The highest number of corners of any track this season and some very high average speeds are the strange mix of this new Jeddah Corniche street circuit, home to the first ever Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, which the Formula 1 drivers will now tackle in the penultimate round of the season. The two Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow drivers said they are keen to see what it’s like from inside the cockpit.
Competitive. The first up in front of the media in today’s FIA press conference was Charles Leclerc. “I have driven it on the simulator and I have to admit that, at first, I struggled with all these corners,” said the Monegasque. “But then, it seemed that it was reasonably easy to get into a rhythm, although I’d like to do a few laps before saying that. The first session will also be useful to see how competitive we are up against our rivals for third place. I think that after the engine updates we introduced for the final part of the season, now we really seem to have the third best car in the field. However, this track seems better suited to other cars rather than ours.” Carlos later echoed his team-mate’s comments. “The track seems very unusual and if possible, I will try and do more than just one lap by bicycle before the first free practice session, when we will find out if the average speeds are really as high as indicated in the simulation. As for the fight for third place in the Constructors,’ that’s our aim for the end of the season. The interests of the team always come first, but having said that, obviously with Lando (Norris) 7.5 points ahead of me and Charles 6.5, it would be nice to overtake them both,” admitted the Spaniard. “It doesn’t mean much but it would validate that I have had a good season.”
The good points of 2021. Carlos’ first season with the Scuderia was definitely a good one in terms of points scored and even more so in terms of his consistency and the Spaniard touched on the subject when asked to sum up his year. “I have finished in the top ten 13 times, which is definitely not a bad result, but I could have done better given that I also had two 11th places. Having said that, the most important thing that I’ll take home from this season is the relationship with the team which started to come together in January and I think we have now reached an excellent level of understanding.” Charles also spoke of the positives from this year. “The thing I’m happiest about this season, apart from the fact the car is more competitive, is the progress I’ve made in terms of my race management, by which I mean the way I look after the car, the tyres and my overall view of the race, which is something maybe I lacked in the past.”
Programme. The track action in Jeddah starts tomorrow: the first free practice session starts at 16.30 local (14.30 CET) with the second beginning at 20 (18 CET). The final hour available for fine-tuning the cars is on Saturday at 17 (15 CET) prior to qualifying at 20 (18 CET). The first Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, which runs over 50 laps, gets underway on Sunday at 20.30 (18.30 CET)