PRIXVIEW – Qatar Grand Prix

Features Prixview

Round seventeen sees F1 make a pitstop in the Middle East and Losail Qatar’s second city for the Qatar Grand Prix. Following a year hiatus and a redevelopment of the circuit first built as part of the wave of circuits across Asia and the Middle East in the 2000s. Although the longer-term plan has been suggested to move the race to a new circuit in the next decade.

Lusail however would have to 2021 for its first F1 race and until this year to join the calendar permanently, on a ten-year deal. The circuit better known for hosting Moto GP since 2004 and became its only night race in 2008, the same year Singapore joined the F1 calendar.

This season unlike 2021 it moves from twilight to a full night race starting three hours later at 20:00 local time or 18:00 BST. Lusail is similar to it neighbour in Bahrain, with one of its long straights and twisty in-field section in sector two, which provides opportunities for overtaking. It is still however a new circuit for F1 and it has been slightly lengthen for this year with a new pit paddock complex, as well as increased capacity.

The circuit is designed mainly for motorbikes it was brought in after years of trying to get a F1 race during the COVID-19 pandemic replacing Melbourne in 2021, as well as signing a ten-year deal starting this year to host the race. Though there was no plan to host a race last year, their were reported discussions to add it in September after Sochi was cancelled following its invasion of Ukraine, which never materialised.

The reason for not holding a Grand Prix last year was because of the FIFA World Cup, but like with the World Cup similar controversies remain about the human rights record in Qatar.

The slightly longer 3.367-mile circuit is similar to neighbouring Sakhir, Bahrain a fast-flowing circuit with a mixture of straights and a twister outfield section. Made up of a mixture if high and medium-speed corners which last time provided for some overtaking, but this was under the previous regulations, which will likely increase in the midfield given how tight it has been this season.

Lusail is still a relevantly unknown circuit, we have only had one grand prix here and that was slightly later in the year, though next year we won’t be racing here until about two months later.

This weekend sees the sport’s first Middle Eastern and night sprint race adding another complexity to the weekend, there is no reprehensive practice session for Grand Prix Qualifying, Grand Prix or the Sprint, with Sprint Qualifying in the afternoon, Grand Prix Qualifying, The Sprint and the Grand Prix all being at night sessions.

This makes the circuit hard on tyres, against Pirelli’s advice in 2021 several teams ran one-stop strategies we know that the type of track surface in this region is quite hard-wearing because of the heat. The nature of this circuit suggests there could be a few issues with overheating. Also the night sessions as the track cooldown you see rapid track evolution, and recent qualifying’s has been about hundredths of a second.

It will be interesting to see how conditions affect Friday night qualifying and Saturday sprint qualifying, these will be in very different conditions, and we know the regulation, unless the extremely unlikely event of rain, affects performance. Do teams sacrifice Saturday qualifying in favour of the sprint and Grand Prix?

Drivers seemed happy with Lusail, with some comparing it to a go-kart track. 2021 saw close racing in the midfield, and we know while Red Bull has dominated this season behind the battle between what has become since the summer break a four-team battle between Mercedes, Ferrari, Aston Martin and McLaren has continued to change race by race.

Race & Circuit Guide

Round 17 of 22
Race Formula 1 Qatar Airways Qatar Grand Prix 2023
Venue Lusail International Circuit, Lusail, Al Daayen, Qatar
Configuration 2023 Grand Prix
Circuit Length 5.419km (3.367mi)
Sprint Laps 19
Distance 102.942km (64.094mi)
Grand Prix Laps 57
Distance 308.826 km (191.895 miles)
Lap Record* Race 1:23.196 (Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, 2021, F1)
Outright 01:20.827 (Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, W12, 2021, F1)
Most wins drivers Lewis Hamilton (1)
Most wins manufacture Mercedes (1)

