We are back in the sandy plains of Qatar for the second F1 Grand Prix, that will take place on the Lusail International Circuit. We are slowly beginning to wrap up the season, but there are still a couple of exciting races left, such as this one. A fairly new 10-year contract was signed, which guarantees that Qatar will stay on the calendar for a good while. It is another night track, which has become common in this geographical area, mostly to avoid the scorching sun of the Middle East. Let’s look at all the vital information before the weekend fires off.
Glimpse in the Past
Although the Qatar Grand Prix appears only for the second time on the F1 calendar, the Lusail track itself is a bit older than you might expect. After a 58-million-dollar investment, the track was opened in 2004 and it hosted a MotoGP Grand Prix. Afterwards, many other competitions such as GP2 and FIA World Endurance Championship joined the scene, but F1 had their first crack at the track in 2021. The inaugural Grand Prix was won by Lewis Hamilton, with Max Verstappen coming in second and Fernando Alonso claiming the last podium position. The 2022 season was skipped due to the ongoing football World Cup. As there has only been a single F1 Grand Prix, there is not much to look at from previous experience, but history could be written this very weekend.
All eyes are on Max Verstappen, as this weekend he can become the 2023 F1 World Champion, adding a third title to his total tally. Even more peculiar is the fact that Max can become the World Champion on Saturday, a feat that has never been done before. This is, of course, due to the sprint race format which will be implemented in Qatar. Even if Sergio Perez, who is second in the standings, finishes first, Max only needs to finish in the 6th to snatch the title. If Perez finishes third or higher and Verstappen fails to score points, then the title decider will be postponed until Sunday. Even if something goes awry, Max still has 5 more races to go, so we don’t think there is a shade of worry in Verstappen’s mind.
As expected, the weather will be dry, so we can pretty much disregard any special pitstop strategies. The average temperature during the race is forecasted at 32 degrees Celsius. Even though Red Bull have clinched their 6th Constructors title, the fight for 2nd place is still very much on. Mercedes are in front of Ferrari by 20 points, so a single race can easily switch the momentum to the other side. Even though McLaren have lately shown a strong pace, they are too far off in standing to challenge Ferrari and Mercedes, but they can overtake Aston Martin, who are currently third.
In other news, Liam Lawson is still replacing the injured Daniel Ricciardo, which might be his last replacement race in the season, as Daniel has almost fully recovered. Logan Sargeant seems to be on the chopping block, as his recent crashes have cost the team over a million dollars in repairs and his performance hasn’t fully paid off the expectations. Occupying 8th place in the Constructors standings, Haas are trying their hardest to get out of the slump. They are expecting some upgrades to the car starting from the Austin Grand Prix.
The Qatar Grand Prix weekend will begin with Free Practice on the 6th of October at 16:30. Will Verstappen celebrate his third championship in Qatar or do we have to wait until Austin, USA?