Qatar Grand Prix: Friday RecapNovember 19, 2021
Round 20 of the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship began with practice on Friday at the Losail International Circuit as teams prepared for Sunday’s inaugural Qatar Grand Prix.
Friday’s action consisted of two 60-minute sessions – FP1 and FP2 – on the 5.380-kilometer (3.343-mile), 16-turn circuit – most commonly known for hosting the MotoGP World Championship.
The opening session wasn’t without incident for Schumacher and Mazepin. Both cars ran a wake-up run to start the afternoon – Schumacher logging seven laps on the Pirelli P Zero White hard tire with Mazepin on the Yellow medium compound for nine laps. A switch to Red softs dropped lap times with Schumacher P18 on a 1:26.699 while Mazepin set a best lap of 1:27.500 for P20. Schumacher returned for a final high-fuel stint but a lock-up from the German at Turn 7 resulted in his VF-21 taking a hefty trip through the gravel trap in the dying minutes – the team opting to pit immediately as a precaution.
Floor damage on Mazepin’s VF-21 subsequently meant the Russian’s session ended prematurely and upon further investigation in the garage – a chassis change was required ruling Mazepin inactive for the remainder of the day.
FP2, held under the floodlights, saw the solitary Uralkali Haas F1 Team entry of Schumacher bag some productive laps in conditions more representative of Saturday’s qualifying session and Sunday’s 57-lap race – also set for early evening in Qatar. Schumacher ran a five-lap baseline stint on mediums to start before a switch onto the soft rubber for a qualifying simulation. A fastest lap of 1:25.575 followed to place Schumacher P19 on the timesheets. Friday’s run-plan concluded with a high-fuel outing sampling both compounds.
Uralkali Haas F1 Team ran a total of 64 laps on Friday across FP1 and FP2 – 48 by Schumacher and 16 by Mazepin.
Nikita Mazepin, Driver No. 9, Uralkali Haas F1 Team
“I think it’s the fastest circuit I can remember visiting this year in terms of almost no slow corners here, which definitely makes it an interesting challenge. The surface is very smooth which makes it an enjoyable experience and this track is all about what Formula 1 cars bring. I felt something come very close to the bottom of my car. It’s frustrating as I didn’t leave the circuit, I was inside the track limits at the moment it happened, so I think these kerbs aren’t very nice to all the cars. In particular, it hit my car at the wrong angle and it makes for a very careful session and race from now on. I think that the first session we do tomorrow, we will start by being inside the white lines and actually not think about the speed but be careful from the beginning – which is the priority – and then build the pushing from that point onwards.”
Mick Schumacher, Driver No. 47, Uralkali Haas F1 Team
“I haven’t done any simulator work so I went in with no expectations really. Overall, it was very fun, I enjoyed it. The track is very fast, that was probably not as expected. It feels pretty good, I think it’s a nice track to perform qualifying on, probably for racing it’s going to be a bit more difficult but I’m ready to be surprised.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Uralkali Haas F1 Team
“A little bit of a challenging FP1 for Nikita. Coming to a new track, we didn’t expect some of the challenges here - which are the kerbs, with other people experiencing damage to the floor. We took it a little bit further, having damage on the chassis and having to change it. He was on the racing line but the kerbs did the damage in FP1 and that was the day over for him. The team is changing the chassis out with the spare one and we will be ready again for tomorrow, for FP3. For Mick, FP1 and FP2 went very well learning the track and the team gaining experience on a track that none of us has been to before.”
Event: Free Practice 1 & 2 for the Qatar Grand Prix – Friday November 19
Location: Losail International Circuit, Doha
Layout: 5.380-kilometer (3.343-mile), 16-turn circuit
FP1 & FP2 Weather: Sunny / Warm
Drivers: Nikita Mazepin & Mick Schumacher
Free Practice No. 1 Rundown
Schumacher: 18th overall (1:26.699), 21 laps completed
Mazepin: 20th overall (1:27.500), 16 laps completed
Fastest Driver: Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing (1:23.723)
Most Laps: Pierre Gasly of AlphaTauri – 28 laps
Free Practice No. 2 Rundown
Schumacher: 19th overall (1:25.575), 27 laps completed
Mazepin: DNS – Chassis Change
Fastest Driver: Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes (1:23.148)
Most Laps: Esteban Ocon of Alpine – 29 laps