Qatar likely to host F1 race in 2016-17

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F1 race in 2016-17

Qatar could be included on the Formula 1 calendar as early as 2016 as negotiations between organisers and Bernie Ecclestone reach an advanced stage, according to latest media reports.

Organisers first signalled a desire to join the F1 schedule earlier this year, though its inclusion is seemingly dependent on whether Bahrain chose to exercise a veto that would prevent another race being held in the Gulf region alongside its own event and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

However, Nasser bin Khalifa al Attiyah, President of Qatar’s motorsport federation and an FIA vice-president, insists a deal to bring F1 to Qatar as early as 2016 or 2017 has now been completed subject to final signatures.

“We are about to sign contracts to organise a Formula One race,” Attiyah told Agence France Presse. “We have completed all the steps and there are only a few details before the official signature.”

What isn’t clear is whether Qatar will bring its Losail International Circuit up to a Grade 1 standard that would grant it the necessary licence to host F1, or whether it will go ahead and create a street race.

Either way, F1 would be the latest motorsport conquest for Qatar having already established itself as the traditional season opener for the MotoGP World Championship, the Losail venue also hosting the season finales of the World Superbike Championship and the World Touring Car Championship in 2015, all under floodlights.

The news of a Qatar Grand Prix will come as a surprise to many as only a few months ago F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone admitted their chances are not looking good as the country needed the approval of the Bahrain and Abu Dhabi promotors, who were not very keen back then. For now, all the parties appear to have ironed out their problems.

However, should Qatar join the calendar in 2016, it would further swell a provisional schedule which – subject to confirmation – already includes new events in Azerbaijan and New Jersey, as well as a possible return to India.

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