Time On Track: Episode 18 – Qatar

Time On Track returns this week with a look at Round 18 of the 2023 Formula 1 season: Qatar. The newly resurfaced Lusail International Circuit was particularly punishing to the Pirelli tires this week, so much so that a mandate was handed down to the teams stipulating that tires could go no longer than 17 lap stints at a time. This created 3 and 4 stop races for many of the teams, and plenty of drama in the Sprint race leading up to Sunday. Perhaps the biggest challenge for the drivers this week was the track limits at a few select corners, which led to a plethora of deleted lap times and eventual 5 second penalties.

Through all the drama, which included a lap 1, turn 1 incident between the Mercedes drivers, Max Verstappen managed to claim his third WDC title in as many years, with a dominant performance throughout this season the likes of which history has rarely seen. How will the teams respond going into 2024? That’s a question we ponder in this episode, as well what driver lineups might be ripe for change, and even the prospect of an 11th team on the grid further down the line.


There are just 5 races left this season, and we expect to see a few updates trickle out as proof of concept for cars currently in development for next year. The Red Bull created a massive delta for teams to think about over the off-season, and one that might be tricky for any evolutionary changes to fully bridge. Keep an eye out for the next episode late this month after the USGP at the Circuit of the Americas, where Mercedes may put a new floor to the test. What will it tell us about their new concept? We’ll discuss in the next episode.

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