Tyre preview for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Just a few days on from the curtain raiser in Bahrain, Formula 1 has decamped from the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea for round 2, which runs from Thursday 7 to Saturday 9 March. F1Technical's senior writer Balázs Szabó delivers his tyre preview.

Following the season opener in Manama that took place on the Bahrain International Circuit, the Jeddah Corniche Circuit will pose a very different set of challenge this weekend.

While the Sakhir permanent track features a very abrasive asphalt, where thermal degradation is particularly high and where stability under braking and for traction are key factors, the field now moves to a track with quite a smooth surface and very high speeds (an average per lap of 250 km/h) second only to Monza in this regard.

At 6.174 kilometres in length, it is the second longest track on the calendar, particularly twisty with 27 corners, the most of any circuit and on Saturday the drivers will tackle it 50 times. The fact that many of the turns are medium to high speed means the tyres are subjected to high lateral forces.

As in Bahrain, qualifying and the race take place in the evening, starting at 20.00 local time, with temperatures that are therefore lower than during the first free practice sessions on Thursday and Friday.

Softer compounds

While Pirelli brought the harder compounds to the season-opener in Bahrain, the second race of the season will see drivers use the three compounds from the middle of Pirelli's range. It means that the C2 will serve as Hard, the C3 as Medium and the C4 as Soft on the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

The Milan-based manufacturer has elected for relatively high minimum starting pressures, with 24.0 psi for the fronts and 21.0 psi for the rears. The camber limits are -3.25° for the front tyres and -1.75° for the rear tyres.

As for tyre preparation for a qualifying lap, the Jeddah circuit is a unique circuit. Drivers usually elect to complete two preparation laps in order to generate the right temperature level in the softs which means that traffic can be a problem during qualifying. Moreover, track evolution is usually high which means that it is crucial in Jeddah to choose exactly the right moment to go out on track to set a good lap time

Despite the softer compounds, Pirelli expects drivers to perform a one-stop strategy, with drivers swapping between Medium and Hard depending on their grid positions. It is because degradation is low and overtaking is pretty tricky, with the best opportunity coming on the entry to turn 1.

However, given the fact that the Jeddah circuit is a street circuit and there are not many run-off areas, the risk of accidents is quite high, as is therefore the chance of seeing the Safety Car on track or even having the race red-flagged.