Formula 1 announced this Thursday that it will race in Qatar on 21 November, completing the only date that was still open in the category’s 2021 championship. By the way, the country signed a 10-year contract with this category starting in 2023. The addition of this phase in the Middle East will bring a major logistics over the weekend after the So Paulo GP, starting in the evening. The challenge to the category, and is directly related to the travel restrictions that Brazil still faces due to the pandemic.
At the moment, only two of the seven countries that have hosted Formula 1 races this year are on the UK Red List: Mexico and Brazil. This means that on return from these countries, those living in England must be quarantined for 10 days in a government-determined hotel. Since seven of the 10 teams in the category are based on British soil, as well as the operation of commercial rights holder Liberty Media, British government regulations are very important to the calendar.
In order not to miss the Mexican and Brazilian stages, F1 put them in order, the Mexican GP on 8 November and the So Paulo GP on 14th. And, for the plan to escape the British quarantine to work, it would be necessary to take the third step in order. After months in which various possibilities were studied, an agreement was reached with the government of Qatar.
Thus, professionals in the category travel from the last days of October depending on their role (for example, go before other team members setting up garages) and only return home after 10 days of service outside Brazil. ie, GP is played after Qatar.
In the final stages of the championship the teams tried to stop this triple round due to a severe shortage of their staff, but the financial losses would be significant. Calculating the fees Mexico City and So Paulo pay annually to get their races, the values are in the region of $50 million.
The last pending confirmation is in relation to a request for exemption from quarantine that anyone who has passed through the UK in the past 14 days is subject to entry into Brazil. During the championship, other countries had similar restrictions as the British, such as Belgium, Holland and Russia, and the race could only take place because exemptions were given because it is a sporting event with tighter control of the pandemic.
To guarantee these steps, despite both countries being on the British Red List, the logistical effort would be great: equipment arrives by sea via three separate shipments (one for the United States and Mexico stages, One for Brazil and another for others), while cars and other more valuable parts are shipped by air, being packed on race night to be shipped as quickly as possible. This is because the cars have to be ready for inspection by next Thursday.
It would not be the first time that Formula 1 has pulled out of Brazil to stage a stage in the Middle East next weekend: this was done in 2010, when the category moved to So Paulo on 7 November and on 14 November. Abu Dhabi. At that time, there were delays in loading, with the pieces arriving just before the first free practice on Friday, but the stage (including a championship decision) was played as normal.
After the Qatar race, F1 will have two other races in the Middle East, in Saudi Arabia on 5 December and Abu Dhabi on 12 December.
The “new” GP has resulted in a good race
At least for fans, there’s a bright side to all this effort: Formula 1 has had to get creative over the past two seasons to make it to its calendar in the midst of the pandemic.
In 2020, the category had 17 GPs starting its calendar in July, adding tracks that were not part of the championship for a long time (such as Imola, Turkey and the Nürburgring), and three newcomers (Portugal, Sakhir and Mugello). ).
And the recipe worked. Most of these contests were exciting, causing fans to celebrate when Imola, Portugal and Turkey were relegated as substitutes this year. The race in Istanbul is, in fact, the next in a championship that has been disputed between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. The Englishman goes into the 16th leg on 10 October, just two points ahead of his opponent.