2021 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix - Preview
WHY WE’VE CHOSEN THE TYRES
- For the first visit to the spectacular new Jeddah street circuit in Saudi Arabia, the 34th country to host a Formula 1 Grand Prix, Pirelli is bringing the three compounds in the middle of the range: the C2 as the P Zero White hard, C3 as the P Zero Yellow medium, and C4 as the P Zero Red soft: the most commonly-selected nomination this year.
- Jeddah is the second consecutive brand new circuit this year after Qatar two weeks ago, although the two tracks are completely different in terms of stress on the tyres – with Qatar being one of the most demanding circuits on the calendar for lateral forces. Jeddah is even more of a novel experience as the track has only just been completed, with very little data to rely on.
- Existing data and simulations from teams suggested the three middle compounds in the range are the best option for Jeddah and they should be well-suited to the demands of this very fast and flowing street race, run over 50 laps.
- The track has been designed by well-known circuit architect Hermann Tilke and is located in Jeddah’s Corniche area. This is the first proper street circuit since Baku in June.
- This 6.174-kilometre track – which runs alongside the coast – is the longest street circuit on the calendar (the second-longest of the entire year, after Spa) and is also set to be one of the fastest too, with an average speed of over 250kph predicted in simulations. That’s only just behind Monza, well-known as the ‘Temple of Speed’.
- One of the most demanding of the 27 corners is Turn 13: a left-hander featuring 12-degree banking that should place high g forces on the tyres. Jeddah has more corners than any other track on the calendar, which will keep the tyres working hard.
- Many parts of the circuit are quite narrow and unforgiving, with the walls close to the side of the track. This could lead to a reasonably high safety car probability, affecting strategy.
- Jeddah is a night race, like all the last three races of the season, with the grand prix getting underway at 20:30 local time. This means that the pattern of track temperature is different to a normal race, with temperatures dropping over the course of each session. FP1 and FP3 are held just before sunset, with only FP2 on Friday and qualifying on Saturday (both starting at 20:00) likely to be representative of the race.
- Conditions are set to be warm but humid, with the track located right along the northern coast at Jeddah. As it's never been used before, drivers can expect a slippery and ‘green’ track at the start of the weekend. Formula 2 and a Porsche competition are running as support events, which will help track evolution.
FORMULA 2: WHAT TO EXPECT
Formula 2 returns in Saudi Arabia, for the first of its final two race weekends, following a lengthy absence since Russia in September. The P Zero Yellow medium and P Zero Purple supersoft compounds have been chosen, which is also the most commonly-used combination this year.
Prema’s Oscar Piastri (confirmed as Alpine’s reserve driver in F1 next year) currently leads the standings by 36 points from Uni-Virtuosi’s Guanyu Zhou, recently announced as an Alfa Romeo F1 driver for 2022. As usual, the F2 drivers have six tyre sets in total (four mediums and two supersofts) available for the weekend’s three races. They can use their tyre allocation in any order they like throughout the weekend.
MARIO ISOLA – HEAD OF F1 AND CAR RACING
“Jeddah is probably the biggest unknown we face all year, as with the track being completed very close to the race. As a result, we can only rely on simulations from F1 and the teams, along with other information we’ve collected, to come up with our nomination. This street circuit looks set to be quite different to anything else, and the high speeds with fast corners will obviously play a big part in the way that the tyres behave. Jeddah has more corners than any other track on the calendar, and one of them – Turn 13 – also has 12-degree banking, so there are plenty of different elements that will keep the tyres working hard.”
|MIN. STARTING PRESSURES (slicks)||EOS CAMBER LIMIT|
|23.5 psi (front) | 20.5 psi (rear)||-3.25° (front) | -2.00° (rear)|
OTHER PIRELLI NEWS
- Sebastien Ogier claimed his eighth world rally title at the Monza Rally two weeks ago, and his first title on Pirelli tyres since the Frenchman claimed the Junior World Rally Championship back in 2008. Ogier will now end on his full-time career, completing only a part-time programme in 2022 as the WRC adopts a new hybrid formula with the latest Pirelli rally tyres.
- The final round of the Pirelli-equipped Intercontinental GT Challenge, due to take place this weekend with a nine-hour race at the South African circuit of Kyalami, has been postponed due to Covid-related travel restrictions. A new date will be announced shortly, with Audi currently leading the manufacturers’ standings from Ferrari.