Preview Qatar | Will momentum stay with Hamilton or will Verstappen win?

18-11-2021 08:06 | Updated: 18-11-2021 09:32
by GPblog.com
F1 News
Preview Qatar | Will momentum stay with Hamilton or will Verstappen win?

The Qatar Grand Prix is just around the corner and is the third and final race in the triple header with Mexico and Brazil. Lewis Hamilton dealt a decent blow to Max Verstappen in the last race, but what are the proportions in Qatar? Read all about the upcoming Grand Prix in GPblog's preview.

GP in Qatar

For the first time in history the Qatar Grand Prix is on the Formula 1 calendar and the organisers have got it right with a ten year deal. This year the race was mainly used as a substitute, but from 2023 the ten-year contract will start and the Qatar GP will be on the calendar every year.

Although there is protests against sporting events in this country due to the human rights that are often violated, the Middle Eastern country has already managed to bring Formula 1, the World Cup and previously the MotoGP to the country. Whether it will be a success depends on the circuit and the race itself.

Losail International Circuit

The Losail International Circuit was built within a year by 1,000 workers to deliver the circuit for the 2004 MotoGP race. In Lusail, a small town just above the capital Doha, is a fairly flat circuit that can be compared to the Bahrain International Circuit. Also here the races will be held under artificial light in the evening.

The circuit is 5.380km long and has 16 corners. The long straight is over a kilometre long and with a wide first corner, it offers the best chance for overtaking. Although the track has no elevation changes, it does have a cool flow. It alternates fast corners with slow ones, but it remains to be seen if it will be a real challenge for F1 drivers.

F1 in 2021

The 2021 Formula 1 season is coming to an end and while in recent years the season has been a dead heat, it is now more exciting than ever. With three races to go Verstappen has a 14 point lead over Hamilton, while Mercedes has an 11 point lead over Red Bull Racing. Everything is still open.

That tension is also felt by the teams, who try to attack each other from all angles. Mercedes are still trying to find new evidence to punish Verstappen for his defensive action towards Hamilton in Brazil. Red Bull on the other hand is investigating how Mercedes suddenly gained so much speed, looking at the engine, rear wing and also the apparent moving steering column.

Diplomacy is over, Toto Wolff announced after the Brazilian Grand Prix and that may well make for a tense atmosphere at Friday's press conference when Wolff and Christian Horner are due to sit side by side. The battle on track will also intensify.

Hamilton and the new engine in his W12 were unbeatable in Brazil, but how strong will the engine be on arrival in Qatar? On paper, this looks like a good circuit for a car with such a good engine, but on average the Mercedes engine won't last long this year.

Weather forecast

This weekend is another typical weekend in the Middle East. Here we don't have to reckon with rain, as there is no chance of it. It will also be warm in Lusail. According to Weather.com the maximum daytime temperature will be 28 degrees on Friday and Saturday but will rise to 30 degrees on Sunday.

Race forecast

In 2021, it is very difficult to make a prediction for the Grand Prix. In Brazil, Verstappen was by far the favourite, but it was Hamilton who drove to victory despite a disqualification and a grid penalty. The Mercedes looked unbeatable in Brazil, but can they match that level in Qatar?

The expectation is that it will be closer in Qatar. The flat track with a long straight normally favours Mercedes, but we still know little about the asphalt and the amount of grip on this track. The technical second sector should suit the RB16B, although we are racing at sea level here.

Hamilton and Mercedes are the favourites for this Grand Prix and it will be up to Verstappen to limit the damage. If he manages to win it will be a nice bonus, but second place is no disgrace in this race. He needs to make sure he finishes ahead of Bottas, which he normally does.

Qatar 2021 Grand Prix schedule

Friday

First free practice: 10:30-11:30

Second free practice: 14:00-15:00

Saturday

Third free practice: 11:00-12:00

Qualification: 14:00-15:00

Sunday

Race: 14:00-16:00

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