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Saudi Arabian Grand Prix 2021: Jeddah Corniche Circuit track guide

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix 2021: Jeddah Corniche Circuit track guide

F1 News

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix 2021: Jeddah Corniche Circuit track guide

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix 2021: Jeddah Corniche Circuit track guide

What a treat F1 has in store when track action gets underway for the first time at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The Jeddah Corniche Circuit is sure to provide thrilling excitement with what, on paper, seems a refreshing layout despite its street-track nature.

With fast, flowing and sweeping meanders linking long straights, the second-longest circuit on the calendar at 6.1km - shorter only than Spa-Francorchamps - will actually take a fairly average lap time to complete.

With danger lurking at almost every corner, let's take look at the penultimate circuit on this year's calendar.

The circuit

Potentially the biggest name in track architecture and often maligned in the modern era, Hermann Tilke has created somewhat of a gem on the Jeddah coastline.

A long start-finish straight leads into turns one and two which resemble a miniature, unbanked version of turns 11 and 12 in Shanghai.

Turn three is a small kink under traction on the exit of turn two before drivers will have to take a deep breath into the first of the track's challenging twister sections.

A dab of the break will take drivers left at four before a long sweeper back right at five leads to a double left at six and seven, all taken almost flat-out in perfect conditions.

Turns eight and nine are a critical double right-hander to lead through the small deviations through 10, 11 and 12 and onto the first DRS straight of the lap.

Thirteen is slightly banked, sweeping to the left-hand side as the track double backs on itself and turns back towards home.

Turns 14 and 15 act as part of the flat-out 'straight' - think Valencia's street circuit - before a small breaking moment at the perilous 16-17 chicane.

Another blast through minor corners leads to the extremely fast 22-23-24 complex, under the circuit's infrastructure and out onto the back straight.

Two curves to the left under DRS set up the final corner of 27 before another blast of DRS takes drivers over the line.

The circuit - dubbed the fastest street-track in F1 - is expected to rival Monza for the percentage of lap time spent on full-throttle and is sure to be a challenge of concentration, with Red Bull team principal Christian Horner labelling the layout "insane".

What lap times can we expect?

With no previous track action in Jeddah, of course, we must turn our attention to the official F1 video game!

The circuit was released last month for gamers around the world to gain insight into the Corniche, with this writer setting a lap in the one-minute 28-second timeframe.

To gain some idea of a potential lap time, however, GPFans has taken various lap times set by Mercedes F1 Esports Pro Series driver and current champion Jarno Opmeer from circuits on the calendar to find a projected time.

Taking his time trial efforts on the game and comparing pole position times from real-life F1, there was, on average, a difference of 2.7 seconds.

Opmeer's time for Jeddah was 1:26.288secs, so with the difference added we should see a time of a high one minute 28 seconds.

That is in ideal conditions, though, and with the circuit expected to be greasy with the younger asphalt, a time of one minute 30 seconds is more realistic. Let's see how the track evolves over the weekend.

Who will be fast?

With the high-speed nature of the layout, Mercedes is expected to have a slight advantage over Red Bull, especially with Lewis Hamilton able to utilise his fresher engine.

Having said that, with parallels being drawn to Baku, Red Bull will not be hiding from the battle at all given the team's domination in Azerbaijan earlier this season.

The circuit characteristics should suit McLaren over Ferrari, although the strain on hybrid systems could play into the Scuderia's hands as the outfit aims to clinch third in the constructors' standings.

In the battle between the other teams, AlphaTauri will surely look to use the might of the Honda power unit to make up for Alpine's stellar Qatar Grand Prix, with fifth slipping from the Faenza-based team's grasp last time out.

But as in Losail, the speed will ultimately be determined by which teams and drivers get on top of set-up work in the opening practice session. Surprises could be had.

Where can we see overtaking?

This looks more of a drivers' qualifying layout, but the three DRS zones should at least keep the racing close.

Turn one is a definite overtaking opportunity as it provides the heaviest braking zone on the circuit and the slowest minimum speed.

If a driver is really close and incredibly brave, turn 13 offers a glimmer of hope, with the final corner the only other serious chance with the propulsion of DRS assisting following drivers.

The key will be down to how close drivers can follow through the first half of the lap. If they can stay within the DRS range for the first activation point then their efforts should be rewarded later in the lap.

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