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2021 Saudi Arabian GP build up


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#1 TomNokoe

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Posted 01 December 2021 - 19:43

The penultimate round of this year's Formula 1 season brings us to the sandy sweeps and straights of Jeddah for the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. A circuit as zany, dramatic and thrilling as the 20 races that have preceded it, and sure to throw a giant curveball into the closing stages of the title fight.

 

In many ways, is this the decider? You could argue that the re-designed Yas Marina in one week's time is a Mercedes safe haven, meaning the unknowns of F1's newest street track may prove to be the final hope for Red Bull.

 

But wait - come Sunday afternoon, we could be crowning a new champion!

It's Round 21 of the 2021 Formula One World Championship.

Saudi-Birds-Eye.png

 

The Circuit
Circuit.png

 

A 6.174 km, flat-out blast on the shores of the Red Sea. An expected average speed north of 250kph. Triple DRS. A desert dance between the barriers. A recipe for chaos!

 

Match Point?

MaxLewis.jpg

 

Verstappen and Red Bull enter the weekend as underdogs. Comfortably beaten in the last two events, an old (ailing?) PU, and a track layout that's assumed to work against them. Conversely, Verstappen's strength all season has been extracting every last tenth from his RB16, a trait that should pay extra dividends at such a unique track. Will the flappy DRS wing return to hamper Red Bull's medium downforce setup? And what about the freshly-laid tarmac, an extra layer to unlock in the puzzle of Pirelli tyres?

 

Hamilton and Mercedes are in a position in which they've so often thrived - the hunters. After 20 gruelling events, only now is the Mighty Mercedes Magic starting to take effect. The power sensitivity of the Jeddah track will be eaten up by the rocketship PU5 installed in Brazil, while the quick corners, changes of direction and night-time temperatures suit the revitalised W12. But nothing is certain in this crazy season, and there's plenty of pitfalls around each (blind) corner to throw them off the unstoppable rhythm that's been building.

 

The Midfield Fight
FerMcL.png

 

After establishing a 39.5 WCC lead after Qatar, the fight for third is likely concluded. But with two low-drag circuits to round off the season, McLaren can't give up hope just yet. After a paltry 4 point return from the last three events, a reset is needed if they want to repeat their 2020 comeback versus Racing Point to steal P3 at the line.

 

Ferrari shouldn't be too worried, however. Strong at street circuits all season, with a class-leading ERS that should shine thanks to Jeddah's high on-throttle time and lack of heavy braking zones. Can either gatecrash the title battle? Watch out.

 

AlpAlf.png

 

The battle for fifth, too, has likely concluded after Alonso's triumphant return to the podium last time out, but the 25pt gap isn't insurmountable for an Alpha Tauri team that often has the third-fastest car. Tsunoda's pace has improved since receiving the upgraded Honda PU in Mexico, but still isn't enough to back up team leader Gasly. The expected new surface low-deg should temper the front limitation that plagued their Qatar weekend.

 

The only inconsistency in Alpine's metronomic points-scoring consistency has been their flip-flopping from the top of the midfield to the bottom. Another strong weekend will put them out of sight.

 

Elsewhere ...

 

Aston Martin will look to build on only their third double points score of the year in Qatar. Vettel's underlying pace seems to have ticked up a notch recently, if only he could string together a clean weekend. A welcome return to form for Stroll as he secured his best finish of the year.

 

Alfa's forlorn chase of Williams seems to be another done deal, but there's still a chance of a crazy race to make up the 12pt deficit. Two to go for both Kimi and Gio's F1 careers, albeit under very different circumstances.

 

Haas will be encouraged by one of their strongest showings of the year, courtesy of Mick's gutsy drive in Qatar. Mazepin, however, will be discouraged after probably his worst, albeit with a heavy dose of mitigating circumstances. A tough weekend ahead for the rookie pair.

 

Last, but not least, a word for Williams. A sombre weekend ahead with the spirit of Frank racing with them. Apt in many ways we are in Saudi, the country that helped to fund Frank's dream many decades ago. Valiantly defending an over-achieved P8 WCC, not the most glamorous of endeavours, but a proud battle from a proud team with a bright future.

 

Weather, Tyres

(.gif)

Spoiler

Fri - Dry, 29c
Sat - Dry, 27c
Sun - Dry, 28c

Pirelli.jpg

 

The standard selection of compounds from Pirelli. The golden question is how the fresh tarmac will affect the grip levels. Front pressures increased slightly after the Qatar blow ups.

