By Paul Healy
Round two of the 2022 Formula 1 World Chau will take place this weekend in Saudi Arabia.
Last year Saudi Arabia held its first ever F1 race hosting the penultimate round of the 2021 Championship season in December. This weekend sees Formula One return to the costal city of Jeddah after just four months.
The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix takes place at the Jeddah Corniche circuit, a 6.174km street circuit . It is a super fast track with 27 corners, 16 to the left and 11 to the right .
Since last year the race track has been resurfaced and a number of corners have been widened, in particular the final turn which allows cars to carry more speed into the start / finish straight.
The lap record here is a 1:30.734 set by Lewis Hamilton last year. It is one of the fastest circuits on the F1 calendar with average speeds of up to 250km/h and sweeping high speed corners.
Last year the Jeddah circuit hosted the second to last race of the F1 2021 Championship. The title race between Hamilton and Max Verstappen was very tight. In qualifying on the Saturday it appears Verstappen was going to clinch pole position, however the Dutchman made an error and clipped the wall at the last corner. As a result The Red Bull driver started P3 on the grid while rival Hamilton took Pole.
In the race on Sunday at Jeddah last year the 7-time World Champion Hamilton took victory with the Brit bagging his 8th win of the season . Verstappen could only manage second . Hamilton also picked up a point for the fastest lap which meant both drivers were equal on points heading into the final round of the Season.
Following the season opener of 2022 In Bahrain Ferrari arrive in Saudi Arabia on the top of both the drivers championship and constructors championship thanks to a 1-2 victory by Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.
Ferrari surprised their rivals in the opening round thanks to the power train of the Ferrari F1-75. The season has only just begun and there’s a long way to go until the end of the season and the Italian team from Maranello can expect tough competition in the form of Red Bull and Mercedes.
Red Bull will be looking to put the events of Bahrain behind them as they focus on the second round of the Championship. In Bahrain both Red Bull RB18’s suffered power unit failures which saw Verstappen and Sergio Perez forced to abandon the race. Red Bull will be wanting to prove why they are one of the favourites by having a strong performance and hopefully having sorted out the engine issues for this weekend .
Mercedes will be hoping for an improvement this weekend in Jeddah. Hamilton finished third with team mate George Russell in fourth in his first race as a Mercedes driver. The Mercedes W13 lacked speed and appeared unstable during cornering and was greatly hampered by the porpoising issues.
The silver arrows appear to be unhappy with their setup currently as the team aren’t where they should be in terms of performance. This is unusual for Mercedes to be lacking this speed as in previous seasons Mercedes we’re the team to beat.
McLaren will be hopeful of a better weekend in Saudi Arabia with both Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris finishing in P14 and P15 outside the points in the opening round of the season. McLaren will need to improve to contend for the Championship or have they moved to the mid pack now? Only time will tell.
2022 Formula 1 Saudi Arabian GP session timings in the UK
Friday 25th March 2022
- Free Practice 1: 14:00 – 15:00 GMT
- Free Practice 2: 17:00 – 18:00 GMT
Saturday 26th March 2022
- Free Practice 3: 14:00 – 15:00 GMT
- Qualifying: 17:00 – 18:00 GMT
Sunday 27th March 2022
- Race: 18:00 BST*
* Please note that daylight saving begins in the UK at 1am on Sunday 27th March