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Why Mercedes hopes Qatar will buck Sprint trend

The Qatar Grand Prix will be the fourth Sprint race of the 2023 season, with six planned in total.

Hamilton Japan
To news overview © XPBimages

Mercedes believes Qatar's Lusail circuit is a better prospect to host a Formula 1 Sprint race after the challenges of Baku and the Red Bull Ring.

F1 is set for six Sprint races in 2023, with Azerbaijan, Austria, Belgium, Qatar, the United States and Brazil set to host events, with the return of Qatar being the first of three in the final six Grand Prix weekends.

The first-ever street Sprint was held in Baku in April leading to a number of challenges across the field with getting to grips at a street track with just an hour of practice before cars enter parc ferme conditions before qualifying, while the second event was in Austria which is a track Mercedes has struggled at it recent years.

Mercedes won the inaugural Qatar GP in 2021 through Lewis Hamilton, before the race dropped off the calendar for '22 owing to the FIFA World Cup being held in the gulf-state, but has rejoined the calendar on a long-term deal, with Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin optimistic that Lusail will prove an easier challenge.

Mercedes hopeful

"You limited in what you can do on the approach [to the weekend] because you've got one hour to do the work of three hours," Shovlin told media including RacingNews365.

"Even with three hours' of practice, you're on track for the vast majority of it.

"We will have the drivers in the simulator and be preparing for [Qatar] which as a circuit is probably a bit easier as somewhere like Baku was a particularly difficult one to have a Sprint race at.

"If you look at tracks like Austria, we've not been great in Austria for a few years, so that wouldn't be a our first choice of a track to have a Sprint at.

"But we will do our normal preparation, getting the drivers in the sim and we've learned quite a bit about the car since the last one [in Belgium].

"Hopefully we can [arrive] with a better set-up and go from that."

F1 2023 Qatar Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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