F1 adds another questionable race with Qatar Grand Prix

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The global COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on the Formula 1 calendar over the past two seasons. As an international sport, F1 travels to nearly two dozen different countries each year, and each nation has responded to the pandemic in its own way, letting F1 navigate different protocols in each region. The contrasting approaches of each country have led to the cancellation of some races, such as the Grand Prix of China, Japan and Australia, for logistical reasons. While it’s sad to miss tracks like Suzuka and Melbourne Park, the cancellations have allowed F1 to instead visit a mix of new tracks, like Mugello and Portimao, and classic tracks that were long off the schedule. like Imola and Istanbul. To park.

Most of the new venues visited in the 2020 and 2021 seasons have been a hit with fans, but one new track has been met with contempt: the new Jeddah Street Circuit is set to host the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on December 5. While the narrow, winding track itself looks thrilling – if not a bit narrow for overtaking – the location and F1’s continued dependence on oil money and investment from governments with terrible rights records. The man didn’t appeal to many fans, with calls for a boycott of the race gathering momentum when the announcement was made in November last year.

But despite outcry over F1’s choice to race in Saudi Arabia, this week F1 announced another race in the Middle East hosted by a country that has come under scrutiny for rights violations. of man. On November 21, F1 will visit the Losail International Circuit for the very first Grand Prix of Qatar, which effectively replaces this year’s Australian Grand Prix. Not only have F1 decided to use Qatar as a substitute this season, but the series have signed a deal to host a Qatar Grand Prix for 10 consecutive years starting in 2023.

Again, the trail isn’t the main issue here, but it doesn’t look very promising either. Losail is a 16-turn circuit built in 2004 and has been a mainstay of MotoGP since its construction. It already carried an FIA Grade 1 license, so no major changes need to be made for F1 to race in it, making it an obvious choice as a filler for this year’s calendar. However, it only features a single true straight and therefore a single DRS zone, and overtaking will likely be rare anywhere other than Turn 1. Constant turns could end up putting a lot of stress on the tires, which could make it difficult to pass. the Grand Prix of Qatar more difficult. a race of strategy than a party of overtaking. The complex of Turns 12, 13 and 14 is expected to be flat, similar to Turn 8 in Turkey, and should be particularly hard on the tires.

While Losail doesn’t produce a lot of battles, the race there this season will likely be unique. When the Qatar Grand Prix becomes a fixture on the calendar from 2023, it is expected to move to a new location, with current rumors suggesting a street circuit in Doha, which also might not allow much passage anyway. Notably, the Qatar Grand Prix will jump in 2022, with Qatar keen to focus on hosting the FIFA World Cup next year.

In order to host the World Cup, Qatar is expected to spend $ 220 billion to build the infrastructure for the tournament, which includes numerous hotels and stadiums. In fact, Lusail City, where this year’s F1 tournament and race will take place, doesn’t even exist yet. The city was created from scratch after Qatar won the World Cup bid in December 2010 and is still being finished.

Most of the people who took part in the construction of this new city are migrant workers, many of whom come from South Asian countries like India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Migrant workers face brutally hot conditions in Qatar and have little protections against harassment at work, often being forced into situations that look like involuntary servitude or slavery. According to The Guardian, more than 6,500 migrant workers have died since the World Cup bid was won, and although not all of these workers were in Lusail City, much of the migrant workforce has been involved. in the World Cup project. In addition, Qatar has done little to investigate these deaths, fail to explain about 70% of deaths, which allows the prime contractors to continue with the operating plan.

Obviously, Qatar’s history of mistreating migrant workers is alarming and would seem to be a good reason not to organize a race there. But what’s even more concerning is that while F1 may be racing on an existing circuit this year, the Doha urban circuit for 2023 would require construction work. This would likely mean that the track F1 drivers race on in two years could be built by the same migrant workforce who worked hard and died to build the World Cup venues.

Not only is it despicable that F1 is teaming up with a nation that has such a disrespect for human rights, but F1’s decision goes against F1’s cheesy and bogus slogan “we don’t. let’s be one ”. The fact that homosexuality is illegal in Qatar only adds to the irony of F1’s marketing jargon. F1 is so greedy for money that it will keep repeating ‘we run as one’ while working closely with a Qatari government that has utter disregard for the living conditions of its workforce and a Saudi government that murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi in cold blood in 2018 and committed countless other atrocities.

It is not new or surprising that motorsport funding has come from piecemeal sources. Racing is incredibly expensive and teams and drivers have long taken all the funding they could get, whether they come from shady bogus companies like Rich in energy, immoral mega-companies like tobacco giant Philip Morris International or even drug traffic. But just because not caring about morals has been the status quo for so long doesn’t mean that F1 should continue down this path.

While it may not be possible to eliminate dirty money entirely from the equation, Liberty Media has a chance to steer F1 into a brighter future where their slogan ‘we race as one’ has a real meaning, but instead those who run the sport have, with the Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, shown themselves to be as greedy and heartless as ever.

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