Free Practice 2
F1 2021
Round 21

A First Look At Saudi Under The Lights

sa Jeddah

Our first visit to Jeddah means there is plenty to learn after a Friday when both Honda-powered teams showed encouraging pace.

A First Look At Saudi Under The Lights

Max started the weekend in impressive fashion, immediately going quickest early on and leading the way for the majority of the first session on the hard compound tyre. He would finish the session in second place after his first soft-tyre lap was ruined by traffic, but he was still just 0.05s off the fastest time.

Pierre was fourth quickest for Scuderia AlphaTauri as he also started strongly, with Sergio in 11th and Yuki 15th as all of the drivers got to grips with a brand new circuit, where the grip level was improving all the time.

The first session took place before sunset, but the second was more representative as it was held at the same time as qualifying, and it was Pierre who excelled as he ended up third fastest, just 0.081s away from top spot.

Max was within 0.2s of the fastest time in fourth, with Yuki’s eighth place particularly impressive because his best time came on the hard compound tyre. Sergio was ninth to ensure all four cars ended Friday in the top ten, although the long runs were cut slightly short by a big crash for Charles Leclerc that ended FP2 early, with the Ferrari driver thankfully unharmed in the incident.

We’ll now analyse all of the data gathered from the first day of running on the Jeddah Corniche Circuit to seek further performance gains ahead of Saturday’s action.

Toyoharu Tanabe
Toyoharu Tanabe
Honda Racing F1
This was our first day on track for the first ever Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Therefore, as usual at a brand new circuit the two main jobs during Friday practice were firstly to do as many laps as possible to allow the drivers to learn the track and secondly to see how accurate were the predictions from our own simulation work and that of our two teams so that we could optimise our settings. FP1 took place in the early evening, but the timing of FP2 was more relevant, as it ran at the same time as qualifying and the race. That meant we were also able to work on settings relating to cooling. We had a trouble-free day with our two teams and four cars and acquired plenty of chassis and PU data to analyse overnight to prepare as well as possible for the next two days. This is only the first day, but our positions on the time sheet for both teams are not too bad.

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen 33
Red Bull Racing
Overall, it’s a really cool track, there are a lot of fast corners and it’s fun to drive. We struggled to get heat into the tyres in FP2, which we will of course look into. Then we made a few changes from FP1 to FP2 which didn’t quite work but hopefully we can find the right balance come qualifying tomorrow. There are of course a lot of things to work on and improve so we’ll see what we can do to get more pace out of the car overnight. Looking ahead to qualifying, I think it might be quite difficult with the traffic but in general it’s hard to tell how Saturday is going to go as anything can happen but we’ll push hard and give it everything.

Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez 11
Red Bull Racing
It was a lot of fun out there today, it’s a really nice circuit, it is very fast and enjoyable to drive. It is going to be tricky in qualifying with traffic management, we saw that a bit when everyone was on the soft tyre at the end of FP2. I think it will be an interesting race because this track is challenging, if you make a mistake it can be extremely costly. In qualifying it will all be about trying to be in the right place at the right time. On the long runs we didn’t have enough laps to get a real read on how we will perform so I don’t think my time on the soft tyres was reflective on where we actually are. I think there is plenty more to come from the car, so hopefully we can find the right balance and pace to be in contention in qualifying. It is going to be hard to achieve the perfect lap out there but we also have a long race ahead of us on Sunday and anything can happen. We just have to stay up there and be on it as much as possible.

Pierre Gasly
Pierre Gasly 10
Scuderia AlphaTauri
I really like driving this track, the corners are amazing and there’s a big rush of adrenalin when you’re out there. The whole day has been really good for us and I’m pretty happy with the pace so far. We know that on Saturday we usually do quite well, so I’m fairly confident for tomorrow, as I think we can still improve.  I don’t feel quite as positive about the long runs though, so we still have some work to do to prepare for the race on Sunday.

Yuki Tsunoda
Yuki Tsunoda 22
Scuderia AlphaTauri
I’ve enjoyed today a lot as it’s a really fun track, especially the first sector, I’ve never driven a circuit with corners like this before, so it’s been pretty special. I think the pace today has been quite good. The hard tyre already works well here and then I think we need to adapt the car a bit to the other compounds, so we’ve got some work to do. Overall, I think we’re looking quite strong so far. I didn’t manage to complete any long runs yet, but today’s performance makes me positive.

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