Qatar will stage a Formula 1 race for the first time in November, with a 10-year deal having been signed for the country to become a regular fixture on the motorsport series’ calendar from 2023.
The Losail International Circuit will host the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix from November 19-21, with telecommunications company Ooredoo to serve as the title sponsor. The circuit has hosted a MotoGP event since 2004.
Discussions regarding the location of F1’s Qatar Grand Prix from 2023 onwards will continue, with further details to be provided at a later time amid reports that a street circuit will be preferred. No event will be held in 2022 as Qatar is hosting the FIFA World Cup and F1 said that the series will serve as a showcase for the nation in the aftermath of the national team football tournament.
The Losail International Circuit is located just outside of Doha. The Qatar Grand Prix becomes the final addition to the 2021 calendar and will be held in between races in Brazil and Saudi Arabia, with the latter also making its F1 debut this year.
F1 has agreed the hosting deal with the Qatar Motor & Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) and the Qatari authorities.
F1 president Stefano Domenicali said: “We are very pleased to welcome Qatar to the Formula 1 calendar this season and for the longer term from 2023. The Qatar Motor & Motorcycle Federation and authorities have been incredible and have moved at great speed to ensure the race can take place this season at the Losail Circuit, famous to many as the host of MotoGP.
“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. 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.”
QMMF president Abdulrahman Al-Mannai added: “This is a very special day for Qatar motorsport and our nation’s ambitions as a host of major sporting events. I’m very proud that we’ve been able to support Formula 1 by stepping in and hosting a race in our country in such a short timeframe, while also securing a ground-breaking long term deal with F1.
“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. 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.”
F1 had been hoping to stage a record 23 races this season but the pandemic has led to the cancellation of races in Japan, Australia and Singapore. The latter has been replaced by Turkey, which will stage Round 16 of the season from October 8-10.
The addition of Qatar takes the total number of F1 races in the Middle East to four, with Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi already on the calendar.
The decision to award Qatar hosting rights has drawn criticism from human-rights organisation Amnesty International. In a statement reported by the BBC, the group has called on drivers and teams to speak out about human rights in Qatar in the lead-up to the race, and also urged F1 to “insist that all contracts pertaining to this race contain stringent labour standards across all supply chains”.