The 2023 Qatar Grand Prix, set against the stunning backdrop of the Lusail International Circuit, promises a spectacle of speed, precision, and thrilling motorsport action. Scheduled to unfold over 57 laps on the 5.418-kilometre circuit on Sunday, October 8, this event is not just a race but a pulsating experience in the heart of Qatar.
With a weekend packed with adrenaline-pumping activities, including practice and qualifying sessions, support races, and special events, fans and participants alike are set to be immersed in a world where the roar of the engines and the cheers of the crowd converge to create unforgettable memories.
Whether you’re a seasoned F1 enthusiast or a curious newcomer, the Qatar Grand Prix offers a unique blend of excitement and elegance in the world of Formula 1 racing.
- Date and Time: The main race is scheduled for October 8, 2023, at 17:00 local time. Other notable events during the race weekend include the Sprint on October 7 from 17:30 – 18:30 and the Sprint Shootout on the same day from 13:00 – 13:44. Qualifying rounds and Practice 1 are slated for October 6 at 17:00 – 18:00 and 13:30 – 14:30 respectively.
- Location: The event will be held at the Lusail International Circuit, a track that spans 5.418 kilometres and will be navigated over 57 laps during the main race.
- Broadcast Information: The event will be broadcast around the globe, but specific details about how and where you can watch the race on TV or digital platforms might need to be checked with your local broadcaster. Alternatively, F1 TV is a fantastic way to catch the action.
- Circuit Information: The Lusail International Circuit is known for its challenging layout and stunning surroundings, providing both a visual and competitive spectacle.
Max Verstappen Eyes the Prize Amidst the Qatari Heat
As the desert sun casts its relentless glow over the Lusail International Circuit, Max Verstappen, with the Constructors’ Championship already tucked away in the team’s trophy cabinet, steers his focus towards the coveted Drivers’ Championship, embracing the challenges and the scorching heat of the Qatari Grand Prix with strategic finesse and a thirst for triumphant memories.
‘It feels good to be heading to Qatar with the Constructors’ Championship secured. The track there is really fun to drive, although it’s going to be a tough weekend for all of us as it’s so hot there. The temperatures will definitely make it interesting. This weekend is also a Sprint race so we need to make sure we learn as much as we can from the practice session on Friday. The Drivers’ Championship can also be won during the Sprint race on Saturday so that is our main aim. Hopefully it will be a weekend to remember!’
Sergio Perez Steers into the Qatari Night with Victory in Sight
Navigating through the sandy challenges of the Lusail International Circuit, Sergio Perez, armed with the collective triumph of a Constructors’ Championship, sets his sights on a luminous performance under the Qatari night sky, balancing the thrill of the race with strategic car management and a keen awareness of the desert’s tricky terrain.
‘Qatar is a chance to get back to racing for me with two opportunities to win across the weekend. The Sprint format always throws up challenges when it comes to setting the car up, so we will work hard together to ensure we are ready for qualifying on Friday night. The track there can be tricky, as we learnt in 2021, grip is affected by the sand on the surface, so you must be alert. A night race is always fun though and this might be the hottest event we have all season, so it will involve a lot of management across all three days to get the most out of the car. We are coming into this race as World Champions, and for me personally, I would like to show that out on track.’
Toto Wolff and Mercedes Gear Up for a Strategic Battle Under the Qatari Lights
Embarking on a return to the sweeping turns of Lusail with a blend of anticipation and strategic foresight, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff reflects on the contrasting terrains of past circuits and casts his gaze towards the demanding Qatari track, where understanding the nuances of recent resurfacing and optimizing setup amidst the Sprint weekend’s time constraints become pivotal chapters in the unfolding drama of the Constructor’s Championship battle.
‘We knew our pace in Japan wouldn’t match what we had been able to show in Singapore. They are very different circuits and the characteristics of Suzuka highlighted the weaknesses of the W14.
‘It was therefore important that we limited the damage to Ferrari in the Championship. With six races to go, we are relishing the fight and will be giving it our all to stay ahead, starting this weekend in Qatar.
‘We return to Lusail for the first time since 2021. The inaugural Grand Prix there was a successful one for us, so we are looking forward to going back. With its sweeping turns, it’s a demanding circuit and one the drivers also enjoy.
‘Since our last visit, there have been changes both on and off track. A key feature of FP1 therefore will be understanding the effect of the track resurfacing. As it is a Sprint weekend, we will have limited time to get on top of this and find a solid set-up for the rest of the event. It will be an interesting task and one we are excited for.’
Vasseur and Ferrari to Navigate the Intricacies of Lusail with a Calculated Approach
As Ferrari Team Principal Frédéric Vasseur meticulously dissects the challenges posed by the Lusail track, the team, armed with insights gleaned since Zandvoort, is poised to plunge into the Qatari Grand Prix with a meticulously crafted strategy, ensuring Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz are equipped to navigate the tight, thousandth-of-a-second battles that have become a hallmark of the races behind the championship frontrunners.
