Formula 1 will touch down in Qatar in time for the Qatar GP. This three-day race weekend, beginning on October 6, will be the second time they have raced there, having first done so in 2021. After a one-year hiatus, the critically-acclaimed race is back to provide some exciting racing action.
With the Constructors’ Championship already wrapped up, Red Bull and Max Verstappen will have the chance to scoop up another trophy during the Qatar GP. In a refreshing change of pace, they could do so on Saturday evening itself, making this one of the rare times when a championship is decided before the actual grand prix itself. This is down to the fact that this one is a sprint weekend, which means the sprint race and the available points can mathematically help Verstappen win his third world championship.
Ahead of the Qatar GP weekend, here is everything you need to know, including the details of the race, previous incidents, and what to look forward to.
١. Where and when is the Qatar GP taking place?
The Qatar GP is set to take place at the Lusail International Circuit, Doha, from October 6 (Friday) to October 8 (Sunday). There will be free practice, qualifying, sprint shootout, sprint race, and the grand prix on offer for fans. Practice and qualifying take place on Friday, sprint shootout and race take place on Saturday, and the grand prix serves as the only event on Sunday.
٢. How can Max Verstappen become champion?
Following his win in Japan, Max Verstappen now sits within touching distance of his third world championship. He can clinch the title in Qatar and begin the celebrations, but there is some work to be done before that. The good news for him is that barring a monumental collapse, he is all but guaranteed to leave Qatar with the 2023 title.
Verstappen can become champion as early as Saturday, should he finish sixth or higher in the sprint race. Should he manage to pull it off, Sergio Perez, his nearest title rival, will be mathematically eliminated from title contention no matter his result during the sprint. This will ensure a Red Bull double scoop in 2023.
٣. Who won here the last time?
The last time F1 had a Qatar GP weekend was during the 2021 season. It was the first of three consecutive races in the Middle East, the others being the Saudi Arabian GP and the Abu Dhabi GP. It was a memorable F1 debut for the Qatar track, providing a fantastic race full of overtakes and other incidents.
Mercedes-AMG’s Lewis Hamilton won the 2021 race in convincing fashion. He led the race from the opening lap and finished it more than 20 seconds ahead of Verstappen in P2. The latter set the fastest lap and was followed by Fernando Alonso in P3 for his first podium of 2021.
٤. What can we expect from the 2023 race?
The Qatar GP can be vital for the 2023 F1 World Championship standings. While the top spot is almost gone, there is plenty of action happening elsewhere. The fight for P2 in the Constructors’ Championship between Mercedes and Ferrari is heating up, and this weekend could serve as a major boost for either team.
Losail is a track where tyres heat up quickly, allowing for very interesting strategy battles. Expect to see a variety of tyre choices at the start and pit stops that influence track position. One can also expect some good overtakes and wheel-to-wheel action. All in all, it should be a cracker of a weekend in Doha.