Drivers were unanimous in their praise of the spanking new Jeddah Corniche Circuit, the latest track on the Formula 1 calendar describing it as an “adrenaline rush” with challenges as well as perils which is going to make for an interesting qualifying and race.
The venue for the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was built in record time, as finishing touches were still being applied during the first practice day. It is Monaco on steroids, played in fast-forward and already proving to be equally unforgiving.
Nevertheless, all the drivers gave F1’s 77th venue a resounding thumbs up after two hours of free practice on Friday. This is what they had to say about the Jeddah Corniche Circuit:
Lewis Hamilton: “The track was rapid – unbelievably quick and with a lot of grip as well. Once you get in the rhythm, it’s beautiful to drive.”
Valtteri Bottas: “The track is really cool, it’s full-gas and close to the walls at high speed which is exactly what you want and enjoy – it’s an adrenaline rush.”
Max Verstappen: “Overall, it’s a really cool track, there are a lot of fast corners and it’s fun to drive.”
Sergio Perez: “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.”
Carlos Sainz: “Just getting to know the track and getting used to such a different kind of circuit. Going at these speeds between walls is really intense and gives you a big rush of adrenaline.”
Charles Leclerc: “I really liked the track itself and I’d say that the best part to drive is around the high speed section. It is however unforgiving and there is no room for any mistakes. The most challenging part is getting into the right rhythm with all the blind corners there are. But, as soon as you do, it’s even more exciting to drive.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “It’s a very fast circuit, lots of fast corners which means it will not be easy to overtake without a big speed differential. I say a lot of fast corners, but there’s a lot more of them on the map than what it feels in the car. Only about half of them are actual corners, most of them are flat out and may as well be straights! Sure enough, at least this circuit feels different from many others and it was quite ok to drive. Dealing with traffic in qualifying will be tricky, especially in the fast parts”
Pierre Gasly: “I really like driving this track, the corners are amazing and there’s a big rush of adrenalin when you’re out there.”
Yuki Tsunoda: “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.”
Daniel Ricciardo: “It’s a challenging circuit but that does make it really exciting. It’s got good flow, good grip, so I’m happy with the layout. I think it’s quite different to what we’ve already been to, as well, so that’s always fun.”
Lando Norris: “a new circuit, a new challenge, and exciting to get out there and feel the circuit. Definitely one of the trickier ones to put everything together and get the accuracy needed to be close to the walls – but not too close, obviously.”
Sebastian Vettel: “It is a fast and fun track to drive, but it is difficult to hook up a lap. I was able to get into a rhythm this afternoon and felt confident in the car, but it became more tricky in the nighttime conditions.”
Lance Stroll: “It was cool to experience the circuit for the first time today and it is a very fast track. I think we can see that overtaking will be challenging on Sunday, so qualifying will be very important. We do not have a big braking zone to help overtaking, but that means the track has a real flow to it.”
Fernando Alonso: “I like the track. Every new track requires a lot of work to go into it and I think we got through quite a lot today. The circuit feels fast as expected, but it seems to have quite high grip as well, which was a nice surprise, especially coming to a street circuit.”
Esteban Ocon: It’s certainly not an easy circuit to master as it’s very fast and very demanding physically. Above all, I’d say it’s tough for mental efficiency and remaining focused for the whole lap, even on the straights where you have to keep an eye on slower cars ahead. You have to be absolutely on it here in every aspect. The grip was good from the start and I was quite impressed with that. We’ve seen new tracks in the past with poor grip, so it was a nice surprise here to be able to push straight away.”
George Russell: “It is an incredibly fast track and it punishes you heavily if you make a mistake. You must be very precise with where you are positioning the car and tomorrow in Qualifying it will be very tricky.”
Mick Schumacher: “It’s very quick and quite intense. I think we got to learn the track and understand it and now I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Track conditions are improving a lot as it was very dirty to begin with, so I expect there to be a lot of track evolution in general.”
Nikita Mazepin: “It’s a very different track to what we’ve experienced this year – and not only this year for me – but in my career. It’s a track that requires a lot of confidence and knowledge of where it’s going because a lot of the corners look the same.”
On Sunday, Jeddah Street Circuit hosts Round 21 of the 22 race 2021 F1 world championship.
— Formula 1 (@F1) December 3, 2021