2023 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix - Preview
“It’s vital to find the right setup and be ready for anything at Jeddah: a track that’s very different to Bahrain”
“For the rapid Jeddah track, we have confirmed the same compound choices as last year as they showed very good consistency throughout the race weekend. In the two races held up to now, the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix has been quite unpredictable because of the frequent safety cars and neutralisations, being a typical street circuit. A one-stopper was the fastest option in 2022, when a safety car led to an early pit stop for most of the drivers, who went on to finish the race on the hard tyre. Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc fought hard on this strategy thanks also to the durability of the tyres, with the Red Bull driver winning by less than a second at the end of a great race. The teams will also have to work hard on car setup because they will only have free practice to fine-tune the balance on this track with the latest tyres. The first race in Bahrain was all about traction and braking but Jeddah instead focuses on lateral forces, with completely different characteristics to Sakhir.”
THE TYRES ON TRACK
- For the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, C2 is the P Zero White hard, C3 is the P Zero Yellow medium, and C4 is the P Zero Red soft.
- Jeddah is the fastest street circuit of the year. The track was designed three years ago and has been continually improved since then. This year, there are some new rumble strips on the escape roads while some of the kerbs have been smoothed. A number of the walls have been repositioned, such as those at Turns 8 and 10 (to improve visibility on entry) and Turn 23 (to slow the corner down).
- Car setup will be very different to Bahrain. For Jeddah, it's important to have good stability throughout the fast corners that characterise the track.
- The circuit offers a medium level of grip but the sand blown onto the surface can influence this on the low-abrasion asphalt. The track, which overlooks the Red Sea, is not especially demanding in terms of traction and braking, with lateral forces predominantly affecting the tyres.
- As was the case in Bahrain, this will be another night race – but the start takes place two hours later, at 20:00. This is the same time that qualifying and FP2 is also run. Temperatures are expected to remain largely consistent throughout each of these sessions as well as the race. The other free practice sessions are scheduled for late afternoon, in asphalt temperatures that can easily be 10 degrees hotter.
Théo Pourchaire (ART Grand Prix), who won the Feature Race at Sakhir, currently leads the Formula 2 drivers’ championship. Ralph Boschung (Campos Racing), first in the Sprint Race and runner-up in Sunday’s Feature Race, is just four points behind. The second round of the championship will be held in Jeddah this weekend, with the P Zero Yellow medium and P Zero Purple supersoft compounds nominated.
Rally Mexico, the third round of this year’s Pirelli-equipped World Rally Championship, takes place during the same weekend as the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Pirelli’s Scorpion rally tyres will make their season debut in Mexico at the first gravel round of the championship.
In the opening round of the European Rally Championship with the Serras de Fafe Rally, Pirelli made it a trio by winning in all categories, bringing Hayden Paddon and his navigator John Kennard to the top of the overall podium with a Hyundai i20 N Rally2. The former Pirelli Star Driver clinched victory on the all-gravel event last weekend, recording his debut ERC win. Pirelli drivers also triumphed in the RC3 and RC4 categories, with Jon Armstrong (Ford Fiesta) and Roberto Daprà (Peugeot 208). All the Pirelli crews used tyres from the Scorpion range for gravel on the three different rally cars.
Intercontinental GT Challenge
It was a BMW one-two at the recent Kyalami 9 Hours, round two of the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli. The winning margin was just 1.7 seconds after a full day of racing at the South African track, which last hosted Formula 1 in 1993 as the season-opener.