Free Practice 2
F1 2021
Round 20

A New Circuit And New Challenge, In Qatar

qa Losail International Circuit

A new circuit brings a new challenge and it was an encouraging start to the weekend in Qatar as both Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri had drivers in the top three throughout Friday.

A New Circuit And New Challenge, In Qatar

On our first visit to the Losail International Circuit north of Doha, FP1 took place in the afternoon sunshine that provides less representative conditions for the rest of the weekend as qualifying and the race takes place after sunset. It did allow the drivers to get used to the new venue, however, with plenty of sighter laps and exploring track limits.

And it was Max who got up to speed the quickest as he ended the session fastest overall, leading Pierre in a Honda-powered one-two by just over 0.4s. Yuki also started strongly by setting the fifth fastest time of the opening session, with Sergio ensuring all four cars were in the top ten as he ended up eighth.

In FP2, it was Pierre in second place once again as his strong start to the weekend continued, this time just over 0.2s off the fastest lap. Max was a little over 0.1s further back in third, with Yuki half a second off the pace in seventh, while Sergio made it two sessions in a row in eighth place. 

With plenty of data to work through from the first running on a new track, we will spend the time between now and FP3 analysing everything we have gathered to ensure the optimal operation of the PU ahead of qualifying.

Toyoharu Tanabe
Toyoharu Tanabe
Honda Racing F1
The first two practice sessions at the Losail track took place in very different conditions, FP1 in daylight and FP2 starting at sunset, which means that there is a significant temperature difference between the two. FP2 was therefore the most relevant, as it took place at the same time as qualifying and the race. As this is the first time Formula 1 has visited Qatar, it was important for all our drivers to do as many laps as possible, for themselves and for the teams to acquire plenty of data. We will now analyse it all tonight, as it is clear that there is more performance to be gained from the car-PU package for qualifying and the race with both teams.

Pierre Gasly
Pierre Gasly 10
Scuderia AlphaTauri
It’s been a very good Friday, the best of the season so far I’d say. Inside of the car it doesn’t feel that easy, but the lap times are looking really good. I think in terms of balance we can do even better for tomorrow, so we’ll try and work on that tonight. Our target is of course to be as far up the grid as possible but we’re obviously realistic, we’re looking very competitive at the moment, so we’ll hope to be up there with McLaren and Ferrari again in Quali.

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen 33
Red Bull Racing
I’ve had a lot of fun driving today, I think it’s a really cool track. FP2 was the first time we could test on the track in the evening so it was important to see how the car would react. There was quite a big change between the medium and the soft tyre for me, the soft tyre wasn’t amazing but it’s the first time here so there are a lot of things to understand. It’s difficult to say what will happen during the race with these cars, it’s tough to follow but I think over one lap it’s going to be good. Let’s see what happens this weekend, there’s still a lot of things to look at as everything is still so new.

Yuki Tsunoda
Yuki Tsunoda 22
Scuderia AlphaTauri
It was good out there today, with the car looking quite strong so far. We tried some different set-ups to gather important data for Quali and the race, which is really important, as we’re at a new circuit. The car performed well on the Mediums but I struggled a bit more on the soft tyre, so we have some work to do tonight to try and improve in this area. Overall, I think it’s been a good day, we’ve just got to put it all together when it counts. Overtaking looks like it’ll be quite difficult here, so it’s going to be important to get a good starting position for the race, then we can be in a good place to score points on Sunday.

Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez 11
Red Bull Racing
I have driven this track before when I was younger and it is slowly starting to come back to me now I have been out there, I don’t feel that has put me at any advantage over others. I think we had a good start today but we have implemented some changes across the sessions and we need to review those, especially on the soft tyre. The margins are very small, hopefully we can be strong come qualifying tomorrow evening. It is an interesting place, especially from day to night, it is very different. It is not an easy track and tomorrow we expect the wind to change so it will be interesting to see what happens. I think we have some work to do overnight, we are not entirely happy with the balance of the car, so we will look at amending that before the morning. The next representative session will be qualifying so we will try to get the best out of analysing FP2 this evening and push on positively.

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