The Losail International Circuit will make its F1 debut on November 21, 2021 as Qatar has been named as the replacement for the Japanese GP, which was canceled in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the series announced the country will host an F1 race for 10 years beginning in 2023.
The 2021 event will fill the slot originally scheduled for the Australian GP and creates a three-race swing through the Middle East with Saudi Arabia and the Abu Dhabi to complete the 22-race schedule. Saudi Arabia’s GP will also be the first in that country, giving F1 back-to-back inaugural events. The Saudi GP was created to replace the Vietnam GP, which was also affected by the pandemic.
“There was a strong will from Qatar to be helpful to F1, and in the course of this process, the vision for a longer partnership was discussed and agreed for 10 years,” F1 said in a statement.
The race will occur one year prior to Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup, which will delay the sophomore F1 season to 2023.
“The step from the gesture to be helpful to F1 in 2021 to a long term strategy was short and simple and the vision for F1 to be the showcase for Qatar after the FIFA World Cup in 2022 was the driving force behind this long term agreement,” the statement continued. “As part of the longer-term deal, discussions will continue regarding the location for the Grand Prix from 2023 with further details to be provided at a later time.”
Between 2021 and 2023 F1 officials will work with Qatar as they either upgrade Losail or create a new circuit. The 2021 race will be run under the lights.
“We have shown that we can continue to adapt and there is huge interest in our sport and the hope from many locations to have a Grand Prix,” said F1 President and CEO Stefano Domenicali. “The huge effort from all the teams, F1 and the FIA has made it possible to deliver a 22-race calendar, something that is very impressive during a challenging year and something we can all be proud of.”
Losail is best known as host to the MotoGP series since 2004.
“This exciting agreement means that Qatar will be the home of both Formula 1 and MotoGP for the next decade, which are the pinnacle events in global motorsport,” said Abdulrahman Al-Mannai, President of Qatar Motor & Motorcycle Federation. “We have a proud motorsport history and this is the next chapter for us. Qatar will be a great destination for F1 and we look forward to welcoming all the drivers, teams, media and fans very soon.”