The Lusail circuit served only as a Formula 1 stopgap in 2021 since it was a MotoGP track that didn’t suit F1.
Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani visited the Lusail International Circuit to witness renovation works at the track on Monday, just months before the facility is due to host the highly anticipated Formula 1 Qatar Grand Prix in October.
Several ministers and senior officials accompanies the amir, who explored new buildings, various logistical services, and tech-savvy supplies.
In 2021, Qatar hosted its first-ever Formula One Grand Prix, replacing the cancelled Australian GP. The unexpected move led the country to revamp the Lusail Circuit in a short amount of time during the height of the Covid pandemic.
While the expansive upgrade fixated on the circuit, it did not revise the track layout.
Holding an 8,000 capacity, the 16-turn circuit 2021 revamp was the biggest project of its kind since its opening in 2004.
“Modification will be mainly focused on the pit lane area” the Inspector for Security of the Federation, Giuseppe Muscioni told La Gazzetta dello Sport on the 2021 revamp.
“In particular at the entrance curve, where protection made of guardrails, tires and nets will be created that will start from about 30 meters before,” the FIA official voiced.
However, despite the revamp in 2021, the Lusail Circut is still seen by many as a bike track primarily because it’s hosted several motor tournaments.
Managing the GP2 Asia Series, World Touring Car Championship and the one-season Grand Prix Masters series for retired F1 drivers back in 2006, the facility’s hosting of the Formula One racing received backlash from MotoGP drivers.
“I love Qatar, I love the circuit, and Formula 1 cars destroy everything with their downforce. Let’s see what happens,” Franco Morbidelli said upon the news of the 2021 circuit modifications.
“I’m happy for the Qatari people because they’ll be able to enjoy MotoGP and F1, which is fantastic, but regarding the track it is very flat and very good right now, and I hope that they won’t destroy it so much,” the Italian driver added.
Regardless of the criticism by MotoGP drivers, Qatar’s F1 debut was quite successful, and several racers said the circuit was better than expected.
“I think it’s the fastest circuit I can remember visiting this year in terms of almost no slow corners here, which definitely makes it an interesting challenge,” former Russian Haas Driver Nikita Mazepin said after his race at the 2021 Qatar Grand Prix.
F1 crowned GOAT Lewis Hamilton also chimed in on the track stating,” This is a new track, it felt okay to drive, quite nice, and no real issues, but it’s all high-speed corners so it’s quite physical.”
Despite Qatar getting a late-notice slot, the Qatar motorsport federation intends to keep the Lusail circuit as the venue for Formula 1’s Qatar Grand Prix into the next decade.
Speaking to media during the unveiling of the Lusail track’s 2024-2029 deal with the World Endurance Championship, Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation president Abdulrahman bin Abdullatif Al Mannai confirmed the Lusail track would be the host for the signed 10-year deal that was inked in 2021.
“It’s an amazing car track,” Al Mannai said. “Formula 1 drivers, they actually came to me and they said ‘we don’t understand why it took us so long to come here’.
“We’re not changing the layout of the circuit,” added Al Mannai. “We evaluated this, we looked at it closely and we really didn’t see any reason why we should change the layout.
“Because it’s really fantastic for MotoGP, and we tested with Formula 1 [in 2021] and all the drivers, they were very happy with it, they were very excited.
“At the end of the day, why change something really good? So, the upgrade – we call it an upgrade project, to upgrade the infrastructure, to bring in new technologies, and also to make it futureproof.”