Formula 1 to host first Qatar Grand Prix in November ahead of 10-year deal | Formula One


Qatar will host its first Formula 1 Grand Prix in November to fill the gap left vacant by the cancellation of the Australian GP. The race will take place at the Losail International Circuit, 20 miles from Doha on November 21, with Qatar set to join the F1 calendar under a 10-year contract from 2023.

The inclusion of Qatar before Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi host the final rounds of the campaign on December 5 and 12 respectively, means Lewis Hamilton’s championship battle with Max Verstappen will end with three races in the Middle East. .

Formula 1 inevitably faced allegations of sports washing, with human rights issues under scrutiny in the Gulf state, and Amnesty International immediately called on the sport’s drivers to speak out against human rights violations at the approaching the GP.

The Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix (November 7 and 14) are expected to take place, although both countries are on the UK government’s red list due to the high number of Covid-19 cases.

Qatar, the venue for next winter’s FIFA World Cup, will host the final race of a triple title on successive Sundays after complications from redlisted Mexico and Brazil and mandatory quarantine hotels for thousands of employees across the UK’s seven countries. based teams. Despite a number of races canceled this year, including in Singapore, Canada, Japan and China, F1 will complete a record 22 round season. Hamilton is heading into the final seven rounds, starting with Turkey next weekend, with a two-point lead over Verstappen.

Lewis Hamilton (right) and Max Verstappen are two points separated after the Russian Grand Prix. Photograph: Getty Images

F1 said: “We are very grateful to the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation and the Qatari authorities for their enthusiasm and support in hosting a race this season, in the short term.

“We are also very grateful for their efforts so that the race can take place in November at the Losail International Circuit. There was a strong desire from Qatar to be useful to F1 and during this process the vision of a longer partnership was discussed and accepted for 10 years.

“As part of the longer-term deal, discussions will continue regarding the location of the grand prix from 2023, with further details to be provided at a later date.”

Amnesty International UK CEO Sacha Deshmukh said: “It is no secret that the rich countries of the Middle East see high performance sport as a means to rename and wash their image, and a grand prix in Qatar would be more or less the same.

“After investing huge sums of money in Paris Saint-Germain and hiring thousands of foreign workers to build stadiums for next year’s World Cup, Qatar is clearly trying to transform itself into a sports superpower . “

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Deshmukh also highlighted the country’s allegations of ill-treatment of migrant workers and “its restrictions on freedom of expression and its criminalization of same-sex relationships.”

“Formula 1 should insist that all contracts relating to this race contain strict labor standards in all supply chains. The drivers and their teams must be prepared to talk about human rights in Qatar ahead of this race, doing their part to break the spell of sportwashing and image management.

An F1 spokesperson said: “For decades Formula 1 has worked hard to be a positive force wherever it races, including economic, social and cultural benefits. Sports like Formula 1 are uniquely placed to cross borders and cultures to bring countries and communities together to share the passion and excitement of incredible competition and achievement. We take our rights responsibilities very seriously and set high ethical standards for counterparties and members of our supply chain, which are enshrined in contracts, and we pay close attention to their observance.

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