Tyre pressures: 23.5 psi (front) | 20.5 psi (rear)
 

Schedule

        GMT     CET
FP1     1330    1430
FP2     1700    1800
FP3     1400    1500
Q       1700    1800
R       1730    1830

Time zone conversion here.

The elusive Formula 2 and Porsche Sprint Challenge supporting. Full schedule.

--

Thoughts, championship predictions, safety car probabilities and flexible rear-wing watch all welcome below :cat:

 

RIP Frank :up:

 

v2_large_19952202e062603e468de0f0bb2d37e



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#2 davidlan

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Posted 01 December 2021 - 22:01

I noticed a complete absence of any grandstands in the opening shot

 

Dave



#3 GlenWatkins

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Posted 01 December 2021 - 22:28

Most Excellent OP!  :clap:   It's always special to watch a first time race at a new track!  I may even tune into see how F2 cars go around here.


Edited by GlenWatkins, 01 December 2021 - 22:31.


#4 Atreiu

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Posted 01 December 2021 - 22:29

I have no idea of what to expect but I get the feeling McLaren might go well.



#5 Heyli

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Posted 01 December 2021 - 22:34

Most Excellent OP!  :clap:   It's always special to watch a first time race at a new track!  I may even tune into see how F2 cars go around here.

When are the F2 races this weekend?



#6 w1Y

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Posted 01 December 2021 - 22:41

I don't think there I'd going to be as much overtaking as people think

#7 ARTGP

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Posted 01 December 2021 - 22:44

I don't think there I'd going to be as much overtaking as people think

 

Unless your car is in another league   :p


Edited by ARTGP, 01 December 2021 - 22:44.


#8 w1Y

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Posted 01 December 2021 - 22:45

Unless your car is in another league :p

looks narrow and surrounded by walls.

I don't see many overtakes, especially against people that will get their elbows out

#9 ARTGP

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 04:34

How would people feel if the provisional pole sitter after the first round of bankers in Q3, crashes and brings out a red flag that ends qualifying? Especially if that driver were to be either of MV or LH in the context of the championship?

 

Is F1 not willing to address such a matter? If you crash, you should go to the back of the session you ruined.  Just two weeks ago, we had Gasly stuff half the field, and then start from the front row.


Edited by ARTGP, 02 December 2021 - 04:37.


#10 teejay

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 05:47

How would people feel if the provisional pole sitter after the first round of bankers in Q3, crashes and brings out a red flag that ends qualifying? Especially if that driver were to be either of MV or LH in the context of the championship?

 

Is F1 not willing to address such a matter? If you crash, you should go to the back of the session you ruined.  Just two weeks ago, we had Gasly stuff half the field, and then start from the front row.

 

That was a massive stroke of luck. 

 

When you're malicious, you go to the back - ask one M. Schumacher. 



#11 ARTGP

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 06:17

That was a massive stroke of luck. 

 

When you're malicious, you go to the back - ask one M. Schumacher. 

 

I don't think it's going to be malicious. I think we could just get a Monaco '21 situation again. Provisional pole crashes on his second lap. A genuine error imo. 


Edited by ARTGP, 02 December 2021 - 06:17.


#12 Jovanotti

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 06:40

Can't see past a dominant Hamilton win with that engine. Hopefully some the SC throws a curveball und we get a surprise winner.

#13 Pete_f1

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 06:49

The race will be available to all Sky customers through their general entertainment channels (I'm guessing Sky Showcase)

#14 Peat

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 08:55

And don't forget, SkyQ customers can press the red button at any time to get a full catch-up of the events action so far!



#15 TheFish

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 08:58

I don't think it's going to be malicious. I think we could just get a Monaco '21 situation again. Provisional pole crashes on his second lap. A genuine error imo. 

And look what happened to the pole sitter in Monaco.

 

Too risky unless it's at low speed and then it looks dodgy as hell. New gearbox or new engine needed = disaster.



#16 FortiFord

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 09:06

I don't think it's going to be malicious. I think we could just get a Monaco '21 situation again. Provisional pole crashes on his second lap. A genuine error imo. 

 

and risk a broken gearbox like Leclerc? I think it's unlikely. 



#17 Ivanhoe

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 09:19

and risk a broken gearbox like Leclerc? I think it's unlikely. 

Just do it like Rosberg in Monaco 2014   ;)



#18 FortiFord

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 09:26

I think ARTGP does raise a good point. The risk of a yellow/red flag is high, therefore it makes more sense to be the first one over the line. I noticed Hamilton/Merc usually like to go first whereas Verstappen/RB like to be one of the last ones over the line. I wonder if RB will re-think this since it has come back to bite them several times this season. 



