If anyone ever told you that the sport had fallen out of love with street courses- then tell them, you don’t know your F1. For here is the truth. First there was Monaco. Then came Azerbaijan’s Baku. Both races were street duels, held inside a fortnight. Back to back street course races have its own fun. And so did Red Bull, by the way, winning both Grands Prix.
In the former, it was Max Vertappen’s mad max assault. And then, came the chance of his teammate, perhaps one of the more under-appreciated drivers of the current grid in Sergio Perez.
The next street race that is soon to be held, actually in the next few days is the Jeddah-bound Saudi Arabia GP.
This isn’t going to be just any other race, but is going to have a title-deciding outcome this year. And that’s even before the night-light bathing electrifying Yas Marina at Abu Dhabi hits us, which in all likelihood will produce the final showdown of a year where it’s been Lewis vs Verstappen or Verstappen vs Lewis, in that order.
The race track that was once a prime venue only and exclusively for MotoGP contests made its way to accommodate F1 GP battles.
That makes it 3 street courses this year. Now just imagine what might have happened, for argument’s sake, had Singapore been on the calendar for 2021?
But the key thing that stands out for the upcoming home to the Saudi Arabia GP is the fact that it’s yet to be seen or known as to who might the venue benefit the most.
Will the Jeddah Street course, that has funnily been compared, ridiculed even for being similar looking to a hairpin suit the Mercedes? Or will the set up being used by Red Bull find its sweet spot at the forthcoming contest at Jeddah Street track?
We don’t know. While surely, past run and past form does carry some hints but how can any verdict be delivered – even with the most vague affirmations- about a track that hasn’t previously featured on any F1 calendar. So speaking of Jeddah Street circuit- here’s what the team principal from Red Bull’s stable, Christian Horner had to say:
"I think it’s going to be tight. But it’s been incredibly tight so we go into those races eight points in the lead in the drivers championship, we’ve reduced the championship lead in the constructors to five points. So both are fully in play and that’s fantastic as we’re now at the climax of this of this world championship,” said the Briton.
Having said that, a senior figure from the Mercedes camp, Mr. Andrew Shovlin, head of the trackside engineering had a more precise observation about the track where F1 is soon to mark its debut Grand Prix:
"It’s another unknown and we’ve seen pretty big swings of performance over the recent races,” Mercedes’ head of trackside engineering Andrew Shovlin said.
“If we look at the track in Saudi, I think it should suit us. For Lewis, we have got the more powerful engine to go in the car, so that’s going to give him a useful boost.”
As such the track, titled the sport’s most ambitious racing tracks ever, features 27 corners and has no fewer than 3 DRS zones that are, allegedly, one after the other.
The 6.174 –long km track may also pose questions for the teams and their varying tire compositions in that the drivers in their Friday free practice, will try all different set ups to determine a possible (ideal) trend for quali and the main race.
A high-speed venue, speeds could touch slightly north of 330 kmph at Jeddah but so will the intensity in what may really be a touch and go triumph between the mercilessly fast Verstappen and the highly determined up Hamilton!
It’s all to play for!