Formula One will hold its first grand prix in Qatar in November to fill the vacant space left by the canceled Australian GP. The race will take place at the Losail International Circuit, 20 miles outside of Doha, on November 21, and Qatar will join the F1 calendar on a 10-year contract starting in 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 that Lewis Hamilton’s championship battle with Max Verstappen will end with three races in the Middle East.
Formula One has inevitably faced allegations of sports washing, with human rights issues under scrutiny in the Gulf state, and Amnesty International has immediately called on the sport’s drivers to speak out against human rights abuses in the period. prior to the GP.
The Grand Prix of Mexico and Brazil (on November 7 and 14) must go ahead, despite the fact that both countries are on the UK government’s red list due to the high number of Covid-19 cases.
Qatar, host of next winter’s soccer World Cup, will form the final race of a triple title on November 21 to allow F1 to overcome the complications of Mexico and Brazil being on the red list and mandatory hotel quarantine. for thousands of employees. of the seven teams based in the UK.
Despite a series of races canceled this year, including Singapore, Canada, Japan and China, F1 will complete a record 22-round season. Hamilton heads into the final seven rounds, starting in Turkey next weekend, with a two-point lead over Verstappen.
F1 said: “We are very grateful to the Qatar Motorcycles and Motorcycles Federation and the Qatari authorities for their enthusiasm and support in organizing a race this season, on short notice.
“We are also very grateful for his efforts to ensure that the race can take place in November at the Losail International Circuit. Qatar had a strong will to help F1 and in the course of this process the vision of a longer partnership for 10 years was discussed and agreed.
“As part of the longer term agreement, discussions will continue regarding the location of the grand prize starting in 2023 and further details will be provided at a later time.”
Amnesty International UK Executive Director Sacha Deshmukh said: “It is no secret that rich countries in the Middle East see top-level sport as a means of rebranding and laundering their images, and a grand prize in Qatar. it would be more of the same.
“Having invested large amounts of money in Paris Saint-Germain and hired thousands of foreign workers to build stadiums for the World Cup next year, Qatar is clearly trying to become a sports superpower.”
Deshmukh also highlighted the country alleged mistreatment of migrant workers and “its restrictions on freedom of expression and its criminalization of same-sex relationships.”
“Formula One should insist that all contracts related to this race contain strict labor standards in all supply chains. Drivers and their teams must be prepared to speak out about human rights in Qatar before this race, doing their bit to break the spell of sports washing and image management. “