#19 Requiem84

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 09:27

I think ARTGP does raise a good point. The risk of a yellow/red flag is high, therefore it makes more sense to be the first one over the line. I noticed Hamilton/Merc usually like to go first whereas Verstappen/RB like to be one of the last ones over the line. I wonder if RB will re-think this since it has come back to bite them several times this season. 

 

There is often comments on the strategy / operations of Mercedes, but their Q3 strategy clearly has been much stronger than RB indeed.

 

Mexico and Qatar are two very strong examples of how RB exposed themselves to a potential risky situation in Q3. 



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#20 mmmcurry

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 09:27

And don't forget, SkyQ customers can press the red button at any time to get a full catch-up of the events action so far!

 

Powered by AWS?

 

Steve.



#21 Eyeshield

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 09:35

Genuinely excited for the race as I do not know what to expect. I think this race will throw up a few surprises, there's just so much that could happen with a new circuit of this nature. Looking forward to the weekend. :clap:



#22 FortiFord

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 09:36

There is often comments on the strategy / operations of Mercedes, but their Q3 strategy clearly has been much stronger than RB indeed.

 

Mexico and Qatar are two very strong examples of how RB exposed themselves to a potential risky situation in Q3. 

 

Correct. Also Baku, and to a lesser extent, Monaco. I remember than Marko mentioned that they usually set a banker for the first run in Q3 and then plan to go all out for the second run. For this track i think they will need to go all out on their first run. 



#23 FirstnameLastname

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 10:19

And don't forget, SkyQ customers can press the red button at any time to get a full catch-up of the events action so far!


I’ve forgotten, can you repeat that please.

#24 thegamer23

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 10:30

Zandvoort?

Tsk

Gedda_banking.jpg



#25 as65p

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 10:58

Damon Hill and Autosport apparently know already how it will end:

 

Hill: 2021 ending in Hamilton/Verstappen crash "sad for F1"

 

:eek:



#26 IrvTheSwerve

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 10:59

And look what happened to the pole sitter in Monaco.

 

Too risky unless it's at low speed and then it looks dodgy as hell. New gearbox or new engine needed = disaster.

 

Not if its the wingman/number 2 doing the crashing.  :cool:



#27 Risil

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 11:01

Damon Hill and Autosport apparently know already how it will end:

 

Hill: 2021 ending in Hamilton/Verstappen crash "sad for F1"

 

:eek:

 

Build up that drama! It's funny to think that it's been 24 years since a world championship has been decided by two rivals colliding on track.



#28 IrvTheSwerve

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 11:02

Damon Hill and Autosport apparently know already how it will end:

 

Hill: 2021 ending in Hamilton/Verstappen crash "sad for F1"

 

:eek:

 

I was debating whether to start a thread on here last week, I wholeheartedly believe that there will be a crash at Abu Dhabi between the two. Whoever is leading the championship will crowd the other off the track and the driver who is second in the championship will not give up the chance to take the lead (or keep the lead). I really, really think that this will happen...especially given what we have seen this year.

 

I didn't create the thread as I thought that the discussion would probably get very toxic.



#29 PayasYouRace

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 11:03

Build up that drama! It's funny to think that it's been 24 years since a world championship has been decided by two rivals colliding on track.


Now you’re making me feel old. Especially as Jerez 97 was the first race I attended live.

#30 Goron3

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 11:03

Zandvoort?

Tsk

Gedda_banking.jpg

Bloody hell. That looks amazing. They'll be approaching this corner at 300 KPH!

 

Really looking forward to this weekend. I get the feeling that the 'fastest car' might not win and that it's going to come down to who makes the right strategy call under a VSC / SC or even red flag.



#31 Risil

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 11:05

Now you’re making me feel old. Especially as Jerez 97 was the first race I attended live.


A good childhood memory to have, to be sure. :)

I watched it at home, I think it was the first time I heard my dad swear.

#32 Ivanhoe

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 11:09

Now you’re making me feel old. Especially as Jerez 97 was the first race I attended live.

Now you are making me feel really old as my first live GP was Zandvoort 1980. You can feel young again  :yawnface:



#33 alframsey

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 11:21

I was debating whether to start a thread on here last week, I wholeheartedly believe that there will be a crash at Abu Dhabi between the two. Whoever is leading the championship will crowd the other off the track and the driver who is second in the championship will not give up the chance to take the lead (or keep the lead). I really, really think that this will happen...especially given what we have seen this year.