‘On paper, the Lusail track looks like being another stern test for the SF-23. Ever since Zandvoort, we have learned a lot about how best to manage our package and once again in Qatar, we will do our best to give Charles and Carlos a car with which they can fight in the very close battles we have seen at every race, fought out to the nearest thousandths, behind the championship leaders.
‘This will be the first time we race in Qatar with the current generation of ground-effect cars and we have just one free practice session, as this is another Sprint weekend. It means that the preparation work carried out back in the factory and in the simulator takes on even greater importance and we feel well prepared. Once again, the aim is to bring home as many points as possible as we continue to fight for second place in the Constructors’ classification.’
McLaren Seek to Harness Momentum in the Qatari Desert
Riding the wave of a triumphant double podium in Japan, McLaren’s Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri steer into the Lusail International Circuit with a blend of optimism and strategic preparation, eyeing the Sprint race weekend in Qatar as a fertile ground to accumulate points and continue the team’s upward trajectory in a season where every lap is a new lesson and every point is precious.
“We’re back racing after a week off. We had a very successful race in Japan with another P2 for me and a double podium for the team. The car had strong pace, which is encouraging as we go into the final seven races of the season.
“Qatar up next. It’s another Sprint race weekend, so more opportunity for points. This is only the second time we’re racing at the Lusail International Circuit, so we will have to learn as much as we can from the Friday practice session. I’ve been back at the MTC with the engineers in preparation over the last two weeks. We’ll look to extract the maximum from the car and hopefully bring home some more points,” said Norris.
Aussia Oscar Piastri added “After a great week away from racing taking in my first podium, it’s time to head to Qatar. This is another new track for me, but of course that makes it all the more interesting. I spent some time last week with my engineers going over what we learned in Japan and what we can take forward to Qatar.
“It’s a Sprint weekend, which I do enjoy. Hopefully, we can hit the ground running as there are more chances for points. I’m excited and can’t wait to get going.”
Qatar Grand Prix: Fast Facts
- The F1 Sprint returns for the first time since the Belgian Grand Prix back in August.
- This will be the fourth sprint event of the season, following Baku, Austria, and Spa.
- There are still two more sprint events to come before the end of the season: the United States Grand Prix in Austin and the São Paulo Grand Prix at Interlagos.
- Following F1’s inaugural visit to the Lusail International Circuit back in 2021, the circuit has been completely resurfaced.
- Understanding how this has impacted on grip and tyre degradation will be a key focus for the team during FP1.
- That will be particularly crucial this weekend as we enter parc fermé conditions ahead of qualifying on Friday evening.
- A completely new pit and paddock complex has been constructed at the track in time for this year’s race.
- This will include larger pit garages, new team buildings, and new access tunnels.
- Temperatures during the day in Doha are forecast to reach close to 40°C this week.
- Qualifying, the F1 Sprint, and the Grand Prix itself take place at night, and therefore temperatures are expected to average a more comfortable 27°C.
- However, FP1 and the Sprint Shootout will take place before sunset and temperatures, and thus track conditions, could therefore vary quite dramatically.
- The race in 2021 saw a number of punctures attributed to the flatter kerbs of the Lusail circuit. Unspecified work has been carried out on these ahead of this year’s race so that will be a focus of understanding ahead of running on Friday.
- The track has a fast and flowing nature as it is predominantly used for motorcycle racing.
- There is only one corner, turn six, that sees the minimum speed drop below 100 km/h.
- There are therefore no heavy braking events for us to tackle, a unique occurrence on the 2023 calendar.
- The braking energy requirement is therefore low; there are still six braking events that the cars encounter across the lap.
- There are 16 corners in total: 10 to the right and six to the left. The track’s main straight covers over 1km of the total lap distance and is the sole DRS zone on the circuit.
- The pit lane in Qatar is the third longest of any circuit we visit on the calendar, behind only Imola and Silverstone.
- It clocks in at 450 metres and the expected pit lane time is over 20 seconds.
- Max Verstappen can win the Drivers’ World Championship in the Sprint race in Qatar, unless Sergio Perez scores six points more than Max. It would make Max the first driver to win the title on a Saturday since Nelson Piquet at the 1983 South African Grand Prix.
- Perez will make his 252nd race start this weekend, tying Jarno Trulli as the 10th most experienced driver in F1 history.
- Oracle Red Bull Racing are currently unbeaten in the Sprint format this season, something that no team has achieved since the format was first introduced during the 2021 season. Perez won the Azerbaijan Sprint, while Max could become the first driver to win three Sprint events in a single season this weekend, having won the Austria and Belgian Sprint races.
- Max scored his fourth hat-trick victory of the 2023 season at the Japanese GP, winning from pole position and setting the fastest lap. Max’s Q3 time was 0.581s quicker than any other driver – the largest margin seen at Suzuka for 20 years – while his fastest lap was 1.064s clear of his rivals.
- Perez is one of the few drivers to have raced at Losail Circuit before it became an F1 venue. Checo qualified and finished second in the GP2 Asia feature race in 2009, before coming from seventh place on the reverse-gird Sprint race to take victory.