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    Up next for the SF-24, Saudi’s high-speed challenge

    Jeddah 05 marzo 2024

    After the season-opener in Bahrain, Scuderia Ferrari and the other nine Formula 1 teams have travelled the 1,400 kilometres to Saudi Arabia, the setting for the second round of the championship. The race takes place on the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, which strange as it sounds, is a cross between Spa-Francorchamps and Monaco, being an ultra-high-speed narrow strip of asphalt in between the barriers where drivers rocket through at an average speed of around 250 km/h.

    The track. The seafront track first appeared on the calendar just three years ago, but it’s already made a name for itself because of its unusual layout, starting with the fact that it has no fewer than 27 corners, the most of any circuit on the championship trail. Then there are the unforgiving walls. The fast and winding first sector is undoubtedly the most impressive, especially during qualifying, with grid position being very important here. In fact, even though it is 6.1 kilometres long, overtaking is not easy: the chicane at turn 1 is one of the key points as there’s not much the car in front can do to block a pass, although the three DRS zones mean the driver overtaken does not have long to wait to mount his own attack.

    Programme. Although the actual session times are different, the timetable is a close copy of the Bahrain Grand Prix, as everything is again brought forward a day with the media day on Wednesday. The first free practice take place on Thursday, at 16.30 and 20.00 local (14.30 and 18.00 CET). The third and final hour of practice starts on Friday at 16.30 (14.30 CET), followed by qualifying at 20.00 (18 CET). The 50 lap race gets underway on Saturday at the same time.

    Strategy. Being in the Middle East, Jeddah is used to seeing very high temperatures, although the track’s position on the coast means the heat is usually less extreme. While Bahrain was actually quite cool, the forecast for this coming week in Saudi Arabia is for highs of around 30 during the day dropping to 23/24 after sunset. The track surface is not particularly abrasive, therefore it’s not tough on the tyres, which explains why a one-stop race is usually the way to go. However, the dangers of the aforementioned walls mean chaos awaits around every corner and team strategy has to be flexible to adapt to new scenarios in a matter of seconds.

    F1 Academy gets underway. This weekend at the Jeddah Corniche circuit marks the start of the season for the F1 Academy, the all-female series that this year has strong Formula 1 backing, with all ten teams supporting one driver each. The Maranello marque is a firm believer in this initiative and is backing two of the young women from the Scuderia Ferrari Driver Academy. Maya Weug will be in the number 64 car, run by Prema in the Scuderia colours, with further support from its partners, Santander, Puma and Richard Mille, while Aurelia Nobels races in Puma colours in the #22 car entered by ART Grand Prix.

    Fred Vasseur

    Team Principal

    The first race of the season confirmed that we worked in the right direction over the winter. In Sakhir, we saw that the gaps in qualifying have closed up even more, although the distance to Max Verstappen in the race is still significant. However, it’s encouraging that we have reduced that gap compared to last year, which is a good starting point. In Jeddah we will face a completely different test and we want to check if the positive signs we have seen from the SF-24 in the past couple of weeks are repeated on this very different track. The track surface is very smooth so tyre degradation should be negligible, while for the first time we will deal with very high speed corners that will highlight the cars’ downforce and aerodynamic efficiency. Charles and Carlos have always gone well at the Jeddah Corniche and I expect them to be front-runners again, although once again it will all be very close. They should be able to do well in both qualifying and the race.

    Ferrari Stats

    GP contested 1074
    Seasons in F1 75
    Debut Monaco 1950 (A. Ascari 2nd; R. Sommer 4th; L. Villoresi ret.)
    Wins 243 (22.60%)
    Pole positions 248 (23.07%)
    Fastest laps 259 (24.09%)
    Podiums 807 (25.05%)

    Ferrari Stats Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

    GP contested 3
    Debut 2021 (C.Leclerc 7st; C.Sainz 8nd)
    Wins 0
    Pole positions 0
    Fastest laps 1 (33,33%)
    Podiums 2 (33.33%)



    1. Jock, apart from working with Charles in Formula 1, you’re also head of the Scuderia Ferrari Driver Academy. We have the F1 Academy series Round 1 starting in Jeddah this weekend. How is Ferrari represented in this championship?

