The 20th Formula 1 Grand Prix of the season kicks off on Friday. The teams arrived in Qatar on an unfamiliar track. How will the weekend go? Who will take the lead? How will the title contenders duel end? MK-sport tells about the main intrigues of the stage.
Before the stage
The autodrome in Qatar, where the next stage will take place, was built already in 2004. Its name is Losail. Interestingly, the race track mainly hosted the Moto GP series competitions, for which the track configuration was designed. And “Formula 1” came here for the first time.
Of the current riders, only Red Bull’s Sergio Perez has ever competed here. Then it was a youth competition in the GP2 Asia class. The Mexican won that race. At the same time, according to Cheko himself, he does not remember this track at all, and when studying it on the simulator he had the feeling that he was driving on it for the first time. Although the track configuration has not changed since then.
It is worth noting that Losail, like many other racing circuits, was not included in the original calendar for the 2021 season. But in the summer, when the F1 bosses drew up the final calendar for the end of the season, we had to take into account the fact that Brazil was on the list of “red” countries, upon returning from which citizens living in England were required to undergo a two-week quarantine. For reference: 7 out of 10 teams are based in Foggy Albion. So it was decided to fill this pause with a race in Qatar. So you can get additional income, and the teams will not go to the forced downtime.
Since the track is new for everyone, training will play a vital role in preparing for qualifications and the Grand Prix. Those who have not trained well on the simulator will have to look for basic settings right on the track and waste precious time to prepare for the main starts of the weekend.
Intrigue has returned to the championship. After the enchanting victory of Lewis Hamilton in Brazil, the gap was reduced to 14 points. Most admired the skill and psychological stability of the Briton after all the trials that fate presented to him. But last but not least, such a crazy jerk was a success for the Briton due to a combination of two factors: a new engine, which gave a monstrous increase in horses, as well as a fairly cool air and roadway temperature, which made it possible to successfully keep the tires on a Mercedes car in the optimal temperature window – unlike Red Bull.
This will no longer be the case in Qatar. It is, in principle, much hotter here, and the German engine, according to the boss of “Mercedes” Toto Wolf , is losing power very quickly this year. So Hamilton’s next victory is in question. Rather, it will be necessary to expect approximately equal speed between the two leaders, which means that quality pit stops and successful strategies will come to the fore.
Ferrari, McLaren and Gasley
In the fight for the third place in the team competition, there are still two contenders – the Italians and the British. But in the nomination “the best of the rest” at a separate stage, Pierre Gasly from “Alpha Tauri” also wedged himself into the fight recently . Now five riders are competing for the fifth starting place at once, and the chances of each of them are approximately equal.
In the upcoming Grand Prix, the most preferable are the guys from McLaren. A long straight line plus ultra-fast turns are the best fit for the “orange”. And in case of problems with one of the leaders, one of them will be able to climb higher. However, this season taught that not always the most obvious things come true, and surprises are not so rare.
Giovinazzi will slam the door loudly
Unfortunately for Antonio, Alfa Romeo chose not to renew his contract for 2022, choosing a Chinese driver with money and a large audience behind him.
The Italian was not unemployed for long, having signed a contract with one of the Formula E teams, in which, by the way, until recently Daniil Kvyat had claimed a place . But still, in the comments of Antonio after the dismissal, there was a resentment against his current employer.
So the rider must be extremely motivated for the last three stages. I’m sure Giovinazzi will try to slam the door loudly and achieve good results to prove to Alpha that they were wrong in their decision. Well, it will not be superfluous to show the product in front of a new employer.
Mazepin “turned on”
It looks like chemistry has finally emerged between the rider and his side of the garage. It is difficult to judge by only one stage, but Nikita’s comments after Brazil give such hope. Mazepin said that he was pleased with the way he conducted the race himself, with the way his engineers worked. Even Haas boss Gunther Steiner said it was “one of the best weekends of the season, which is a sign of progress.”
After all, the Americans did not develop this car from the very beginning of the season, having switched in advance to work with the car under the new regulations. And in F1, the more time you work on the car, the better your final result will be. It is highly probable that next year “Haas” will already fight for higher places.
So it is very important for Nikita now to give a strong ending to the season, in order, firstly, to feel more confident, and, secondly, to show his partner and his boss that he is in no way weaker than Schumacher Jr. That he is not number two on the team. It seems that the ice has broken in this matter.