Drivers have difficulty with sandy track during free training in Qatar

The teams and drivers do not become much wiser during the only training session

It has to happen this weekend for Max Verstappen. In Qatar, the Dutch driver has the chance to secure the third title in a row for the first time. Will he finish sixth or higher in tomorrow's sprint race? Then the championship is won. First let's explore the Losail International Circuit during the first and only free practice for the Qatar GP.

There are quite a few problems for the drivers this weekend. First of all, they only have one session to tune the car. Qualifying will take place tonight at 7:00 PM Dutch time. Because the sun has set, the track will be colder and the tires will react differently. To add to that, the circuit is full of desert sand.

Nice, that sand, up to a certain point

According to Carlos Sainz, his father 'would be very fast' in these conditions. Verstappen can also laugh at the sandy conditions: 'Oh my god, it's so slippery, haha!', the driver laughs. However, Verstappen's laughter soon fades. At first he sees nothing because the sun is shining in his eyes and later he complains of understeer. Because the car does not want to steer, Verstappen - like several other drivers - shoots off the track a few times.

SAI: "My dad would go quick in these conditions!"Carlos Sainz channels his inner rally champ in the early stages of FP1, with Verstappen also reporting low grip 🏜️ #QatarGP #F1Sprint

— Formula 1 (@F1) October 6, 2023 He also drives around a 100-meter sign, just after Norris did exactly the same at the sign 50 meters earlier. Despite the excursions of the various drivers, no one is injured. As the session progresses, there will be a line on the track where the sand has been blown off. Even when the grains of sand have been blown away, it continues to slip and slide.

The sun is now setting and the lights next to the track are turned on. This is the time for photographers to take pictures of unrecognizable cars. Towards the end of the session the teams dare to fit the soft tires. This makes the times a little faster. The fastest is Max Verstappen. He is three tenths faster than Sainz in P2. Let's see if he can repeat this during qualifying.

Floor is lava. 🌋 #QatarGP #F1Sprint

— Formula 1 (@F1) October 6, 2023 ## Result of the free practice in Qatar

Verstappen Sainz Leclerc Alonso Pérez Tsunoda Hülkenberg Russell Piastri Norris Sargeant Albon Hamilton Stroll Ocon Gasly Bottas Zhou Lawson Magnussen ## What time does F1 start in Qatar?

FridayQualification: 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM

SaturdaySprint Shootout: 3:00 PM – 3:44 PMSprint Race: 7:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Sunday Race: 7:00 PM