Digging deep in the Gulf
Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN heads to uncharted territory at this weekend’s Qatar Grand Prix, the 20th race of the 2021 season and the final part of a triple-header spanning three continents. The team is ready to tackle the Losail International Circuit, a track that makes its first appearance in the Formula One calendar, for the first of three floodlit races in a row.
After two events in two weeks in the Americas, north and south of the Panama Canal, the team embarks on the long journey to the Middle East, more than 10,000km away, to bring this gruelling triple-header to an end. Bodies and minds are weary but the determination and commitment of the team are unwavering. With just three rounds remaining in the championship, every lap counts in our quest for points, and every lap can represent an opportunity to grasp with both hands.
This is even truer in Qatar: racing on a track that was not even in the calendar until not long ago, and on which no Formula One car has ever been run in anger. A staple in the MotoGP season, Losail will be like one of the Arab tales retold in Doha’s souq, slowly revealing its secrets as page after page of the weekend is written. North of the capital city, the track is expected to undergo a dramatic evolution from session to session as more rubber is deposited on the surface, increasing its grip. The dust is blown away with each passing car, just as the drivers acquire confidence and push ever harder: qualifying, after three session of practice devoted to discovery and set-up fine-tuning, should be a sight to behold.
The unexpected awaits behind every corner: in such an exposed region, the track can be hit by some of the strongest wind in the Peninsula, with sand being blown onto the track and grip levels being set back wildly. It’s an added jeopardy that only adds to the fascination this event fills us with. Like in those Arab tales, spun by fishermen as they while the day away on their dhows, there can be twists and surprises. Like in those tales, there will be villains and heroes: we sure do hope to be the ones getting away into the Gulf night with untold riches, in the form of points, in the end…