Qatar pushes to host Formula One race

02 July 2015

New street circuit being considered by Doha

  • President of Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation says “the entire project is ready”
  • Comments come as Doha pursues purchase of stake in Formula One
  • Both Bahrain and Abu Dhabi already host Formula One races

Qatar is continuing to push for the right to host a Formula One (F1) race, according to the head of the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF).

“Recently, we were very close to signing an agreement to host an F1 race,” QMMF President Nasser bin Khalifa al-Attiyah told English-language sports weekly Doha Stadium Plus.

“The entire project is ready. But some things didn’t work out and we need to show a little more patience.

“All we need is a few more meetings with [F1 CEO] Bernie Ecclestone. We need a little more time, but we’ve the solution.”

His comments come days after it emerged that Qatar is looking to buy a controlling stake in F1.

Doha has teamed up with US sports company RSE Ventures to try and buy the 35.5 per cent stake in F1 that is currently owned by UK holding company CVC Capital Partners for an estimated $7bn-$8bn.

Qatar’s existing Losail circuit is currently licensed for testing by F1’s governing body, the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), and could be upgraded to allow races, according to Al-Attiyah.

Additionally, a new street circuit is being considered.

“Either we can use the existing circuit, or else we’ll go for a new facility in Losail City,” Al-Attiyah said.

“We’ve a lot of projects coming up and we’re ready for anything. We want to build a strong motorsport culture in the region.”

Over recent years, Qatar has increased its involvement in global sporting events. It has been hosting a race for the MotoGP motorcycle racing series since 2004, as well as a race in the World Superbikes Championship.

The country is also due to hold a round of the World Touring Car Championship at Losail later this year.

In 2010, Qatar was awarded the right to host the 2022 Fifa football World Cup, triggering a multibillion-dollar infrastructure construction programme to prepare for the event.

In 2011, government-owned investment company Qatar Sports Investments bought the Paris Saint-Germain handball team.

This was followed by the purchase of the Paris Saint Germain football club in 2012, which was valued at $130m at the time.

F1 already has a strong presence in the Middle East, with both Bahrain and Abu Dhabi hosting races in the series.

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