P3 around Jeddah CornicheP3 around Jeddah Corniche
Fernando took a front row start to a second successive podium finish after a very strong showing at Jeddah, while Lance was unlucky not to bag home a good number of points after a great start and a superb opening-lap overtake.
Need to Know: Saudi Arabia
"The car felt very good in Bahrain, and we enjoyed our weekend scoring our first podium of the season. But we have now shifted all our focus to this weekend and Jeddah.
"It will be a very different challenge there as it is a completely different circuit to what we experienced in the opening race.
"We spent two weeks in Bahrain, and all became very familiar with the circuit and conditions so the learning curve from this Friday will be a lot steeper.
"Realistically I do not think it will be until after Australia that we will know better where the overall performance stands, as by then we will have had three very different race weekends on varied circuits in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Australia.
"Our feet remain on the ground and hard work is needed to maintain this start and try to get another strong result this weekend."
"I was really pleased with our performance in Bahrain, so we need to do our best to bring that positive momentum into the second race of the year in Saudi Arabia. As always, the first few races of the season are about learning the intricacies of the new car.
"The circuit in Jeddah is completely different to that in Bahrain, so it offers us an invaluable opportunity to collect more data and deepen our understanding of the AMR23.
"Jeddah Corniche Circuit is an incredibly fast track, and the fastest street circuit on the calendar, so it is great fun to drive but also a real challenge.
"We have seen Safety Cars on both occasions that we have raced in Saudi Arabia, so we need to ensure we are ready to capitalise on any opportunities that come our way."
Insight and Speed
With its fast nature and walls in close proximity, there has unsurprisingly been no shortage of interruptions in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix's short history. The inaugural race featured two red flags and four Virtual Safety Cars. Last year's event had just one Safety Car and two VSCs.
The C2, C3 and C4 compounds, which were used last year, return and are a step softer than the trio of tyre options featured in Bahrain. Strategy is often dictated by incidents in the race, meaning teams need to be prepared for late calls into the pits for a change of tyres.
While Jeddah Corniche Circuit features 27 corners, more than any other circuit on the calendar, there are just two significant overtaking opportunities. Turns One and 27 account for 89 per cent of all passes to date. A short run to T1 at the start limits opening lap overtaking.
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How do you find the compromise between downforce and drag?
In an ideal world, there would be a way to run maximum downforce without increasing drag and reducing straight-line speed. Adding downforce, and thus grip, to the car, will make it slower on the straights due to the drag.
Certain circuits and situations, such as Monaco or Mexico City, demand maximum downforce packages. Others, such as Monza or Spa, require low downforce or a set-up that finds a compromise between the two to maximise top speed. Jeddah is one of those situations where a fine balance needs to be struck.
It can be useful to have downforce through the corners, but this can leave a driver vulnerable down the straights. However, go too far the other way, and this will increase tyre wear, especially when following another car. It's a constant balancing act and teams must refine the car set-up to optimise the trade-off.
Unlocking the Lap
The opening sequence, Turns One and Two, is a tight left-right chicane that sets up the rhythm for the following sweeping corners. It is also where some of the overtakes in the race will occur. Getting this opening sequence right is crucial to mastering the first sector of the lap.
Turn 13 is a long, banked turn that is very easy to get wrong. It invites drivers to take more speed into the corner due to its camber, but the wall on the exit is equally as much of a deterrent. Another sequence of fast, sweeping corners follows, as well as the first of three DRS detection points.
No circuit on the calendar has more corners than Jeddah and Turn 27 – the final corner – concludes the tricky lap. It's another big overtaking opportunity, but this turn is deceptively tight. A DRS detection point precedes the corner itself, so drivers can play tactical games to try to ensure they have DRS on the run to Turn One.
Saudi Arabia may have a similar climate to Bahrain, but the hustle and bustle of Jeddah is a very different locale to the sand dunes of Sakhir.
Our Global Partner NetApp is a global hybrid cloud storage partner, with solutions that perform across a diverse environment allowing us to gain insights on weather-related data as well as telemetry data. Together, we explore how weather can affect track conditions this weekend.
Arguably the most challenging factor at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit is the wind. With many fast corners, and walls only shielding the cars from the wind in certain directions, being caught out by a sudden gust can be very problematic.
As was the case in Bahrain, the First and Third Free Practice sessions will be less representative than FP2, with the temperature dropping throughout the day.
With a 20:00 local start time for FP2, Qualifying and the Grand Prix, second practice is an important opportunity to get a handle on car set-up in track conditions teams will likely face in qualifying and the race.
In Formula One, you're constantly learning. Every lap, every mile, every second, is an opportunity to further your understanding and, ultimately, discover ways to unlock performance. In partnership with XP Inc., here are some of the key points for Saudi Arabia.
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