F1 has explored a number of options to strengthen the second half of the season as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact a number of races.
The Japanese Grand Prix became the last race to be canceled last week, joining Canada, Singapore and Australia as officially canceled events.
F1 officials have been working to find a replacement for the Australian Grand Prix which was originally scheduled for November 21, with the time slot “to be determined” on the current schedule.
But plans are now underway for Qatar to close the gap and host their first F1 Grand Prix in November, according to multiple sources, which would boost the schedule and hope to fill the planned 23-race season.
The Losail International Circuit holds an FIA Grade 1 license required to host F1 events and has been a mainstay of the MotoGP calendar since 2004, serving as the venue for the first two rounds of the season earlier this year.
It has also hosted rounds of the World Superbike Championship and the World Touring Car Championship, but has not hosted a large-scale single-seater event since 2009, when GP2 Asia raced at Losail. The circuit has full lighting that would make it possible to organize a night race, as seen with its MotoGP events.
The eventual addition of Qatar to the calendar could create a series of races in the Middle East towards the end of the year, with Saudi Arabia (December 5) and Abu Dhabi (December 12) set to close the season.
Questions remain about racing in Mexico and Brazil, given their redlist status in the UK, while Austin – who was raised for a possible double header in October – is seeing an increase in cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations.
The Red List status of countries hoping to host grand prizes later in the year would have a big impact on travel arrangements. Anyone returning to the UK – home to seven of the 10 teams – from a Red List country is required to spend 10 days in quarantine in a government hotel, regardless of their vaccination status.
The Turkish Grand Prix was moved from its original date in June after being added to the Red List, but F1 is known to explore travel options for the race at Istanbul Park scheduled for October 3, with a final decision still considered a few weeks away.