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BY RIZWAN REHMAT
DOHA: Qatar - hosts the first race on the MotoGP calendar every season - is pushing to bring the Formula One flavour to the country on a permanent basis.
The $75m Losail International Circuit - venue of the only night race on the MotoGP calendar - has never hosted an FIA-sanctioned Formula One race.
That could all change if new directives are issued by the FIA Safety Commission, Nasser bin Khalifa Al Attiyah, President of Qatar Motor and Motorcycling Federation (QMMF), said yesterday.
“We are trying to get the license which would allow us to host F1 teams for pre-season testing and other activities,” Al Attiyah said.
“F1 race director Charlie Whiting was here to inspect the Losail Circuit. He was impressed with what he saw.
“Hosting an F1 team for pre-season testing would give the Losail Circuit a massive marketing boost among other things. We see F1 races in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain. Ours could be the third venue to facilitate F1 testing,” the QMMF president explained.
“We are pushing for this and that’s why Whiting made a visit to Losail Circuit. He was very impressed with the artificial grass that we have around the (5.7km) circuit.
“He is taking with him a sample patch of the artificial grass. He feels it could be used around other circuits on the tour,” Al Attiyah said.
Whiting is expected to make his recommendations to the FIA Safety Commission about his visit to Losail Circuit and the changes carried out by QMMF in recent years.
Losail Circuit has been hosting MotoGP races since 2004.
The circuit - with state-of-the-art lighting system erected at a cost of more than $15m - hosted an F1 race (Seniors Tour) in 2006. F1 legend Nigell Mansell was one of the names to drive around the circuit.
Al Attiyah said Losail Circuit would be the venue of a Safety Commission seminar in the coming weeks.
“We are keen to bring the officials of the Safety Commission for a seminar. That would allow us to assemble the brains behind safety programmes in the racing world,” Al Attiyah said.
“We want to put Qatar on the F1 radar as well. The feedback from Whiting is all very positive at the moment,” the Qatari added.
“If we get the A + T license, that would allow the F1 teams to come to Losail Circuit for pre-season testing. That’s what we are looking at right now,” he added.
Al Attiyah - Vice President of FIM - is in Malaysia for today’s Grand Prix at Sepang. After his visit, Al Attiyah would head to Egypt to meet with motor sport officials of the Arab world.
Later in the week, the QMMF president would meet FIM officials in Paris and in the first week of November, the Qatari is scheduled to arrive in Cyprus for the second last round of the FIA Middle East Championship.