    F1Academy is a new venture for Ferrari and we are excited to be able to field Maya Weug as the official Ferrari driver in car #64, in addition we also have her fellow SFDA driver Aurelia Nobels in the #22 car backed by our partners, Puma. The F1Academy series will, this season, feature drivers from each of the F1 teams, sporting their team’s F1 livery. This represents a first in the junior formulae and suitably reflects the desire at Ferrari to promote female talent and nurture it as an integral part of the F1 team.

    2. How important is it for this series to have strong links with Formula 1 and how important is it for SFDA to try and help the girls to find their place in the world of motorsport?

    I feel it is very important to forge a strong bond between all our young drivers and our core racing activity in F1; by maintaining my involvement in every Grand Prix with Charles, I can ensure that close connection. The F1 Academy calendar offers both our girls an invaluable opportunity to race on Grand Prix circuits alongside the F1 schedule in a highly competitive and high profile series. This opportunity is the perfect stepping stone for young female drivers and they will benefit from a promoter with great vision, a highly professional organisation structure and a high energy media team, all key factors for a successful campaign. This generation of girls has a huge responsibility to pave the way for future generations, as such they are truly pioneers, having to establish a pathway, create opportunity and raise awareness. The F1Academy series offers them the unique platform from which to do that and we at SFDA are thrilled to be part of it. SFDA has always sought to give our young drivers the opportunity to rub shoulders with our F1 drivers, to see them close up and learn from them simply by observing. By racing in F1Academy alongside the F1 teams, all the drivers will also have the chance to represent themselves, to meet people and introduce their own unique characters into the pit lane; for them this is an opportunity to be both inspired and inspirational.

    3. What were your final words of advice for Maya and Aurelia ahead of the season and what can be expected of them on track?

    Managing expectations is one of the cornerstones of our work in SFDA and indeed in F1; Maya and Aurelia are both very focused and determined to win, it’s my job to keep those emotions under control and ensure they are working well with their respective teams and remaining objective. As with any athlete, the key to success is to continue to learn, to strive to be better every day, these are values we must put across to Maya and Aurelia, but in turn they must pass those values on to those who follow them. Again I stress that both these girls have a key role to play in making sure we open doors for the youngsters of tomorrow. The spotlight is on them and at times the pressure will be high, but my final advice will be to enjoy themselves, they are young, they are following their dreams and the best way they can achieve something is to enjoy the journey.

    Jock Clear
    Nationality: British
    Born 12/9/1963
    City: Portsmouth (UK)


    0. The number of times there have been two Formula 1 World Championship events on consecutive Saturdays. It’s never happened before. The Bahrain Grand Prix was brought forward a day in order to maintain a seven-day gap to this weekend’s race on 9 March to respect the start of the month of Ramadan the following day.

    16. The number of ingredients in “kabsa,” the typical Saudi dish. You will need chicken thighs, onions, garlic, cloves, cinnamon sticks, cardamon, bay leaves, dried lime, rice, papa, chilis, tomato sauce, almonds, pine nuts, raisins, salt and a cup of water. There are several cooking methods, in some the chicken is first cooked separately from the rice, removed from the pan and browned in the oven. Traditionally, it is cooked in a “mandi” or clay oven.

    30. The laps led by a Ferrari at the Jeddah Corniche, all courtesy of Charles Leclerc who, in 2022, fought wheel to wheel with Max Verstappen all race long, eventually finishing second just 549 thousandths behind the Dutchman.

    43. The diameter in metres of the clock on the Abraj Al Bait Towers, the biggest in the world. It is located on a building in Mecca, at a height of 601 metres and to give you an idea of its size, it is ten times bigger than London’s Big Ben.

    100. The approximate number of camels sold every day in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. It is home to the largest market in the world for this animal, three square kilometres in size, it’s located in the Al-Qassim suburb of Buraidah and opens every day at 6am. Once the country’s main form of transport, the dromedary or one-humped camel is still very important in the country, as they are an excellent source of milk, meat and leather. Saudi Arabia is host to the King’s Cup, an epic race with a field of up to 2000 camels, which takes place over a 19 kilometre course during the national festival of Janadriyah.