*2004-21 circuit

Fast facts

  • Qatar has been the first Middle Eastern country to host several large-scale sporting events. These include: MotoGP, the Asian Games, the IAAF and IPC World Championships in Athletics and the FIFA World Cup
  • Qatar Grand Prix was the third full night race on the calendar, after the Singapore and Bahrain Grands Prix, the latter of which switched to being a floodlit race in 2014.
  • After F1 raced in Qatar for the first time in 2021, the sport moved to Saudi Arabia for the first race at Jeddah Corniche Circuit. It was the first time that there were two successive races at new venues since the 1970 German and Austrian Grands Prix.
  • For a while, Losail Circuit was the largest lit sporting venue in the world. Its title was taken by Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi when it opened in 2009.

How Max Verstappen becomes champion

Max Verstappen can win the drivers championship this weekend, to do he needs to outscore teammate Sergio Perez by three points in either the sprint or Grand Prix. Verstappen is on 177 with 180 points still on the table over the six Grands Prix and three Sprints that remain.

Verstappen therefore needs just three more points in total between now and Abu Dhabi on November 26 to join the illustrious ranks of triple F1 champions. This is regardless of whatever Perez does, but if he does not finish third or higher in the Sprint on Saturday Verstappen is champion

Event timetable


Local (AST)



Practice 16:30-17:30 14:30-15:30
Qualifying 20:00-21:00 18:00-19:00


Sprint Shootout 16:00-16:45 14:00-14:45
Sprint 20:30 18:30


Race 20:00 18:00

What happened in 2021?

Lewis Hamilton beat his championship rival Max Verstappen to pole by nearly half a second, the largest margin of the season. The Mercedes driver looked in total control topping all three parts of qualifying, despite making a mistake on his first run in Q3. Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas was over half a second off, and almost two-tenths behind the Dutchman in third.

Bottas had looked to be the faster of the two Mercedes going into qualifying, he was expected to be close to Hamilton, meanwhile, Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez struggled in Q2, he went tenth on his medium tyres. But towards the end of the session was forced onto the soft tyres but while he did improve it was only tot. tenth, then Carlos Sain improved knocking Perez out.

Hamilton went on to dominate the race with a steady drive and take a twenty-five second win ahead of Verstappen. The Dutchman dropped to seventh on the grid following a yellow flag infringement in qualifying, but he recovered from the five-place penalty to get into second by the end lap five.

While Verstappen made a charge during his open stint, the Red Bull drivers race then stalled when he got into second, Hamilton appearing to be too quick.  He looked then to struggle to unlock the same race pace as Mercedes. Fernando Alonso converted fourth on the grid into his first podium since Budapest in 2014. Alonso had inherited third on the grid thanks to Verstappen gaining a penalty less than two hours before the start of the race.

Meanwhile, Perez looked able to fight for the podium before a late virtual safety care nurtured his charge, helping Alonso to hang on to take third making his one-stop work. Perez was eleven seconds behind with six laps to go on old tyres, while the Red Bull driver closed the gap he was still two seconds off when they crossed the line.

Race Result – 1) L. Hamilton, Mercedes, 01:24:28.471 | 2) M. Verstappen, Red Bull – Honda, +00:25.743 | 3) F. Alonso, Alpine, +00:59.457

What to watch for?

This weekend the focus will be on Max Verstappen, the Red Bull driver goes into this weekend with two opportunities to seal his third world title, as explained above. I think given the way the Dutchman has performed this season it is highly likely as well as the way that the car has won nearly every race this year. There has been some debate whether winning it in a sprint race is right, but I think when we look back on 2023 it will be one of the greatest championship-winning seasons.

This weekend presents teams with another new challenge, a night sprint race, I think its going to be interesting to see how teams approach practice and sprint qualifying as they won’t have the same conditions for the Sprint and Grand Prix. I think this again might open a slim opportunity for Red Bull’s rivals after they struggled in Singapore, though I believe that was likely a unique situation.

