The Qatar Grand Prix F1: Is The West-to-east Course Right?

The first Qatar Grand Prix F1 debuts in 2021! Then the country will take a year off for the World Cup. After that, Qatar will get a residence permit on the F1 calendar until 2032! Remarkably, it was Bernie Ecclestone, the former head of Formula 1 at the time, who set the course towards the east. The east, however, is a sensitive issue. Despite Ecclestone’s foresight, Qatar was not included on the schedule. In the second half of the 2000s, the country’s representatives hoped to hold the Grand Prix, but Bernie Ecclestone categorically rejected their plans. Why?

Bernie Ecclestone and Formula 1’s East Course

The idea of moving the Formula 1 Grand Prix from West to East belonged to Bernie Ecclestone. A man at the helm of the most influential political lever saw significance in it that no one else did. His theories about the development and popularization of Formula 1 in Eastern countries have been criticized. Thus, the failed Vietnam Grand Prix is one of the most characteristic examples. The race scheduled for the 2020 Formula 1 season, was cancelled due to a Coronavirus pandemic.

Holding F1 racing at a place where it brings joy to the world, dilutes the culture with its unique traditions and brings something new and unique to motorsport events – that is the secret plan. Russia, China, the Arab Emirates, Dubai, Japan, Vietnam – Bernie Ecclestone was sure that this was the right course to take. And the secret plan worked! Thanks to the media and livestreams around the world, F1 fans have learned more about the traditions of other countries.

A typical example is the Russian Grand Prix, which began in 2014. Negotiations with the Russian government dragged on for a long time. Ecclestone personally attended a closed meeting in 1982, which was not successful at the time. In 2015, Qatar claimed its own race, but Bernie Esclestone agreed Bahrain would be the only race in the Persian Gulf. And the Formula 1 Qatar Grand Prix had to wait another six years for its debut.

Formula 1 Qatar Grand Prix

Qatar Grand Prix- step by step towards inclusion in the calendar.

Bahrain was the main competition country.

If we understood Bernie Ecclestone correctly, it was Bahrain that caused the postponement of the Formula 1 Qatar Grand Prix. With the scale of the global race and the financial investment, Ecclestone could not allow the double Grand Prix to be held on the same calendar. It does not matter how close the races were. Everyone should be able to contribute new ideas and be different.

“When we went to Bahrain I made a deal with the people there,”
“They said to me that as they were going to be something new in the area, would I give them a guarantee I wouldn’t stage another race in the Gulf, and I said, ‘Yes’.”
“Now this other race has been proposed,”
“So I put the people together and said ‘Can you sort this out between you?’ They haven’t managed to do it.”

Bernie Ecclestone

The issue has been partially resolved for the F1 2021 season. Bahrain and the Qatar Grand Prix are scheduled for different dates. This includes the Sakhir race in March which opens the Formula 1 racing season. Despite this, the Grand Prix of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Abu Dhabi will be held over four weeks in November and December.

Pandemic and cancellation of 2020 races.

The Formula 1 calendar has been turned upside down because of race cancellations and postponements. There was no other solution than to switch to racing weekends in neighboring countries. That played into the hands of the Formula 1 Qatar Grand Prix, which has been waiting for its debut since 2005. The conditions have become more loyal and the schedule more flexible, which was already not the case under Bernie Ecclestone.

Qatar GP is on the 2021 calendar.

As far as possible, Formula 1 tried to secure the list of participating countries based on experience from previous years. The guarantee was intended to protect interests against unnecessary financial losses. Policies to increase the number of races on the calendar are one way to show Formula 1 at all available venues. If it is possible today in difficult times, why not? Bernie Ecclestone has an answer most people don’t like.

I think we have enough races here

Bernie Ecclestone

Although many racing fans support Bernie Ecclestone on this issue, the management of Formula 1 itself sees advantages in such a cooperation. How did Qatar manage it despite the criticism?

Qatar Grand Prix F1 is about Additional funding.

Formula 1 has interest to working with countries where additional profit is possible. If you ask Bernie Ecclestone where you can get the finest service, he will say every Grand Prix at the Eastern. Let’s not be unreasonable. Compare the prices of F1 tickets for the race in Abu-Dhabi, for example.

Dubai GP 2021, F1 tickets
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, F1 tickets price

Comparison of F1 tickets.

Free accommodation on the Sochi for three days vary within 80 USD, in Abu Dhabi Grand Prix starts at 280 USD! A three-day ticket to the F1 Paddock Club here costs almost 6100 USD, in Russia – 4200 USD! The main grandstand at the Saudi Grand Prix will cost almost 5 thousand dollars! Although the price tag here should logically be 500 USD.

The tickets on Formula 1 Qatar Grand Prix are expensive. The race in Qatar helps attract a new audience of F1 fans, but whether each of them can afford such a pleasure as Formula 1 is another question altogether.

f1 qatar
Losail Circuit

How does the Losail International Circuit look?

The first Qatar Grand Prix takes place at the purpose-built Losail International Circuit, 22 miles north of the capital Doha on the Arabian Peninsula.

The 16-corner circuit was built in 2004 and is a fixture on the MotoGP calendar for two-wheelers. Losail, with its main straight of just over a kilometer, is the ideal location for the one DRS zone on the tricky Qatar F1 track. Right turn 1 is the most advantageous opportunity to overtake.

There is a triple right-hand apex, an almost flat high-speed turn sequence from turn 12 to 14, which is similar to Turn 8 in Turkey but will be particularly challenging in the opposite direction and on tires. The tires are already the topic of discussion as the teams could experience an above-average fire loss due to the high amount of time the cars spend in corners.

The F1 cars reached an average speed of 237km / h in qualifying and 220km / h on race day at the F1 Qatar Grand Prix.

The main question is: Is this the right course?

Bernie Ecclestone has laid a solid foundation for the development of Formula 1 and he is always logical. But beyond that, there are still three races in the Middle East in the 2021 season. The influence of the East is undeniable. But is it not the case that historically significant Grand Prix will be ignored at some point?

Furthermore, there are race circuits that have not attracted Formula 1’s attention at all – Switzerland, Argentina, Sweden. There are also places where such events will be even more welcome, such as Greece, India or Kimi Raikkonen’s home country, Finland. However, this country still has no place in the Formula 1 season. South Africa is a place full of its own distinctive culture.

Thus, when seeking comfort and service in Formula 1 in other cities and countries, it is imperative not to overlook the local traditions and historically significant race tracks.