The second race of the season takes place at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, billed as “the fastest street circuit in the world.” It has 27 corners, the highest number of any track on the calendar and is 6.1 kilometres-long, also making it the longest street circuit in Formula 1. Even though it is a temporary facility, some parts of the track, along the Jeddah seafront, are permanent.
At dusk or later. Every track session starts at dusk or at night time. Qualifying and the race therefore take place under floodlights when track temperature is much lower than during free practice 1 and 3, which begin as the sun starts to set. The track features a mix of long wide corners taken at very high speeds and narrow, twisty sections, meaning the drivers are kept very busy. The track surface provides a decent level of grip, but without being too abrasive. One can rely on the track conditions evolving considerably over the weekend, with a one-stop tyre strategy being the most likely.
DRS zones. There are three DRS zones: between turns 20 and 22; between 24 and 27 and on the start-finish straight, which means there are plenty of overtaking opportunities, unusual for a street circuit. The action starts on Friday with two free practice sessions at 16.30 and 20 local (14.30 and 18 CET), while Saturday features free practice 3 at 16.30 (14.30 CET), followed by qualifying at 20 (18 CET) the same time the race gets underway on Sunday. Drivers will cover 50 laps, equivalent to 308.45 km.
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal
"We came away from the Grand Prix in Bahrain with a first picture of the strengths and weaknesses of our car and useful pointers for making progress. Comparing the SF-23’s qualifying and race performance, there’s still some room to improve our Sunday performance. We are working well as a team to extract the maximum from our package both in terms of drivability and reliability. We found the cause of the issue that stopped Charles in Sakhir and will use the third CU on his car, which means that we will take a grid penalty.
The Saudi Arabian track is very different to Bahrain in terms of layout and track surface, and top speed is particularly important. I’m confident that we can have a better weekend here".
Three questions to...
MATTEO TOGNINALLI, HEAD OF TRACK ENGINEERING
1. Saudi Arabia hosts the second round of the season at the Jeddah Corniche circuit. The race is run at night on a very high speed track, with blind corners and walls. What is the plan of action for the weekend to give the drivers everything they need?
"I’ve had this feeling quite often in my career, but I have to admit, this time it’s extra special. I can feel the passion not only from every single employee in Maranello, but also from the tifosi - and it only took me a couple of months to get infected by this passion and excitement. We can’t wait to get the season started".
2. This race comes with a high chance of red flags, Safety Cars and Virtual Safety Cars, so have you prepared for any specific scenarios?
"Testing was good and the three days last week showed that the car is matching our expectations and now we need to continue fine-tuning in order to get the most out of it. One thing is clear: this will be the Championship with the most races ever, so no matter what the result, the title won’t be won or lost in Bahrain".
3. Drivers are often asked what type of track they prefer, but what sort do the engineers like best?
"We know the track pretty well, but the changing air and track temperatures, as well as changing wind conditions, plus the new Pirelli tyres will make it very tricky to get the set-up of the car right, but both Carlos and Charles collected a lot of data during the three test days, so we should be well prepared for a good weekend".
Born on 27/9/1977
in Berbenno (Italy)
GP contested 1053
Seasons in F1 74
Debut Monaco 1950 (A. Ascari 2nd; R. Sommer 4th; L. Villoresi ret.)
Wins 242 (22,98%)
Pole positions 242 (22,98%)
Fastest laps 259 (24.60%)
Total podiums 798 (25.26%)
Ferrari Stats Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
GP contested 2
Debut 2021 (C. Leclerc 7th; C. Sainz 8th)
Pole positions 0
Fastest laps 1 (50%)
Total podiums 2 (33.33%)
Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: facts & figures
0"549. The margin between Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc in last year’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. There was a thrilling race-long duel for the lead between the two men which went all the way to the last lap, decided by this tiniest of margins, the smallest of the whole season.
5. The number of different leaders in the two editions of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. The only driver to have led both is Max Verstappen. In 2021, apart from him, Lewis Hamilton led for 18 laps and Esteban Ocon for one. Last year, apart from the Dutchman, Charles Leclerc led for 30 and Sergio Perez for six.
6. The number of UNESCO sites in Saudi Arabia. They are, the Al-Hikr archaeological site, the largest preserved site of the Nabatean civilisation; the Al-Turayf district, the first capital of the Saudi dynasty, found in the heart of the Arabian peninsula to the north-west of Riyadh; the historic centre of Jeddah; rock art in the Ha’il region; the Al-Hasa oasis and the cultural area of Bir Hima, in the arid and mountainous south-west of the country on one of the Arabian peninsula’s ancient caravan routes. This is also the site of a significant collection of rock art images, depicting hunting, fauna and flora and a lifestyle that has been in continuous existence for seven thousand years.
60. The number of overtaking moves over the first two editions of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, split 27 in 2021 and 33 in 2022. The driver who pulled off the most passes was Lewis Hamilton on nine (2 in 2021, 7 in 2022) followed by Lando Norris on six (2 in 2021 and 4 in 2022) and Valtteri Bottas with five (3 in 2021 and 2 in 2022). Carlos has four to his name, all of them in 2021 and Charles has three (2 in 2021 and 1 in 2022).
375. The speed in km/h at which the water comes out of the Re Fahd fountain in Jeddah on the Corniche. It is modelled on the Jet d’Eau in Geneva and was inaugurated in 1985. The fountain uses water from the Red Sea and it reaches a height of 312 metres at a speed in excess of current Formula 1 car top speeds. Illuminated at night, it can be seen from everywhere in the Saudi metropolis.