Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Preview

Who will get a handle on this new track the fastest?

7w ago
852

We are now entering the final push for the season, and are at a brand new track, that was only completed a few hours before racing began today. It looks crazy fast, and could be dangerous too, I just hope we get through the weekend safely. In terms of whether we should race in Saudi Arabia at all, if we can make positive change here then yes, but if the country doesn’t change, then it isn’t a good look for F1!

On paper, due to the power requirements of this track, it looked to be a Mercedes track, also because you need a strong front end here, which they have. Hamilton should have the Brazil engine back in his car for Saturday, and although I doubt it will be as potent as it was then, there could still be a big gain from it! In practice they were quick, despite Max dominating the first half of FP1, it just seems the Mercedes took it easy to begin with, and were there when it mattered. I do think that Lewis has the best chance of winning this weekend, although Verstappen will not be far away from him. Bottas could be a dark horse too, not for the win, but to mess up Max’s rhythm possibly.

Red Bull desperately need to halt the momentum of their rivals, if they want to win the title, they can’t let Lewis keep winning. I know it is easier said than done, but they may even have to go bold on strategy to do so, especially with a high risk of the Safety Car on Sunday. It is funny, Verstappen is the one with the title lead, but he is not really in control of the championship in some ways. Their pace today wasn’t too bad, they were super-fast on the hard’s, and pretty good on the mediums, but like a lot of teams, couldn’t switch of the softs. That compound may be too soft for here, or it may just need optimising by the teams. Unless the team finds something overnight, they will likely be behind Mercedes, and may have to be clever in the race to get the win. Perez didn’t show much in practice, I just hope he is slowly building up to it, on a track which punishes the slightest error.

It was an OK day for Ferrari, with pace in the car, and we know how well they go on street circuits, so there is a great potential for them to get a lot of points this weekend. The downside though was that the day ended badly for the team, as Leclerc had a big crash at the corner, we all feared would claim some cars over the weekend, luckily it wasn’t horrible, but will mean a lot of work for the team overnight. McLaren was pretty anonymous all day to be honest, as we often find for them on a Friday, the constructors is pretty much done for them, but they will still want to end the year on a high.

AlphaTauri may have had the best day of any team out there, with both cars showing pace during the day, and being one of the teams to be able to switch on the softs to great effect. Gasly right now looks odds on to be best of the rest, which they need if they want to fight back at Alpine, and if Tsunoda can be there too, it will only help their effort. The unfortunate thing for AlphaTauri is that Alpine were up there too, as they continue with the pace they brought out of nowhere to the past few races. The gap may well close between those two teams by the end of the weekend, but maybe not by enough to have a true fight on our hands at Abu Dhabi.

Aston Martin were well down the order in FP2, maybe because they also couldn’t switch on the soft’s tyres, especially as tight street circuits have been good for them this year too. They could do better tomorrow then! Alfa Romeo aren’t quite as high up as we usually see them on a Friday, which suggests they are struggling too, as are Williams, which is sad to see on a tough weekend for the team.

I hope I am proved wrong, but I am fearing some issues in qualifying and race, due to the layout of the track. To be fair, it is a great track to watch cars go around, and could produce a great race, and has the potential to add more spice to the championship fight!

-M

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