Owing to the nature of the Losail circuit, which features sizeable run-off areas around its faster corners, along with flat kerbs around the perimeter of the track, the FIA has elected to enforce limits at Turns 4, 12, 13, 14 and 16.
Turn 4 is a 90-degree right-hander leading into the similarly profiled Turn 5, which is expected to lead drivers to test the limits of the corner to open up the following apex.
The trio of Turns 12, 13 and 14 are a series of fast right-handers that will similarly reward treating the series of bends as one corner, while Turn 16 is the final tight right-hander that drivers will explore the limits of the exit kerb on to maximise their straightline acceleration.
FIA race director Michael Masi has sent out a document to all teams explaining that each corner will be stringently policed, and that three failed attempts to navigate any of the corners within the white lines will be subject to a black-and-white flag within the race – and further transgressions will be subject to a stewards’ review.
Any laptimes that are recorded in which any of the track limits rules are violated during practice and qualifying will be deleted and, in the case of Turn 16, the following laptime will also be deleted if a driver surpasses the limits at that corner.
The fast, flowing corners at Losail are expected to require a high-downforce set-up to navigate, although the long one-kilometre start-finish straight partially complicates that.
Given that the start-finish straight is the sole DRS zone on the track, it is expected that the high-downforce packages will create a large advantage for a car with DRS activated. The DRS detection zone sits before Turn 16.
It is understood that the Losail track surface has not been changed from when it was laid at the circuit’s opening in 2004, and is expected to be abrasive – which could result in high tyre temperatures and wear amid some of the higher-speed corners.
Although FP1 and FP3 will be held during the day, the qualifying and race sessions will be held at night – placing greater importance on the teams to get the most out of their FP2 running.