Formula 1 is readying to return to Qatar and the Lusail International Circuit, the venue having undergone a major makeover in its time away.
The venue first appeared on the Formula 1 calendar in 2021 as the series continued to grapple with the impacts of the global pandemic, but after a 2022 absence due to the football World Cup taking place in the nation, Qatar is back for F1 2023.
This marks the start of a 10-year deal for Formula 1 to go racing in Qatar, with the Lusail International Circuit having enjoyed a huge helping of home improvements ahead of welcoming F1 back.
Capacity increase and new viewing area among the upgrades
While the layout of the track has not changed, it is safe to say that much of the area and facilities surrounding it has been levelled-up in a major way.
The grandstands are now able to accommodate 40,000 people, while a new elevated viewing area at Turn 1 called ‘Lusail Hill’ has been installed for general admission ticket spectators, with a new overall circuit capacity of 52,000, compared to 8,000 when F1 first visited two years ago.
As well as the addition of new five-star VIP zones, select ones offering pit-lane walks and F1 driver talks, the public fan zone has also been enlarged and 50 pit boxes have been introduced, meaning the Lusail International Circuit now boasts the most pit boxes of any venue on the F1 calendar.
85 viewing screens have been installed around the track to allow fans, and sometimes the drivers as well, to better keep up with all the action throughout the race weekend, while 180,000 square meters of green space has been created as part of the renovations, which have been carried out by Qatar’s Public Works Authority ‘Ashghal’.
Commenting on the circuit revamp, Abdulrahman bin Abdullatif Al Mannai, President of Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation and Lusail International Circuit, said: “This stunning and extensive remodelling is the product of months of hard work, ambition, and imagination, and is a fitting introduction to what promises to be a thrilling weekend of motorsports.
“Our long-term agreement with F1 marks a significant advancement for Qatar, which is rapidly gaining a reputation as a renowned host for some of the world’s most prestigious sporting events, that are sure to serve fans on all fronts.”
The sprint format will be back in action for the Qatar Grand Prix, held from October 6-8, meaning traditional qualifying will take place on Friday to set the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix, with qualifying for the sprint and the sprint race taking place on Saturday.