Formula 1 makes its debut in Qatar this weekend as the Losail International Circuit hosts a Grand Prix for the very first time.
A track that will be well-known by MotoGP fans, this is the first time Formula 1 has rocked up to the track but it won’t be the last, with the paddock set to return in 2023 ahead of a multi-year stint.
This is a good chance to see what the circuit might have instore in the years ahead, then, and with the title fight intensifying both on and off the tarmac, we could be in for another belter.
Here are five questions that need answers this weekend in Qatar…
What now for the title fight?
Unless you’ve been on Mars for the last week you’ll now be well aware that the Sao Paulo Grand Prix has been contested ever since the chequered flag on Sunday.
Mercedes launched an appeal against the lack of penalty for Max Verstappen and the FIA have been listening to both sides’ cases in the days since – we’re still awaiting the final decision.
How will all the controversy change this weekend’s fight? We’ll soon see…
How much power remains in Lewis Hamilton’s engine?
Hamilton earned great praise for his performance across the weekend in Brazil and rightly so, with him using every bit of horsepower his new internal combustion engine could give him in the back of his Mercedes.
The Silver Arrows say the drop-off in performance from race-to-race is worse than the Honda in the Red Bull, though, so how quick will Lewis be this weekend if he uses the ICE from Brazil, or will he use the other one available in his current engine pool?
How will day/night conditions impact things?
As now seems to be customary with Formula 1 races in the Middle East, the Qatar Grand Prix will take place as day turns into night, surely providing some spectacular shots of sparks flying from beneath the cars as they reach top speed and fly through some high-speed corners.
It creates a dynamic we don’t often get through the season, too, with things like track temperature and the right tyres at the right time surely set to swing a fair bit as the sun sets.
It’s another factor teams need to contend with and who does it best could be rewarded with big points.
To use a boxing analogy, McLaren and Ferrari have been slogging it out for about 8 of the 12 rounds, exchanging blows, before the Scuderia have put the British team on the ropes in the final third of the bout.
Ferrari look very much on course for third in the Constructors’ and it seems McLaren can’t do too much about it at the moment.
Can the Maccas land a late surprise knockout blow in the closing stages to turn things back their way? This weekend will provide some clues.
Who will master this new circuit?
Of the current field, only Sergio Perez has raced at the Losail circuit and that was back in 2009 in the GP2 Asia series.
He might have some edge, then, but he amusingly admitted earlier this week he barely remembers anything from that time, so the drivers are going into this event pretty blind.
That makes the challenge an exciting one, though, and who can get up to speed quickly should see a positive weekend on the cards.