F1 drivers at the new Jeddah circuit RaceFans – .

F1 drivers at the new Jeddah circuit RaceFans – .

Formula 1 drivers compared the Jeddah Corniche circuit to Silverstone and Macau after their first real glimpse of the track they will race on this weekend in the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Thursday morning there were two important landmarks for the “street” trail. First of all, the FIA ​​granted the Grade 1 homologation necessary to host F1, before this season’s drivers’ peloton explored the circuit in person for the first time. However, the 20 drivers did not took to the track, with some using the very first official vehicle lap of the track – supplemented by the Aston Martin Vantage used by F1 as a safety car – to get references on what it would actually look like. likes to sail at high speed.

Most of the drivers started their preparations in the simulators at the team headquarters, and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc admitted to struggling for the first 10 laps. “I didn’t know where it was going, and there are 27 corners, so a lot of corners to learn,” said Leclerc. However, once familiar with the demands of the track, he added that he “really enjoyed the way it has to be driven” virtually.

F1 drivers expected to average 250 km / h around the fast Jeddah course

Pierre Gasly of AlphaTauri, who found the time to walk the track, noted how narrower it was in places than what had been modeled before. SAFER barriers now line the outside of some of the high-speed curves, giving drivers less room for error than their simulators would have indicated.

“It’s pretty dusty. It’s a very high speed, as we saw in the simulator, ”Gasly said. “It will be a pretty exciting and challenging track for us riders. Very high speed turns, blind turns, it’s pretty narrow. It actually feels narrower when you walk than when you are in the simulator. So tomorrow, going around those walls at 300 km / h will probably be even narrower. From a driving point of view, it should be really fun.

What made track walking particularly useful for teams was being able to see the composition of the track surface, which could not be taken into account in simulator models with limited data. Lewis Hamilton’s first reaction was “it’s not far from a Silverstone-type surface” – this track was remade in 2019 – while Fernando Alonso raised the question of whether on a low-grip surface ” you need a lot of engine, or deployment, or tires will be a big topic ”because there are“ still too many unknowns to be sure ”.

The general reaction has been positive, with Gasly’s teammate Yuki Tsunoda calling the track walk “quite exciting” as he “usually gets tired” from walking them.

Mick Schumacher predicted “we’re going to have a lot of red flags” with wall taps “probably” commonplace, while Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jnr echoed both his teammate’s and Schumacher’s comments.

“Everything looks very different from what I’m used to or what we’re used to in F1,” he said. “It took me a few more laps to level up in the simulation compared to the other circuits, just because of how many corners there are, the walls. Obviously you can’t see through them and you don’t know what’s on the other side of the corner.

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“It was difficult to take the turns well and all that. Everything looks so similar, turns so fast and punchy that it was pretty hard to learn until you got to a point where obviously you’ve learned it and everything starts to feel a bit more normal. But I feel like we’re going to need more laps to compose.

Another Baku? Not quite, say the drivers

The full-throttle nature of the circuit may be reminiscent of other tracks, but McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo agreed with Sainz’s take on the Jeddah difference.

“It’s funny, because it changes a bit from the Monza setup, but it’s a very different track,” said Ricciardo, who took victory at the Italian venue earlier this year.

“I don’t know if there is something like this circuit. At the moment, some sections remind me a bit of Macau. I’ve been there a long time, but it’s a high-speed street circuit.

While some have compared him to Baku, Ricciardo doesn’t think this comparison is valid, a point of view shared by Nicholas Latifi. The Williams driver expects a much smaller margin of error in Jeddah.

“Specific parts of the track, like the two baffles after the banked turn. I guess they’re a bit similar to the Montreal style chicanes, but just faster, ”said Latifi.

“And then you have the first type of ‘S’ bit, I think five to nine turns, which is, I guess, a little tighter kind of silverstone / Suzuka / Austin flowing, which is quite nice in. these cars because good. It is a unique track.

“I think the kind of judgments you make when you go into the corners, it’s really going to be pretty unique just because of the high speed nature that it is. I am therefore very impatient to take up this challenge. Hopefully this offers some good races as well, with very long straights and three DRS zones. “

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Saudi Arabian Grand Prix 2021

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