This Grand Prix has quickly become one of my favorites on the race calendar. It’s the third time that Formula 1 will be racing around the Corniche circuit in Jeddah, with both previous races providing some very good racing and entertainment for us. What’s more important is that this circuit is very much driver focused, just like Monaco. Whilst the previous Bahrain GP’s track layout is more of a chassis focused circuit. The Corniche circuit is a very fast one, so it’s going to be interesting to see how the rule changes, the car and chassis development will impact the drivers. It’s to be noted that there have been some safety improvements around the circuit, which altered the circuit slightly, particularly around turn 14.
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Whilst all eyes will be on Fernando Alonso who’s third favorite to win this weekend, there are a number of other notable drivers we need to look out for at this circuit. Namely, it’s French man Esteban Ocon. The alpine driver had a horrid start at the season opener after accumulating a ridiculous 35 seconds worth of penalties. Even the team noticed the ridiculousness after they had decided to retire his car from the race, saving precious mileage off their engines. There’s no doubt that the Alpine have a decent package, after Pierre Gasly drove a superb race in Bahrain to finish 9th after starting dead last. Ocon can certainly match up his team mate’s pace and he’ll be looking to regain control this weekend, we might just see a team mate battle unfolding.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolf was clearly unhappy with the Mercedes race pace with both himself and seven time World Champion, Lewis Hamilton being very vocal about the car’s performance, or lack thereof. They believe in their aerodynamic concept and have followed through with it but at a cost. When customer teams using Merc engines are performing better, I’m sure that can be demotivational. The team needs to drastically change their aerodynamic concept or be prepared to hunt for whatever scraps that remain after the Austrian Red Bull team seem as if they’re going to dominate.
Red Bull showed up with a slightly different car when compared to last years’ car. During pre-season testing and practice at the Bahrain GP they seemed as if they were lacking pace, until qualifying and the race came along, they absolutely dominated. Sparking comments from other teams and drivers such as ‘’It’s clear who’s going to be successful this year’’ and ‘’Red Bull should win every race this season’’.
As for the team from Maranello, what can I say? They’re not having the best start to the season with Leclerc retiring from the first race and before the weekend for round 2 even started, he was hit with a 10 place grid penalty for replacing another control electronics power unit component, for the third time. As a result, no matter where the Monagasque qualifies, he will start 10 places below that. Yet Charles is in high spirits and mentioned that a decent result is still on the horizon for him in Jeddah. As for his Spanish teammate Carlos Sainz, he’s carrying whatever title hopes they may have, and with a car that doesn’t seem to be so kind to its tires, we wish him the best of luck.
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