Five things to know ahead of the Saudi Arabian GP | 2021 Saudi Arabian GP Preview
The Saudi Arabian GP might just be the deciding factor in the 2021 Formula 1 championship fightRed Bull

Five things to know ahead of the Saudi Arabian GP | 2021 Saudi Arabian GP Preview

The Corniche Circuit Jeddah is yet to be finished but nonetheless, we bring you the five things to know ahead of the 2021 Saudi Arabian GP

The Saudi Arabian GP is one of the newest locations added to Formula 1. It is so new that even the track is still under construction, with just two more days left for the race weekend to start. But, F1 and Saudi Arabia have confirmed that the track will be ready by Friday. The Corniche circuit is situated in Jeddah, right next to the beautiful Red Sea. It is a high-speed circuit by nature and has been designed by Carsten Tilke to allow maximum opportunities for overtaking.

The variables heading into this race is astronomical for the teams as they have no record on the nature of the track and Pirelli is already having a hard time deciding the tyre choice. They have chosen the C2 compound as the Hard tyre, the C3 compound as the Medium tyre, and the C4 compound as the Soft tyre for the 50 lap race ahead of us. But it is anybody’s guess on how successful the tyre choice would be. So, without much further ado, let us look at the five things to know ahead of the 2021 Saudi Arabian GP.

  • The curious case of the Jeddah Circuit

  • The DRS effect

  • The battle in the mid-field

  • F1 Championship title fight

  • The Formula 2 championship

The Jeddah circuit is a street circuit by nature as the walls around the circuit come really close to the actual track which increases the penalty for mistakes exponentially.
The Jeddah circuit is a street circuit by nature as the walls around the circuit come really close to the actual track which increases the penalty for mistakes exponentially.Pirelli

1. The curious case of the Jeddah circuit

The Corniche Circuit Jeddah is the latest entry to the F1 books as mentioned earlier. But a little dig into the information reveals a lot about the track. Before that here are a few basic details about the track. The Jeddah circuit is 6.174km long and has 27 turns in it. It is a street circuit by nature as the walls around the circuit come really close to the actual track which increases the penalty for mistakes exponentially.

If you are looking for a reference to this track, look no further than the Azerbaijan F1 circuit. But from simulations done by Pirelli and F1, we understood that this track will allow drivers to reach a staggering 322kmph in top speed and their average speed on the circuit will be around 252.8kmph. This average speed is just a little short of the average speed attained in Monza.

Turn 13 is one of the corners to look for as it has 12-degree banking and in turn, will put a lot of pressure on the tyres. Moreover, the Jeddah circuit has the highest corners on the F1 calendar. This means that the tyres would be worked really hard over the span of the race. Now, it is a relief that the track is expected to be less abrasive when compared to tracks like Qatar and Bahrain, but how much would that help in maintaining tyre life in this high-speed circuit? That is something we will have to find out.

The Jeddah circuit is expected to have three DRS zones that promise a lot of overtakes on paper.
The Jeddah circuit is expected to have three DRS zones that promise a lot of overtakes on paper. Red Bull

2. The DRS effect

The Jeddah circuit is expected to have three DRS zones that promise a lot of overtakes on paper. DRS zones allow drivers to open up a section of the rear wing and gain more speed for the overtake, provided that they are within a second behind the car ahead in the DRS detection zone.

Hypothetically, this means that in the first DRS zone, the car behind will be able to sail past the car ahead. But at the same time, the car now behind will have the same advantage and the same story carries on for the DRS zone ahead.

So this means that a driver might get caught up in constant battles with the cars around and may not really get an edge over the competition. This may allow us to see more overtakes on track but at the same time, it will be a pain for the drivers.

Will FIA sanction the three DRS zones for better overtaking opportunities on the track or will they reduce the DRS zones so that the drivers managing to perform an overtake will have an edge? We will find out soon enough.

