F1 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Preview: Will Jeddah decide the championship?

A new circuit is always a voyage into the unknown. This weekend’s Saudi Arabian GP is no exception to the rule, as Formula 1 heads to the brand-new Jeddah Street Circuit. With both the driver’s and constructor’s championship on a knife-edge, this tricky and tight track could produce a fascinating contest.

Let’s see what we should expect for this night race in the desert!

Track Guide

Credit: F1

Jeddah is the fastest street circuit on the Formula 1 calendar. The walls are incredibly close throughout the lap, this is like Monaco at high-speed. Unfortunately, for the racing side of things, this track will also be very likely difficult to overtake on. However, there could be opportunities for mistakes from what should be a dusty surface.

There are a mammoth 27 corners, the most on the calendar. It’s also been confirmed that there will be three DRS zones, but how effective these will be remains to be seen.

Hamilton continues momentum in Qatar

Hamilton’s win in Brazil was one of the best of his career

Sir Lewis Hamilton won his second race in a row with a dominant display in Qatar two weeks ago. Hamilton started on pole and was untroubled from behind after Max Verstappen started further down thanks to a grid penalty. Verstappen came home second and took the fastest lap to keep the championship gap at eight points.

Fernando Alonso claimed his first podium in F1 since 2014 and his first for Alpine with a hard-fought third place. Sergio Perez recovered from starting outside the top ten to finish fourth, while Esteban Ocon made it an excellent day for Alpine with fifth.

Lance Stroll scored Aston Martin’s best finish in months, as he finished sixth. Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc scored solid points again for Ferrari with seventh and eight, respectively. Lando Norris rescued two points for McLaren with ninth place, despite a puncture. Sebastian Vettel scored the final point with tenth place.

Will Verstappen win the title this weekend?

Mathematically, Max Verstappen can become the first Dutch Formula 1 champion this weekend. He’d also become the first non-Mercedes driver to win the driver’s champion since Vettel in 2013. Is this realistic, though? Given both Max’s and Lewis’ form in 2021, it’s unlikely.

The pair have finished 1-2 more often than not, and you’d be brave to bet against them both being on the podium in Saudi Arabia. Team tactics could play a role though, as passing will be very difficult and both Perez and Valtteri Bottas will be looking to make their cars as wide as possible.

Barring any mechanical retirements, the title battle will likely go to the final race in Abu Dhabi next weekend. This race in Jeddah though, will be a tight and tense affair, especially if 44 and 33 are at the front of the pack.

Session Times

Practice 1, Dec 3rd: 13:30 – 14:30 (8:30 – 9:30 EST)

Practice 2, Dec 3rd: 17:00 – 18:00 (12:00 – 13:00 EST)

Practice 3, Dec 4th: 14:00 – 15:00 (9:00 – 10:00 EST)

Qualifying, Dec 4th: 17:00 – 18:00 (12:00 – 13:00 EST)

Race, Dec 5th: 17:30 (12:30 EST)

All times are UK time (GMT), unless stated

Grid Talk Podcast

Want more content to preview your Saudi GP weekend? The Grid Talk crew have you covered with their latest podcast, the Saudi Arabian GP Preview. George Howson hosted Owain Medford, Tom Downey and Tom Horrox in episode 156 of the show. Both audio and video versions of the podcast are available below:

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