The motorsports connoisseurs made a beeline to Losail Circuit, which is no stranger to hosting big events with MotoGP racing here since 2004. Fans lined up on the stands to watch their favourite drivers behind the wheels of the F1 car, while they also had plenty of entertainment options outside the track in the Fan Zone.
An air show was held for the spectators on the sidelines of the Formula One Ooredoo Qatar Grand Prix
After watching Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas top the timesheets in the first and second practice sessions respectively, fans were enthralled with a live air show. Verstappen, who leads Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton by 14 points in the title race, was impressed by the nature of the Losail track.
"It's been a lot of fun to drive to be honest," the Dutchman said yesterday. "I think it's a really cool track. It's difficult to say for the race. With these cars anyway, it's very tough to follow. I think over one lap anyway, it's going to be good," he added.
Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) president Abdulrahman bin Abdullatif al-Mannai was pleased with the turnout on the first day and expected more crowd to come in the next two days.
“We are excited to see such a record number of fans at a motorsport event in Qatar. Qatar is ready to host the first ever F1 race in front of a capacity crowd. We will have completely full grandstands come race day on Sunday and this is a testament to the huge appeal of F1,” al-Mannai said Friday.
“We have been hosting motor racing events at LCSC for many years but this weekend’s event will go down in history as the one with the biggest turnout. I am sure the fans will enjoy what should be a spectacular weekend,” he added.
“There was great buzz at the free practice sessions Friday. We can safely say the atmosphere inside the venue was electric and will be even more so on Saturday and Sunday. There’s a lot of activity right now and the buzz will simply get bigger with each passing hour,” the QMMF president said.
It might be the first time F1 is being held in Qatar but it won’t be the last. While the race won’t be happening next year, it is a sign of things to come with Qatar signing a 10-year deal to host races starting in 2023 in a newly-built circuit.
QMMF’s executive director Amro al-Hamad was hopeful that hosting the F1 race would help put Qatar in contention to bring other major motorsport championships to the country in the future.
“Formula 1 being here is definitely going to attract a lot of attention, and put us back again in the spotlight,” he said. “So there’s a huge possibility that we’re going to host a lot of other motorsports events in the state.”