 

I didn't create the thread as I thought that the discussion would probably get very toxic.

 agree it would get toxic very fast. I appreciate that is how you see it going down but, tbh, I don't see it that way. I honestly can't imagine a situation where this happens because both drivers are aware of what is being said by some, both are not dirty drivers imo. Anyway Lewis is gonna start on pole and get a mega launch away from the grid and drive off to his 8th WDC.

 

I am very excited about this race; the resumption of the WDC fight, a new and extremely fast track, the significance of this race. It is by far the most pivotal of the WDC race by far and I expect them to be very close, I certainly do not see Merc having this huge advantage that some seem to just take as a given. Plus, there will surely be some chaos?

 

EDIT: Also Marko has said that they aren't taking a engie penalty at SA and, if they do, it will be at Abu Dhabi. So it could well be that they aren't close to each other.

 

https://www.planetf1...-change-rumour/


Edited by alframsey, 02 December 2021 - 11:37.


#34 as65p

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 11:24

Build up that drama! It's funny to think that it's been 24 years since a world championship has been decided by two rivals colliding on track.

I find it especially, ahem, remarkable that Autosport omitted the "would be" in their headline. Or may be that's just so they can re-use it easier when it actually happens? :p



#35 JG

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 11:28

Yeeks! 24 years since Jerez..? Mad. 



#36 Risil

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 11:36

I find it especially, ahem, remarkable that Autosport omitted the "would be" in their headline. Or may be that's just so they can re-use it easier when it actually happens? :p

 

It did make me check the article to make sure that the championship hadn't already finished and I'd somehow missed it.



#37 Zoe

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 11:38

I thought we were counting since at least 1989, 1990 in any case (which for me is the day the sport has lost being "sporting")



#38 bananaSpanner

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 11:47

Bloody hell. That looks amazing. They'll be approaching this corner at 300 KPH!

Really looking forward to this weekend. I get the feeling that the 'fastest car' might not win and that it's going to come down to who makes the right strategy call under a VSC / SC or even red flag.


I think there's a high chance a SC could affect the race. I just hope it isn't significant enough to decide the championship, that would be a huge anticlimax.

#39 thegamer23

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 11:48



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#40 as65p

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 11:48

It did make me check the article to make sure that the championship hadn't already finished and I'd somehow missed it.

Ahh, so I guess the clickbait worked.  ;)



#41 pdac

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 12:00

The race will be available to all Sky customers through their general entertainment channels (I'm guessing Sky Showcase)

 

You built my hopes up there - only to be dashed by the Sky Planner. The qualifying is being shown live on Sky Showcase, but the race is not.



#42 as65p

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 12:10

I don't see all that braking / accelerating on those curbs working as well in real life.



#43 ToniF1

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 12:12

Are "curbs" not just painted in most of the places ?


Edited by ToniF1, 02 December 2021 - 12:13.


#44 TomNokoe

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 12:13

I was debating whether to start a thread on here last week, I wholeheartedly believe that there will be a crash at Abu Dhabi between the two. Whoever is leading the championship will crowd the other off the track and the driver who is second in the championship will not give up the chance to take the lead (or keep the lead). I really, really think that this will happen...especially given what we have seen this year.

I didn't create the thread as I thought that the discussion would probably get very toxic.


I strongly disagree and think it's a near impossibility.

This isn't directed at you, IrvTheSwerve, but I've seen this idea mentioned a lot in recent weeks, and I'm fed up of it!

#45 Risil

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 12:15

Maybe we do need a thread after all...  ;)



#46 as65p

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 12:18

Are "curbs" not just painted in most of the places ?

I have no idea, really. Not until FP1 tomorrow.  ;)

 

And doesn't even "only painted" mean different grip level?



#47 Bleu

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 12:37

I think there's a high chance a SC could affect the race. I just hope it isn't significant enough to decide the championship, that would be a huge anticlimax.

The worst scenario of safety car effect would be an accident which would close the pit lane in a situation where one of LH/MV has made a pit stop and one has not.



#48 statman

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 13:18

some pics from fabrega:

 

FFipNqQXEAgTlUK.jpg

FFi2qUmX0AAa5Bw.jpg

FFi2rFNWYAgIinA.jpg

FFii-XPWQAYpHj6.jpg

FFii_PIXsAIcS0M.jpg

FFig_UBXIAYGkXX.jpg

FFiki-aXEAEAVRO.jpg

FFimInxXEAc2Ae6.jpg



#49 smr

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 13:23

This track is nuts... like some Singapore slingshot on steroids.



#50 JimmyClark

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 13:23

Looks like some of the kerbs are raised then, just not the ones with a wall right behind them.