This weekend Formula 1 returns to the spotlight with the second edition of the Qatar Grand Prix. On the Losail track, Pirelli – sole supplier of tires to Formula 1 – will bring the following compounds:
Pirelli PZero White Hard C1
Pirelli PZero Yellow Medium C2
Pirelli PZero Red Soft C3
We remind you that the 2023 Pirelli range goes from C0, the hardest compound, to C5, the softest one, so it is one of the hardest choices possible.
The tires on the track
In addition to the new asphalt, the facilities at the Lusail racetrack have been renovated. The garages, initially designed for MotoGP races, have been enlarged and increased in number. Furthermore, a new race control and press room were built. The only Qatar Grand Prix held so far was won by Lewis Hamilton. The Mercedes driver, who started from pole position, preceded the Red Bull of Max Verstappen, author of the fastest lap, and Fernando Alonso, then at Alpine, under the checkered flag. The range of strategies witnessed two years ago was wide. Half of the drivers started on the Soft and the other half on the Medium but the number of stops varied from just one to three. Lewis Hamilton won with two stops (putting the Mediums twice and then the Hards in the last stint). In Doha the races will take place at night, with qualifying and the race starting at 8pm local time. On Saturday the Sprint Shootout will be at 4pm while the Sprint race will be at 8.30pm. No other support races are planned so the track will not be able to rubberize thanks to the use by other cars. Despite the green areas built specifically around the circuit, the desert sand often dirty the Doha track, making the evolution of the track very significant, which will be even more accentuated by the new asphalt. Air temperatures are high in Qatar at this time of year. In the week before the Grand Prix, highs reached 40°C. However, the postponement of track sessions compared to 2021 should allow for a greater temperature range compared to the values recorded two years ago.
Qatar GP: Mario Isola’s analysis
Mario Isola, head of Pirelli’s motorsport section, commented on the peculiarities of the Losail track: “Formula 1 returns to Qatar two years after its debut, which took place in 2021. In a certain sense, what is scheduled for the weekend is almost a debut, both because the current single-seaters are very different from those used two years ago, and because the route of the Lusail International Circuit has been completely resurfaced and the curbs have been modified. On paper, the characteristics of the track have remained unchanged – a main straight just over a kilometer long and 16 curves – but it is clear that the changes that have occurred in these two years make the data collected in the first edition of this Grand Prix relatively significant.”
“In terms of tire severity, Losail is a very demanding circuit, comparable to Silverstone and Suzuka: it is no coincidence that the trio of compounds chosen for this race is the same, namely C1-C2-C3. There are different types of corners, most of them medium and high speed. The series of corners between 12 and 14 is quite reminiscent of Turn 8 of the Istanbul circuit, one of the most demanding on the tires in the recent history of Formula 1. and it is one of the decisive points for obtaining a good lap time. The fact that eleven of the 16 corners are on the right puts particular strain on the left side of the car, especially the front corner, but the energy levels recorded on the tires in 2021 were however quite well balanced between the two axes”.
“What will make the Qatar Grand Prix even more challenging for us, the teams and the drivers, will be the fact that this weekend will see the return of the Sprint format. There will therefore only be one hour of free practice available on Friday to decide the set-up and evaluate the behavior of the tires over the long distance, moreover scheduled when the sun will still be heating the asphalt while the qualifying and the two races will be held at night. There are therefore all the elements to witness a interesting weekend and, who knows, a harbinger of some surprises: whoever can adapt better and quickly to the track could gain an important advantage.”
Minimum pressures at the start (slick tyres)
Front: 25.0 psi
Rear: 21.5 psi