As F1 heads to Doha for the inaugural Qatar GP in November, there have been several changes made to the Losail International Circuit, which was primarily used to host MotoGP previously.
According to FIA racing director Michael Masi, one of the most significant changes is the one made to the pitlane entry of the circuit. Speaking to the media during the Turkish Grand Prix weekend, Masi explained the modifications, saying:
“They're changing the pitlane entry completely. So what was the pitlane entry for bikes will change, dramatically. That work is nearly completed.”
The Australian, who will head to the Qatar GP circuit this weekend to inspect the changes, said:
“It's a very different ilk in the MotoGP or FIM world. So it's been trying to adapt in a relatively short period, which is the other part that we need to consider, that we're not talking about a huge period of time. I'll head there again next weekend, prior to Austin, to have a look, but nearly all the works have been completed.”
Tweaking a circuit that has predominantly been used for bike racing can be a challenge of its own. The Qatar GP was only announced in September and wasn’t supposed to debut on the F1 calendar until 2023. However, due to the cancelation of some races in light of the pandemic, the promoters were eager to host in 2021 itself, despite the considerable task of tweaking the circuit within a short span of time.
Mentioning other changes made to the Qatar GP circuit, Masi said:
“Obviously, the big parts have been safety requirements for bikes when it comes to Tecpro barriers and things like that. There's a number of double kerbs that have been installed.”
Explaining the transition work at hand for the Qatar GP organizers, Masi added:
“Obviously, the circuit is ostensibly a bike circuit. So, apex sausages, so people don't cut corners on the inside, double kerbs on exits, are the big one from a circuit perspective.”
The Australian also said that there were a “significant number of barrier upgrades” due to the number of Tecpro barriers at the Qatar GP venue.
However, according to the FIA race director, the most significant change to the track was the pitlane entry upgrade. Speaking of the existing garage complex at the Qatar GP venue, Masi said:
“I think it's about 40 garages as a base number. And when we were there, they'd already finished an extra 10, if I recall correctly. So there's 50 pitlane garages in total. There's more than enough space. Garages, paddock space, all things like that were all fine from the circuit end. I think it'll be a good little venue for this year.”
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Apart from the technical changes at the circuit, there are new paddock hospitality buildings being added to the infrastructure. The inaugural F1 Qatar GP will be held on the floodlit 5.38km layout, with the race weekend scheduled to span from November 19-21, 2021.