Formula 1’s newest circuit has the potential to be spicy

Formula 1 (Photo by AMER HILABI/AFP via Getty Images)
Formula 1 (Photo by AMER HILABI/AFP via Getty Images) /

The inaugural Saudi Arabia Grand Prix is booked for December on the 2021 Formula 1 calendar. The fast, twisty circuit has the potential to be spicy.

Saudi Arabia, the place with obvious masses of Formula 1 heritage, has been a controversial topic within the Formula 1 world since the announcement. But have some of the doubts over the event floated away now that we have seen a preview of the track layout?

Well, probably not, unsurprisingly. However, maybe the dismissive attitude is mainly due to other factors and not the track.

The track was revealed for the first time through Assetto Corsa, and it comes with plenty of pros and cons.

The 27-turn, 3.837-mile (6.175-kilometer) track is a recipe for a very spicy weekend, especially with it being a street circuit.

More from Formula One

The second longest track of the season with an average speed of 250 kilometers per hour — on a street circuit? Yes please, and thank you. With similar average speeds to the legendary Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, the drivers will have to have their focus levels raised to 11. Although, as good as the stats sound, not everything will be as exciting.

Firstly, the track map kind of looks like a squashed Suzuka Circuit. That is not a negative, but something is very noticeable.

A popular topic is the mainstream Formula 1 complaint: overtaking, or really, a potential lack thereof. Let’s remember one simple factor: It. Is. A. Street. Circuit. When it comes to racing on a street circuit, the “racing” becomes different.

Read. Trouble brewing at Mercedes?. light

With the obvious overtaking disadvantage, drivers have to think on their feet. Avoiding the walls becomes priority number one, then follows strategy. The anomaly here is Baku City Circuit, but only because it has a mile-long straight, plus the usage of DRS. How can you not overtake with that?

However, driving to the most effective strategy may not be so obvious at the Jeddah Street Circuit. Due to the multiple high speed corners, the tire abrasion will be high, meaning multiple strategies should be in play, which will again cause more debate.

Plenty of high-speed corners will indeed cause these cars to slide while heavy with fuel. This, incidentally, will provide a great opportunity for the photographers to capture impressive images of the back of the cars at full tilt, similar to the images from Degner at Suzuka Circuit.

There are two likely outcomes. Higher tire abrasion due to the genetics of the track will mean drivers will either have to drive slower or push harder.

Let’s start with driving slower. A fine example of this would be the opening half of the Singapore Grand Prix at Marina Bay Street Circuit. Drivers will be driving far away from their maximum ability to treat their tires like their children. Doing this ensures a longer tire life and fewer pit stops, but it rarely provides a lot of overtaking.

Now, turn the page. Drivers might actually have to push harder due to the mixture of strategies between drivers and teams. More pushing could lead to multiple pit stops, making the drivers work for their money. Of course, these strategies and outcomes will only work if drivers are able to do the most important thing: avoid the walls.

The track actually maintains similar characteristics throughout the lap. The opening corners are a reminder of the scrapped Hanoi Street Circuit in Vietnam. And thankfully for us fans, it was scrapped.

The next few parts of the track are eerily familiar to the first sector of Suzuka Circuit, with multiple left corners and right corners that flow. But the Jeddah Street Circuit version has walls breathing down on the cars.

After the slimmer “Spoon” curve, the track consists of ingredients from Circuit Paul Ricard, a hint of Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit with a sprinkle of Adelaide Street Circuit — all at high speed.

One thing is for certain; qualifying will be something mega, wet or dry. Of course, overtaking is limited. But that tends to happen a lot in the current era of Formula 1 anyway.

A big problem is that this event is always going to be one of the most controversial talking points for as long as its on the calendar, whether that is about the circuit layout, the location or other inhumane factors.

Purely based on a motorsport point of view, it is important to approach this race with an open mind. A famous saying is “Never judge a book by its cover”, and that could not work better than here. The time to judge will be when the cars are actually hitting the new pieces of tarmac spread in Saudi Arabia.

Next. Top 25 Formula 1 drivers of all-time. dark

And if the race weekend is as bad as many think it will be, then let’s get it scrapped and thrown into the draw of failed Formula 1 circuits.