Qatar has become the latest country in the Middle East to throw their hat into the ring to host a Grand Prix as soon as 2016, although its arrival could depend on officials in nearby Bahrain giving it the go-ahead.
According to Autosport, the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Ben Hamad Al Thani is supporting the idea to host a street circuit event around the city of Losail.
MotoGP has been racing on a purpose-built circuit nearby since 2004 but the plans for Losail, which will host the final of the 2022 Football World Cup, is to race around the new cities streets and to join Bahrain and Abu Dhabi as Grand Prix venues in the Middle East.
Although Qatar are keen to host Formula 1, its addition to the calendar could depend on the Bahraini officials agreeing to holding another race in close proximity to their race at Sakhir, with a veto possible, although the CEO of the Bahrain F1 Grand Prix Sheikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa denies there is any clause in its contract with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone that allows it to prevent a Qatari Grand Prix.
“The thing with Mr Ecclestone is how he values friendship,” said Al Khalifa to Autosport. “He appreciates the step we took [in hosting F1] – as we were the first people to take a chance [in the Middle East]. But I wouldn’t read too much into [reports of an official veto].”
“I think F1’s culture is growing [in the Middle East], and we can see it slowly coming about. But my personal opinion of having another race – wherever it is – I don’t think we are ready for that.”
The addition of a Qatari Grand Prix would mean a possible twenty-two races in 2016, with the current 20 races being joined by the inaugural Grand Prix in Azerbaijan next season, and with teams reluctant to exceed twenty races, it could see the demise of other races from the calendar.