The second round of the Formula 2 championship takes place this weekend at the demanding Saudi Arabian track and the two Ferrari Driver Academy students face a complex challenge on their first visit to this circuit.
The 6.174 kilometre-long Jeddah Corniche circuit is one of the most demanding on the calendar. It is made up of a mix of normal roads and sections of permanent track and, unusually for a typically narrow street circuit, the cars hit very high speeds. When Arthur Leclerc and Oliver Bearman tackle Friday’s free practice and experience the track for the very first time, they will be able to count on their time spent in the Maranello simulator a few days ago.
Other unfamiliar tracks. New venues will be a regular feature of the 2023 season for Arthur and Oliver. Their maiden Formula 2 race a fortnight ago was run on the Bahrain circuit which they already knew and the outcome was generally positive, even if they did not pick up as many points as they had expected. Leclerc was sixth in the Feature Race, while Bearman struggled with tyre degradation.
Ready for the unexpected. “The aim at the first round was to understand where we were starting from and to identify areas where we need to improve,” explained the head of the FDA, Marco Matassia. “After that, we immediately began work on some aspects that created problems in Sakhir and this weekend in Jeddah will be our first chance to see if we are going in the right direction. It won’t be easy for Arthur and Oliver to get to grips with one of the most challenging circuits of the season in the limited time available, but this is all part of their learning curve. We spent a lot of time in the simulator trying to look at all the problems that could arise. Our aim is to not be caught out by anything unexpected.”
Programme. The weekend in Jeddah gets underway with free practice on Friday at 13.55 local (11.55 CET), followed by qualifying starting at 18 local (16 CET). Saturday means it’s time for the Sprint Race over 20 laps, starting at 18.10 local (16.10 CET) with the 28 lap Feature Race rounding off the event at 16.15 local (14.15 CET).