Sergio Perez has had a difficult year, he is the only driver who can stop Verstappen from winning this championship. But I believe that it would take a miracle and Verstappen having to miss several races in the next two months for him to win this championship. But I think these coming races are important for him to build a platform if he wants to ‘do a Rosberg’ next year.

Lusail is effectively a new circuit, its slightly longer and has been resurfaced for this year, this means what was always going to be a busy practice session will be even busier. The sprint format means that there is one practice session which also isn’t reprehensive of the conditions in qualifying, the sprint or the race, this being a night race.

It has varied in recent races between Mercedes, Ferrari and McLaren in the battle for best of the rest with Aston Martin continuing to slip away. I think, while we only have one race where Ferrari has beaten Red Bull, the battle behind Red Bull is the one which when Verstappen wins this championship will take centre stage.

I think that Mercedes is the most likely of that group to have a good weekend, it looks to be a circuit similar to the ones where they have been strong. But we know they are still trying t close the gap despite fundamentally changing the design for next year. I think McLaren since the summer break has overtaken Ferrari and is on a roll at the moment following the big upgrades they brought.

Losail is also expected to suit McLaren due to its high speed nature, which will underline the big steps the Woking-based team have made since the start of the season when they were struggling to score points.

2021 Race Data

P1 Fastest

P2 Fastest

P3 Fastest

Q1 Fastest

Q2 Fastest

Q3 Fastest

Race Time

Fastest Lap


01:23.723 01:23.148 01:22.310 01:21.901 01:21.682 01:20.827 01:24:28.471 01:25.084

*2004-21 configure

2021 Lap time comparison

Fastest Time
Fastest Time
Fastest Time
Fastest Time
Fastest Time
Fastest Time
Race. Time
01:24.194 +00.471 01:23.148 +00.000 01:22.310 +00.000 01:21.901 +00.000 01:21.682 +00.000 01:20.827 +00.000 01:24:28.471 +00:00.000 +00:00.000
Red Bull
01:23.723 +00.000 01:23.498 +00.350 01:22.651 +00.341 01:21.966 +00.095 01:21.984 +00.302 01:21:424 +00.597 01:24:54.217 +00:25.743 +25.743
01:24.713 +00.925 01:24.033 +00.885 01:23.048 +00.738 01:22.304 +00.403 01:22.24 +00.559 01:21.840 +01.013 01:25:50.382 +01:21.911 +00.637
01:25.215 +01.492 01:23.632 +00.484 01:23.711 +01.401 01:22.688 +00.787 01:22.216 +00.534 01:21.731 +00.904 01:24:29.186 Lapped Lapped
Aston Martin
01:25.328 +01.605 01:23.705 +00.557 01:23.884 +01.574 01:22.549 +00.648 01:22.460 +00.464 01:22.785 +01.954 01:25:49.745 +01:21.274 +00.704
Alpha Tauri
01:24.648 +00.925 01:23.357 +00.209 01:22.836 +00.526 01:22.422 +00.634 01:21.728 +00.046 01:21.640 +00.813 01:24.39.660 Lapped +05.593
01:24.972 +01.249 01:24.041 +00.885 01:23.186 +00.876 01:22.422 +00.521 01:21.894 +00.212 01:21.670 +00.843 01:25:27.928 +00:59.457 +33.714
01:26.699 +02.976 01:25.575 +02.427 01:24.680 +02.370 01:23.407 +01.506 N/A N/A 01:25:31.192 Lapped +01.578
Alfa Romeo
01:25.757 +02.034 01:24.631 +02.427 01:24.246 +01.936 01;23.156 +01.255 N/A N/A 01:25:05.206 Lapped +2.809
01:25.688 +02.148 01:24.954 +01.806 01:23.923 +01.613 01:22.863 +00.962 01:22.756 +01.074 N/A 01:24.46.509 + 2 Laps Lapped


White Hard (C1)

Yellow Medium (C2)

Red Soft (C3)

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