Need to know ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Just a few days after the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, the F1 field made the short trip from Manama to Jeddah for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. F1Technical's senior writer Balázs Szabó picks out key stats, trivia and facts ahead of the Jeddah F1 race.

Challenging track - Jeddah is the fastest street circuit of the year. The track was designed three years ago and has been continually improved since then. The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is run at night, against the breathtaking backdrop of the Corniche alongside the Red Sea, around 30 kilometres from the city centre.

The highest number of turns - The Saudi Arabian GP is held on a very high speed track: the Jeddah Corniche Circuit has 27 corners and is an adrenaline rush for the drivers as they complete the track at an average speed of about 250 km/h, pretty similar to that at Monza.

Long track – The track not only features the highest number of corners, but it is the second longest circuit after Belgium’s iconic Spa race course with a length of 6.174km. Drivers will complete 50 laps today to complete the race distance of 308.450km.

Track numbers – There is an offset of 250m between the start and finish line. As for the pitlane speed limits, drivers need to adhere to a maximum of 80kph in all sessions of the weekend.

DRS zones – There will be three DRS zones. The first one has a detection point placed on the exit to Turn 17 with the activation zone located on the exit to Turn 19. The second zone has its detection point on the entry to Turn 22 with the activation zone lying on the exit to Turn 25. The detection point of the third DRS zone is found on the exit to Turn 27 with drivers permitted to activate their DRS 170m after this very same corner.

Lap record – Lewis Hamilton not only claimed the win in the inaugural Jeddah race, but he also set the best lap in 2021 which is still the official lap record around the 6.174km track. The Mercedes driver posted a 1m30.734 as his best lap on course to claim victory in the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The fastest ever lap – Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position for the 2021 Jeddah race with a time of 1m27.511s which is still the best ever lap around the fastest street track in F1. Two years ago, Sergio Perez went on to claim his first career pole after setting the benchmark with a 1m28.200s. Last year saw the Mexican continue his impressive form in Jeddah, securing pole position with a time of 1m28.265s. Yesteday's qualifying session saw Max Verstappen post the quickest lap with a time of 1m27.472s which was just under a tenth of a second quicker than what Hamilton managed in 2021.

Middle range - For the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, C2 is the P Zero White hard, C3 is the P Zero Yellow medium, and C4 is the P Zero Red soft.

Strategy - The track surface provides a decent level of grip, but without being too abrasive. Considering the tyre performance shown on the longer runs completed during the practice sessions, a one-stop tyre strategy is the most likely to be picked by the teams.

Safety car – However, pre-race strategy calculations could be quickly thrown out of the window when safety car makes an appearance in the race. And the Jeddah Corniche Circuit has proved to be a track where safety car and virtual safety car usually make an appearance.

In fact, there have been plenty of Safety Car and VSC periods in Jeddah Corniche Circuit’s three appearances on the Formula 1 calendar so far. In 2021, the safety car was deployed two times with the VSC also deployed three times.

The Safety Car made a single appearance in the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, as the result of a crash for Williams’ Nicholas Latifi on the 17th lap. The virtual safety car was also deployed a single time after Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren car came to a halt near the entry to the pit lane.

Front limited - The circuit offers a medium level of grip but the sand blown onto the surface can influence this on the low-abrasion asphalt. The track, which overlooks the Red Sea, is not especially demanding in terms of traction and braking, with lateral forces predominantly affecting the tyres.

Changes - There are no significant changes of significance since last year's event.