Formula One boss Stefano Domenicali lifts lid on talks to stage a Grand Prix in Qatar later this year despite concerns surrounding ‘sportswashing’ in the Gulf state

Formula One boss Stefano Domenicali is in advanced talks with Qatar about staging a grand prix there this year. The controversial move — which will provoke claims of ‘sportswashing’ human rights abuses in the Gulf state — comes despite Domenicali confirming that the calendar will be reduced from 23 to 22 rounds after the proposed Japanese race fell victim to Covid concerns. If Qatar, also due to host the football World Cup next year, falls through, authorities in neighbouring Bahrain are on stand-by to host their second race of the season. The addition of Qatar — the existing Losail International Circuit 20 miles outside Doha will be used — would take the number of Arab countries hosting F1 grand prix to four, with Saudi Arabia the stage for the penultimate round on December 5.

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