July 2, 2022


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What To Watch For within the Saudi Arabian GP: Verstappen’s gearbox, Leclerc shaking issues up and the Security Automotive

From reliability issues for the championship chief to a primary lap that may very well be race-defining, and from a excessive probability of Security Vehicles to the title permutations for Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, we pick a number of the key areas to regulate on the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

1. Verstappen’s gearbox

Okay, this is likely to be one thing you must be careful for earlier than the race as a lot as throughout it, however Max Verstappen’s crash on the finish of Q3 was dramatic sufficient by itself earlier than the potential knock-on results.

Verstappen appeared set for pole earlier than hitting the wall on the exit of the ultimate nook, limiting him to 3rd place behind the 2 Mercedes vehicles. However the larger concern for Crimson Bull is that Verstappen’s influence – with the right-rear nook – might have achieved some harm to his gearbox.

It was a brand new gearbox for this occasion and gearboxes must do six consecutive races, so if there are any doubts, a change would demote him 5 positions on the grid. Which means Crimson Bull are going to essentially need to keep away from doing so, even when it’s a little bit of of venture from a reliability perspective, so if there isn’t any change earlier than the race it’s price conserving a watch out for any issues throughout it

2. An important opening lap

It’s robust to make sure predictions about how a race is prone to play out at the very best of occasions, not to mention when it’s going down on a circuit that’s model new to the calendar, however there have been some indicators of what we are able to anticipate already this weekend.

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The first Components 2 race confirmed that overtaking is feasible into Flip 1 and the ultimate nook utilizing DRS, however monitor place remains to be extraordinarily vital because of the high-speed nature of the circuit. The driving force who led into Flip 1 – Marcus Armstrong – went on to win the opening race regardless of a number of Security Automotive intervals, and within the second race it was a lock-up for chief Jehan Daruvala that ultimately opened up the prospect for an overtake from Oscar Piastri in a while.

Quite a few issues can shake up the race however and not using a clear pace benefit it’s going to be robust for vehicles to move one another, so getting your elbows out on the opening lap goes to be notably vital. Nevertheless it’s a tricky steadiness for drivers to seek out as a result of push too exhausting and you might compromise your complete race with a mistake or contact.

The primary go to to Baku springs to thoughts as a chief instance, the place the entire area performed it barely secure anticipating drama and alternatives that by no means got here, as a result of they had been all leaving that additional little bit of margin for error. So we might see just a few extra dangers taken early on in Jeddah.

Hamilton has Verstappen beginning behind him off the road

3. Leclerc because the joker within the pack

Whereas Mercedes will probably be hoping for Valtteri Bottas to carry Max Verstappen at bay, for Sergio Perez to hitch the celebration he must clear Charles Leclerc first. Leclerc wished to repay Ferrari for the restore job they needed to do on his automobile in a single day after his FP2 crash, and he did that in a giant method with fourth on the grid.

And when requested whether or not he’s going to get within the combine with the title contenders or keep out of their battle, Leclerc stated he has no drawback combating with the likes of Verstappen and Hamilton as he has his personal battle with Norris for fifth place to consider.


In actuality, Leclerc’s race is prone to be with AlphaTauri pair behind him primarily based on the tempo proven up to now, and with Norris in relation to the Ferrari vs McLaren battle for third within the constructors’ championship. However with each Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda wanting notably fast this weekend, the Ferrari driver can provide himself a little bit of a buffer by entering into the practice with the highest 4 relatively than slipping behind Perez.

Leclerc begins fourth, Gasly fifth, and Norris sixth on Sunday

4. Title permutations

In case you missed it, that is the primary race weekend the place Max Verstappen can win the drivers’ championship, a possibility he’s by no means had earlier than in his Components 1 profession. In actual fact, Verstappen’s rise to F1 was so fast he’s really by no means gained a single-seater title, however that didn’t seem like weighing closely on his shoulders as he has completed within the prime two in every of the previous six races.

Maybe his closing nook crash in qualifying may very well be seen as an indication of stress however Verstappen was on a particular lap and nonetheless begins from third place, so he’s within the combine on the entrance behind Hamilton on pole.

To be champion, Verstappen must hold his run of top-two finishes going, as a result of third place is not going to be sufficient to safe the title no matter what occurs with Hamilton. But when the Crimson Bull driver wins the race and units the quickest lap, Hamilton might want to end within the prime 5 to maintain the title struggle alive heading to Abu Dhabi.

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If Verstappen wins with out the quickest lap then Hamilton will want a prime six end, whereas second and the quickest lap for Verstappen will win him the title if Hamilton is tenth or decrease. The one different method Verstappen turns into champion is that if he finishes second and Hamilton fails to attain.

Or to place it one other method: if Hamilton finishes within the prime 5, we’re going to a championship decider on the closing race no matter occurs.

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5. Security Automotive

There’s no escaping the truth that the Jeddah Corniche Circuit goes to be an enormous check for the entire area, due to the focus ranges required all through the race. The drivers had been large followers of the high-speed avenue circuit from their first outing on Friday, and it was a spectacular sight all through qualifying as they pushed to the bounds on low gas.

However one of many largest challenges is the precision that’s required to seek out the lap time when there may be so little room for error. The shut partitions mixed with high-speed corners imply only a small mistake can result in contact with the barrier, and that’s all earlier than you issue one other automobile into the equation.

To date, the drivers have been targeted on simply themselves, however when the lights exit on Sunday they’ve to string the needle whereas battling different vehicles, and that’s solely going to extend the probability of incidents. As stricken vehicles can take a short while to clear on such a novel circuit, we might effectively see a variety of Security Automotive interruptions that can have the potential to show the race on its head straight away.

The Security Automotive led a lot of Saturday night time’s F2 race and may effectively make an look on Sunday…