2023 Qatar Grand Prix: Selected Tyres – For the Qatar Grand Prix, teams will have C1 as P Zero White hard, C2 as P Zero Yellow medium, and C3 as P Zero Red soft. This is the same nomination made for the previous race, in Japan.
As well as new asphalt, there is also new infrastructure at Losail. The pit garages, originally designed for MotoGP, have been enlarged and increased in number. There’s also a new race control facility and media centre.
The only Qatar Grand Prix held so far was won by Lewis Hamilton. The Mercedes driver, who started from pole, won ahead of Max Verstappen’s Red Bull (which set fastest lap) and Fernando Alonso, driving for Alpine at the time.
A wide range of strategies was seen two years ago. Half the drivers started on Softs with the other half on Mediums, while the number of pit stops varied from one to three. Hamilton won with a two-stopper, completing two initial stints on the medium tyre before a final stint on the Hard.
Doha will be a night race, with qualifying and the grand prix starting at 20:00 (local time). On Saturday, the Sprint Shootout will start at 16:00 and the Sprint race itself at 20:30. There are no support races on the schedule, which means that the track will not be rubbered in from other cars.
Although some green spaces were specifically built around the circuit, sand often blows onto the surface from the surrounding desert. This makes track evolution another key factor, which will be accentuated by the new asphalt.
Ambient temperatures are high in Qatar at this time of year, peaking beyond 40°C during the week leading up to the race. But the later time of the sessions compared to 2021 should lead to a wider temperature range than was seen two years ago.
MARIO ISOLA – PIRELLI HEAD OF MOTORSPORT
“Formula 1 now returns to Qatar, two years after its debut there in 2021. But in many ways, it’s another new beginning, as the cars are now very different to the ones we saw a couple of years ago and the Losail circuit has been completely resurfaced, with modified kerbs as well. On paper, the track’s main features remain the same – with a main straight just over a kilometre long and 16 corners – but it’s clear that the changes made over the last two years mean that the data collected from the first grand prix is only relatively useful.
“In terms of severity, Losail is a very challenging circuit for tyres, similar to Silverstone and Suzuka. So it’s no coincidence that the compounds chosen are the same: C1, C2, and C3. There’s quite a variety of corners, most of them medium speed and high speed. The series of corners between Turns 12 and 14 is quite reminiscent of the famous Turn 8 at Istanbul: one of the most demanding corners for tyres in the recent history of Formula 1. This sequence is also one of the most influential factors to a good lap time. The fact that 11 of the 16 corners are right-handers puts particular stress on the left of the car, especially at the front, but the energy levels seen going through the tyres in 2021 were still quite well-balanced between the two axles.
“Another factor making the Qatar Grand Prix even more challenging for us as well as the drivers and the teams is the return of the Sprint format. Just one hour of free practice will be available on Friday to determine the set-up and assess tyre behaviour over long runs; furthermore that session happens in the heat of the day – which will warm up the asphalt – as opposed to qualifying and the two races, which take place at night. So everything is in place for an interesting weekend as well as perhaps a few surprises; the ability to adapt quickly and well to the track could deliver a significant advantage.”