We’re still buzzing from last weekend’s enthralling race in Brazil that saw Lewis Hamilton cut the deficit to 14 points with three races remaining. It has been the season that keeps on giving, with drama on and off the track as the two juggernauts, Mercedes and Red Bull, slug it out.
The seven-time world champion showed his mettle despite being disqualified from the sprint race and starting in 10th position in the race to overtake championship rival Max Verstappen claim an amazing win.
Qatar serves as the last race in the triple-header before the teams head to Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi for the finale. The first two races in the triple-header saw Verstappen’s Red Bull dominate while the straight-line speed of the Mercedes and Hamilton’s superb driving meant the defending constructors’ champions increased their lead in the standings.
The first-ever Qatar GP takes place at the Losail International Circuit, and on paper, should lean in favour of the Mercedes. They have a significant-top speed advantage down long straights, and although there’s only one DRS zone (T16-T1), the maximum speed is 321 km/h. The track was only opened in 2004 and no F1 car has set a tyre on the asphalt. In terms of length, it measures 5.380 km, with a main straight of 1068 metres. It’s also the start of night races for the next three Grand Prix.
The unpredictability of the 2021 season sees Hamilton and Verstappen as joint-favourites for the title. There is very little to separate them and with Hamilton sporting a new engine that he took in Sao Paulo he will want to make sure it lasts until the end of the season.
As we’re in the Middle East, the weather is set to be hot and sunny for all three days with air temperatures in the high 20s. Outside the top twos battle, Ferrari and McLaren are battling to claim the third spot. The former is 31 points behind the Italian team and could have an advantage in the last three races if the Mercedes engine performs as many expect it to.