F1 2021 Qatar Grand Prix Preview: Who will master the Losail Circuit?
The final leg of the last triple-header in the 2021 Formula 1 season sees us travel to a new circuit. Brought in to replace the cancelled Australian GP, this weekend sees the inaugrual F1 Qatar Grand Prix. Losail has never seen an F1 race, instead being used to host MotoGP since 2004.
This year’s championship battles shows no sign of being resolved anytime soon, so the action in Qatar will be crucial to see who comes out on top. Every twist and turn in 2021 has been entertaining, let’s see what Round 20 will bring!
The Losail Circuit was built in 2004 but will see its first F1 race on Sunday. This will be the only Formula 1 race here too, as the Qatar GP takes a hiatus in 2022 before moving to a purpose-built circuit in 2023.
Qatar’s layout is as flat as pancake with miles of runoff in every direction. That doesn’t sound entertaining, but its corners are very high-speed and the long start/finish straight will promote overtaking. The race will take place at sunset too, so it will be similar to Abu Dhabi in that regard.
Sir Lewis strikes back in Brazil
Sir Lewis Hamilton put on a show that we’ll never forget in Brazil last week. The defending champion produced one of the best drives of his career, as he not only overcame disqualification to take the top step, but also an additional five-place grid penalty.
Hamilton pulled off 25 overtakes across the Sprint and Race, including excellent passes on both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez. Verstappen maintains his championship lead, but it’s now down to 14 points when it could’ve easily been 28. Valtteri Bottas had a solid weekend and completed the podium ahead of Perez.
Ferrari consolidated their third place in the constructors championship with Charles Leclerc ahead of Carlos Sainz (5th-6th). Pierre Gasly scored more solid points in seventh, ahead of Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon (8th-9th). Lando Norris overcame a first-lap puncture to recover to 10th by the end.
Verstappen in trouble?
Hamilton secured his 101st F1 win despite some controversial defending from Max Verstappen. Verstappen ran both himself and Hamilton off the road in Turn 4 and maintained his lead. Verstappen was passed a few laps later, but a five-second penalty would’ve dropped him to third.
Mercedes have protested the Dutchman’s moves, which the FIA are now investigating. At the time of writing, though, nothing has been decided.
The Stewards couldn’t access Verstappen’s onboard footage when the decision to not investigate was made. That’s utterly bizarre in this day and age. Either way, the gloves are well and truly off now, and these final three rounds in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE will be fascinating watches.
Practice 1, Nov 5th: 10:30 – 11:30 (5:30 – 6:30 EST)
Practice 2, Nov 5th: 14:00 – 15:00 (9:00 – 10:00 EST)
Practice 3, Nov 6th: 11:00 – 12:00 (6:00 – 7:00 EST)
Qualifying, Nov 20th: 14:00 – 15:00 (9:00 – 10:00 EST)
Race, Nov 21st: 14:00 (9:00 EST)
All times are UK time (GMT), unless stated
Grid Talk Podcast
Want more content to preview your Qatar GP weekend? The Grid Talk crew have you covered with their latest podcast, the Qatar GP Preview. Owain Medford hosted Adam Burns and Tom Downey in episode 152 of the show. Both audio and video versions of the podcast are available below: