minute 28 seconds with qualifying laps being run at around 1 minute 22 seconds.
What's Can We Expect from Losail?
Losail can be added to the list of desert based circuits that have featured on the F1 calendar in the past 15 years. You'll notice many similarities to other middle eastern tracks like Bahrain with the artificial grass on the outskirts of the track to protect it from the desert sand. Now a big question mark anytime F1 heads to a new circuit is what is the racing going to be like? It's tough to say at the moment but with it being a track designed mostly for two wheel racing, overtaking will be quite tricky around Losail. Looking at the circuit map, the most likely areas for overtaking will be going into Turn 1 and Turn 6 as those will be the heaviest braking zones on the track. Turn 10 might see some action as well but the track is narrow and the gaps tend to close up very quickly when going for a move. One important question yet to be answered about this race is whether or not it will be under the lights in Qatar. Because the race takes place in Autumn, the conditions will be cooler even if the event is held during the daytime.
Sometimes it's easiest to compare new tracks to previous ones F1 has raced at in order to get a feel for what it will be like. One direct comparison can be made to Istanbul Park in Turkey. Losail's Turn 12-14 triple right-hand apex is comparable to Turkey's but of course it is in the opposite direction. Those corners in Sector 3 will be a lot of fun to watch and will make it very challenging for the tyres. An additional circuit you could draw some comparisons to is another famous MotoGP track F1 recently raced on and that is Mugello. Much like Mugello, you have fast flowing corners with very little straights in between to interrupt the flow. But unlike Mugello, Losail is missing some key features usually seen in the European Circuits. Losail is fairly flat and lacks the crazy hills, camber, and undulation that tracks such as Mugello and Portimao have shown us in recent times. This is kind of typical of the new desert based tracks we've seen and has been a criticism lobbed at those tracks by fans and drivers.
All in all, the Losail International Circuit looks like a great track that the drivers will enjoy tackling. Qualifying will be a spectacular session with the high speed corners and downforce levels of the current cars. The racing on the other hand might not give us the greatest spectacle on earth but let's wait and see until the lights go out before coming to any conclusions. The details for the first ever Formula 1 Qatar Grand Prix are still being ironed out so be sure to stay up to date with session start times and track information. Until then, we'd be interested to know what you think so far of Losail and what are you expecting from F1's first visit to Qatar?