Pirelli Bringing Mid-Range Compounds To The 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Formula 1 2024: Bahrain Gp
Formula 1 2024: Bahrain Gp

Just a few days on from the curtain raiser in Bahrain, Formula 1 has decamped from the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea for Round 2, which runs from Thursday 7 to Saturday 9 March. While the distance, as the crow flies, from the Sakhir permanent track to the Jeddah Street Circuit is only around 1260 kilometres, the characteristics of the two tracks could not be more different. From a track with a very abrasive asphalt, where thermal degradation is particularly high and where stability under braking and for traction are key factors, one now moves to a track with quite a smooth surface and very high speeds (an average per lap of 250 km/h) second only to Monza in this regard.

At 6.174 kilometres in length, it is the second longest track on the calendar, particularly twisty with 27 corners, the most of any circuit and on Saturday the drivers will tackle it 50 times. The fact that many of the turns are medium to high speed means the tyres are subjected to high lateral forces. As in Bahrain, qualifying and the race take place in the evening, starting at 20.00 local time, with temperatures that are therefore lower than during the first free practice sessions on Thursday and Friday.

Based on the experience of the previous three editions of this race, Pirelli has chosen its three mid-range compounds: the C2 as Hard, the C3 as Medium and the C4 as Soft. Another difference when compared to Bahrain is race strategy. Last Saturday, the overwhelming majority of drivers made two stops, with a three-stopper the only other likely choice. However, in Jeddah, it is quite possible to envisage a one-stop race, with drivers swapping between Medium and Hard depending on their grid positions. As this is a street circuit, there are not many run-off areas and so the risk of accidents is quite high, as is therefore the chance of seeing the Safety Car on track or even having the race red-flagged. Overtaking is pretty tricky, with the best opportunity coming on the entry to turn 1.

As is usually the case at street circuits, track evolution will be very high and in qualifying, it will be crucial to choose exactly the right moment to go out on track to set a good lap time and also important will be getting the preparation lap just right. In past events here, we have even seen drivers doing two preparation laps to get the Softs to the right temperature and that can cause traffic related problems.

Apart from the usual support race in the shape of the second round of the Formula 2 championship, the Jeddah circuit also hosts the F1 Academy for the first of its seven rounds this season, all run alongside a Grand Prix event. For the second consecutive year, Pirelli is the Official Tyre Supplier for the all-female championship. The company thus strengthens its support for young drivers on their career ladders by broadening the scope of opportunities available to them so that, as has already been the case in the past, some drivers could make the way to the top of their specialist field having always and exclusively raced on Pirelli tyres.

All the F1 Academy cars are shod with 13 inch Pirelli P Zero DM, the same as last season and in all Formula 4 series where Pirelli is the supplier. The P Zero DM is designed to maintain a constant performance level even over longer distances so that racing drivers can develop their skills without having to deal with variables usually found in major championships relating to tyre wear. Each driver will have 14 dry tyres (three and a half sets) and 8 rain tyres (two sets) per race weekend.

There are a couple of interesting points relating to this year’s series. The fastest driver in qualifying will be presented with the Pirelli Pole Position Award, a miniature version of a P Zero tyre, just like the one presented to the Formula 1 pole sitter. The drivers celebrating on the podium will wear the classic Pirelli podium cap, but in a special for this series purple coloured limited edition.

Furthermore, as from this year, the F1 Academy is ranked as a genuine junior category, as the top five drivers in the championship will be awarded points towards an FIA Super License. At each round, a different local driver will get the chance to race through a Wild Card scheme.

Pirelli Bringing Mid-Range Compounds To The 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
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