Formula One

Jeddah Corniche Circuit: Saudi F1 Track Layout, Turns and DRS Zones Analysed

The F1 circus has now arrived in Saudi Arabia. Rewinding two years, mere weeks before Saudi Arabia’s inaugural race, the track was still under construction. But the miracle workers in Jeddah made sure that the track was F1-worthy come the Grand Prix weekend.

The twisting yet claustrophobic nature of this track poses a huge challenge. The drivers must prepare themselves mentally for this circuit. One wrong decision, and you end up in the concrete walls, like in Monaco.

Saudi Arabia GP Track Layout Map: A unique Circuit

The infamous F1 track designer Herman Tilke’s firm was contracted to design this unique gem of a racetrack. The Jeddah Street Circuit, as it is officially known, is the longest street circuit on the calendar, standing at an impressive 6.175 kilometers in length. The track has a mix of heart-stopping high-speed straights, hairpin turns, and, of course, extremely tight corners.

Saudi Arabia F1 Track Layout

There is also the absurdly long 1.3-kilometer straight, where cars have clocked speeds as high as 322 kilometers per hour, while average speeds have been 252 km/h. This also makes the Jeddah Street Circuit the fastest street circuit in the world, ranking second only to Monza or ‘The Temple of Speed’.

The Twists and Turns

The circuit has 16 left and 11 right turns, each as impressive and challenging as the previous one. For those who think that these many turns are unnecessary, they seem to forget that this is also the second-longest track on the calendar, only behind the legendary Spa-Francorchamps. The drivers must navigate each turn with extraordinary precision because even half a mistake would mean having your car wrecked in half like Mick Schumacher in 2021.

There have been numerous safety concerns, primarily due to poor visibility because of the circuit’s sharp, bendy nature. After intense complaints and a few incidents in the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, the track was made safer. Multiple points of the circuit were widened, and promoters were pushed back. The fence placement was adjusted, and many bevelled kerbs were added to reduce speed. Also, multiple turns had their infamous concrete walls pushed back to ensure better visibility.

The Dangerous But Rapid DRS Zones of Jeddah Street Circuit

The DRS zones are meant to increase overtaking and let the cars fight for positions more often. While it certainly has improved the quality of racing, there have been a few who have been concerned with how this might work on street circuits. The Jeddah Street Circuit consists of three DRS zones. The shortest of the three is between turns 20 and 22. It begins just before the left-hand turn 26 and ends at turn 27. The final and most important zone is on the lengthy, 1.3-kilometer-long main straight.

Saudi Arabia GP Circuit
Circuit atmosphere – Aerial view of the circuit. Formula 1 World Championship, Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia – Photo by Icon sport

These DRS zones have always produced high-quality racing, and for the 2023 event to further improve racing, the final DRS detection zone was moved to after the final corner to prevent incidents like when Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc let the other car pass before overtaking with the help of DRS.

Track Features

The Jeddah Corniche Circuit is certified by the FIA as Grade 1, like all the other circuits on the F1 calendar. It is reported to have a seating capacity of 70,000 and houses state-of-the-art facilities that rival those at other venues in the Middle East.

The facilities were made with the needs of the spectators in mind. There are multiple entry-exit gates and ample parking to provide easy access to the spectacle. Expecting the star-studded sport to bring international motorsport enthusiasts, the circuit was built close to the airport and is only a 30-minute drive away from it.

Jeddah Street Circuit Racing History

2021Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2022Sergio Perez (Red Bull)Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix has had some of the most intense races in the past couple of years. In 2021, Max Verstappen was on one of his many godly Saturday qualifying sessions, only for him to crash into the concrete wall while setting a lap that would have him start on pole. He then crashed with Lewis Hamilton in the race and was given a 10-second time penalty for his antics. Estaban Ocon lost out to Valterri Bottas for the final podium place, where the former was outpaced in a drag race to the finish line.

The 2022 weekend was similarly entertaining. Sergio Perez took his maiden pole position after a whopping 215 qualifying sessions. After an ill-timed pit stop, Sergio was out of the running for the win, leaving Max and Charles to fight for the top step of the podium. They engaged in the infamous DRS battle, with no driver wanting to overtake as that would mean they would not be able to activate their DRS in the next DRS zone. Eventually, Max Verstappen crossed the finish line to take his first win of the season.

What Lies Ahead for 2023

The Red Bulls have been on red-hot form so far this season. We can expect Max to run away with the win if he starts on pole, but we also shouldn’t discount a certain Fernando Alonso from fighting for the podium places. All in all, expect a lot of wheel-to-wheel racing from the pack behind the top five, and rest assured that the three DRS zones will muster up some drama.

If you want to learn more about the upcoming race in Jeddah and what we expect to happen on this unique street circuit, check our favourite Saudi Arabia GP predictions and betting tips.

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