Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One™ Team narrowly missed out on points in the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Lance Stroll recovered from a challenging qualifying to take 11th while Yuki Tsunoda and Kimi Räikkönen both collided with Sebastian Vettel, ruining his race and forcing him to retire.
It was a shame not to get points, especially because we came so close.
"It was a shame not to get points, especially because we came so close in the end in P11. The first red flag went against us because we had pitted earlier, but we were able to make a couple of very good restarts following the stoppages to climb to P10. We initially pulled a good gap to [Lando] Norris behind, but overtaking proved easier than expected and we just lacked a little bit of pace on the straights, so we could not hold onto P10. I was optimistic because the balance of the car felt good, but P11 was probably the maximum in the end."
A tough way to end the race and a shame we lost the chance to fight for points properly.
"A tough way to end the race [with significant floor damage] and a shame we lost the chance to fight for points properly. Things were going our way in the early part of the race. Having started in P17, we were up inside the points after the restarts. I was running ahead of the Ferraris, but we did not have the strongest pace today and we were under pressure. Yuki [Tsunoda] hit me in the first chicane, which dropped me down the pack. Then there was the incident with Kimi [Räikkönen], which completely destroyed my race [with the damage caused]. I had the track position and there is not enough room for two cars in that corner so I think Kimi needed to back out."
From here we go straight to Abu Dhabi, where we hope to finish the season in better style.
"After an incident-packed evening Sebastian eventually had to retire a few laps from the end, his car too damaged as a result of contact with other cars, particularly Kimi’s [Räikkönen] Alfa Romeo. Lance might well have scored points but, unfortunately, he was disadvantaged when we tyre-stopped him during a Safety Car deployment triggered by Mick’s [Schumacher] accident, a logical strategy that was stymied by the red flag that followed soon after. In the end he finished a plucky 11th. From here we go straight to Abu Dhabi, where we hope to finish the season in better style, ideally with a double points finish."
Saudi Arabia Grand Prix
Guide to Saudi Arabia
Until Formula 2 competes on the Saturday, no team or driver will have gone wheel-to-wheel in a race on the Jeddah Corniche Circuit. With plenty of unknowns ahead, our Title Partner Cognizant analyses recent car performance and pre-race data to present the challenges expected in Jeddah.
Cognizant's Keys to the Race
The C2, C3 and C4 tyres appear for the 12th and final time this season. But continuity counts for little initially, as the principal focus will be understanding the new circuit as quickly as possible during the sessions. That's made more complex by track evolution and sessions taking place in both evening and night conditions.
While overtaking opportunities will only become clear later in the weekend, there are three DRS zones on the circuit at Turns 20-22, Turns 25-27 and Turns 27-1. With all three zones coming late in the lap, it's likely that the final sector will be the best place to make a move on Sunday.
Predicting session interruptions is challenging, but new circuits tend to incur more stoppages due to unfamiliarity. The first race weekend in Baku back in 2016 had three red flags in practice and qualifying as drivers explored the limits of the then-new street track. In addition, 13 of the 20 races to date in 2021 have featured at least one Safety Car and/or Virtual Safety Car interruption.
Combining the challenge of a street circuit with a high-speed, 27-corner, long lap makes the challenge of hooking it up around the Jeddah Corniche Circuit all the more challenging. Our official Cyber Security Partner SentinelOne presents the key challenges behind a lap in Jeddah.
Unlocking the Lap
While there has never been a representative lap of the new Saudi Arabia circuit, simulation gives an idea as to what to expect.
The run to Turn One could be a flashpoint in the race as drivers blast along a main straight of over 500m before braking into a very tight and narrow left-right flick through Turns One and Two.
The narrowness of the circuit is demonstrated through Turn Three’s kink and the winding Turns Four through Eight, which should feature minimal braking and high speeds.
Angle of attack and entry speeds will be crucial to Turn Nine, a sharp-angled right hander that follows immediately after the slalom to Turn Eight.
Unlocking the Lap
Drivers will get right up to the wall on entry and dart left through Turn 10, avoiding running wide at the exit, which segues into Turn 11.
It's then another high-speed run all the way to the long Turn 13 hairpin. Now on the back of the circuit, this is a continual snaking run back towards the finish line.
Turns 15 and 16 mirror the style of Turns Nine through 11 before drivers fly towards the three DRS zones.
A dab of brakes into Turn 22 may create opportunities for drivers willing to brake late and take a riskier outside line, but the flat-out gradual curve of Turns 25-27 offer the best chance of slipstreaming.
The lap then ends with another hairpin before drivers go again for another relentless high-speed lap in Jeddah.
While Saudi Arabia has no Formula One history to draw upon, Global Partner NetApp brings insight to the newest race on the calendar.
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