Toto Wolff: We knew our pace in Japan wouldn’t match what we had been able to show in Singapore. They are very different circuits and the characteristics of Suzuka highlighted the weaknesses of the W14.
It was therefore important that we limited the damage to Ferrari in the Championship. With six races to go, we are relishing the fight and will be giving it our all to stay ahead, starting this weekend in Qatar.
We return to Lusail for the first time since 2021. The inaugural Grand Prix there was a successful one for us, so we are looking forward to going back. With its sweeping turns, it’s a demanding circuit and one the drivers also enjoy.
Since our last visit, there have been changes both on and off track. A key feature of FP1 therefore will be understanding the effect of the track resurfacing. As it is a Sprint weekend, we will have limited time to get on top of this and find a solid set-up for the rest of the event. It will be an interesting task and one we are excited for.
Fact File: Qatar Grand Prix
• The F1 Sprint returns for the first time since the Belgian Grand Prix back in August.
• This will be the fourth sprint event of the season, following Baku, Austria, and Spa.
• There are still two more sprint events to come before the end of the season: the United States Grand Prix in Austin and the So Paulo Grand Prix at Interlagos.
• Following F1’s inaugural visit to the Lusail International Circuit back in 2021, the circuit has been completely resurfaced.
• Understanding how this has impacted on grip and tyre degradation will be a key focus for the team during FP1.
• That will be particularly crucial this weekend as we enter parc ferm conditions ahead of qualifying on Friday evening.
• A completely new pit and paddock complex has been constructed at the track in time for this year’s race.
• This will include larger pit garages, new team buildings, and new access tunnels.
• Temperatures during the day in Doha are forecast to reach close to 40C this week.
• Qualifying, the F1 Sprint, and the Grand Prix itself take place at night, and therefore temperatures are expected to average a more comfortable 27C.
• However, FP1 and the Sprint Shootout will take place before sunset and temperatures, and thus track conditions, could therefore vary quite dramatically.
• The race in 2021 saw a number of punctures attributed to the flatter kerbs of the Lusail circuit. Unspecified work has been carried out on these ahead of this year’s race so that will be a focus of understanding ahead of running on Friday.
• The track has a fast and flowing nature as it is predominantly used for motorcycle racing.
• There is only one corner, turn six, that sees the minimum speed drop below 100 km/h.
• There are therefore no heavy braking events for us to tackle, a unique occurrence on the 2023 calendar.
• The braking energy requirement is therefore low; there are still six braking events that the cars encounter across the lap.
• There are 16 corners in total: 10 to the right and six to the left. The track’s main straight covers over 1km of the total lap distance and is the sole DRS zone on the circuit.
• The pit lane in Qatar is the third longest of any circuit we visit on the calendar, behind only Imola and Silverstone.
• It clocks in at 450 metres and the expected pit lane time is over 20 seconds.