Alpine will be entering this race on a high note after Fernando Alonso got them a podium at the Qatar GP along with Ocon finishing in P5.
Alpine will be entering this race on a high note after Fernando Alonso got them a podium at the Qatar GP along with Ocon finishing in P5.Red Bull

3. The battle in the mid-field

The battle of the mid-field will be the one to look out for during the weekend. Let us start off with Alpine F1. Now, Alpine will be entering this race on a high note after Fernando Alonso got them a podium at the Qatar GP along with Esteban Ocon finishing in P5. Even though they haven’t been done well in the high-speed circuits when compared to rivals AlphaTauri, chances are that their boost from Qatar would be enough to drive them ahead in the compressed midfield.

Speaking of AlphaTauri, the Italian team has been performing well in the hands of Pierre Gasly. Their cars work well in low-downforce conditions and the Jeddah circuit offers a good opportunity for the team to claw back some of the gap to Alpine in the constructor’s table. Their only problem lies with the inconsistency of Yuki Tsunoda.

Towards the front of the mid-field, McLaren F1 and Scuderia Ferrari will be battling it out for the third position in the constructor’s championship. Even though Ferrari has a 39.5 points advantage over McLaren, it does not give them any signs of relief. The Jeddah circuit and the Yas Marina circuit of Abu Dhabi are high-speed circuits and will favour McLaren significantly more than Ferrari. Will Ferrari be able to keep the lead in the race ahead? Only one way to find out.

After two consecutive wins in the last two outings, Lewis Hamilton has closed the gap to Max Verstappen and now trails by just 8 points with two races in hand.
After two consecutive wins in the last two outings, Lewis Hamilton has closed the gap to Max Verstappen and now trails by just 8 points with two races in hand.Red Bull

4. The Championship title fight

The championship title fight is one of the closest we have ever seen in the turbo-hybrid era. After two consecutive wins in the last two outings, Lewis Hamilton has closed the gap to Max Verstappen and now trails by just 8 points with two races in hand.

Their teams are also battling it out for the constructor’s championship as Mercedes-AMG F1 leads by just 5 points from Red Bull Racing. Red Bull has been able to claw back some of the losses after a series of bad luck hit Valtteri Bottas in the past couple of races.

In Jeddah, Lewis will have a fresher engine in the back of his car when compared to Max and that will make him one of the, if not the fastest car on the grid. Moreover, the low downforce, high-speed nature of the circuit will favour Mercedes and that just might damage the hopes of Red Bull’s and Verstappen’s dream of winning the 2021 championship title.

It will be interesting to see if Red Bull can muster up a fight against Mercedes on this track and keep the championship battle alive. Just by the way, if Lewis finishes sixth or below, Max Verstappen will be crowned the 2021 World Champion.

Indian F2 driver Jehan Daruvala is currently standing in P7 with 96 points, ahead of Liam Lawson (80 points) and just behind Jüri Vips (102 points).
Indian F2 driver Jehan Daruvala is currently standing in P7 with 96 points, ahead of Liam Lawson (80 points) and just behind Jüri Vips (102 points).Red Bull

5. The Formula 2 championship

The F2 season has had a roller coaster ride of its own. Rookie driver Oscar Piastri is leading the championship quite comfortably with 178 points from rival Guanyu Zhou, who has 142 points so far. But the championship is far from over as there are six more races to go.

But even though Zhou may lose out on the fight for the championship, there is a silver lining for him. In 2022, Zhou is set to become the first Chinese driver to race in F1 as he has a confirmed seat in Alfa Romeo. He is set to replace Antonio Giovinazzi, who will be racing for Dragon Racing in Formula E.

Lastly, Indian F2 driver Jehan Daruvala is currently standing in P7 with 96 points, ahead of Liam Lawson (80 points) and just behind Jüri Vips (102 points). Now, this gap is not significant as there are three races during this weekend and there are potentially 65 points to take away.

Here are the timings for the F2 Jeddah weekend.

December 4

Sprint Race 1: 6:00 pm IST

December 5

Sprint Race 2: 12:10 am IST


Feature Race 3: 07:55 pm IST

With that said, here are the timings for the Formula 1 Saudi Arabia GP weekend.

December 3

Free Practice 1: 7:00 pm IST

Free Practice 2: 10:30 pm IST

December 4

Free Practice 3: 7:30 pm IST

Qualifying: 10:30 pm IST

December 5

Race: 11:00 pm IST

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