Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Saturday Steve Etherington
2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Saturday (image courtesy Mercedes-AMG Petronas)

2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

25-27 March, 2022

Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Saudi Arabia

Number of Laps: 50

Circuit Length: 6.174km

Race Distance: 308.45 km

Lap Record: 1:30.734 Lewis Hamilton (2021)

Fact File: Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

  • The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix track is located on the Corniche, a waterfront area in Jeddah next to the Red Sea. The waterfront location presents similar challenges to Abu Dhabi with sand blowing onto the track and changes in wind direction from day to night.
  • The Jeddah Corniche Circuit has the most corners of any track on the F1 calendar with 27: 16 left-handers and 11 right-handers. This does make it more challenging for the team and drivers to get up to speed during the practice sessions.
  • The Saudi Arabian GP venue is the second-longest track in F1 at 6.174 km. Spa-Francorchamps is the only track that is longer (7.004 km). This means energy management is tricky and puts more focus on the MGU-H and hybrid system performance.
  • As we saw in 2021, Jeddah has a higher risk of Safety Cars compared to other tracks because of its street track nature, with incidents taking longer to clear and fast corners causing bigger incidents, while a longer track means there is more potential for mistakes. There have been some changes made for 2022, to increase run-off areas and improve safety.
  • Ahead of the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Jeddah was billed as the ‘fastest street circuit in the world’ and that proved to be the case, with average speeds of around 250 km/h – higher than Baku, which isn’t far off, but Jeddah is helped by having some corners that are taken flat-out or within DRS zones.
  • Drivers reach over 310 km/h three times on the long straights during Qualifying in Jeddah. With three DRS zones, too, it has one of the highest percentages of lap distance spent at full throttle, with 80%.
  • Turn 13 has a 12% gradient, with banked corners opening up more lines and helping to build momentum onto the next sweeping, fast section.
  • Turn 2 is the circuit’s slowest corner, taken at around 85 km/h, while the quickest are the 315 km/h Turns 21 and 26 – both located on straights that include DRS zones.
  • By the time F1 cars hit the track in Saudi Arabia on Friday, it’ll have been just 111 days (three months and 21 days) since they were last racing in Jeddah.
  • The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is a night race, so alongside lighting the buildings and bridges, there are expected to be over 600 light posts illuminating the track.
  • Last year’s race in Saudi started at half past the hour, but this has now fallen back in line with other races, starting on the hour this year.
  • With 2021 being the first race at the Jeddah track, the surface of the circuit was very sandy and ‘green’ – meaning the track evolution was high and grip levels were increasing with every session. We expect this to be very similar this year.

What date is the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix?

The 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will run from 25-27 March, 2022, at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Saudi Arabia.

25 March – Free Practice 1 & 2
26 March – Free Practice 3 & Qualifying
27 March – Race

How can I watch the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix?

If you’re in the United Kingdom, Sky Sports has the exclusive live broadcasting rights to F1, with the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix race shown live on Sky Sports F1.

If you’re in the USA, ESPN has live broadcasting rights to F1, and will show the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix live.

For other countries, check out the list of F1 Broadcasters.

How can I bet on the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix?

If you’re in the US or Canada, you can bet on the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix with BetUS.

Use our code ‘Join125‘ for a 125% sign-up bonus!

Where can I get tickets to the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix?

Tickets for the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix are available from gpticketshop and are a trusted ticket seller who we use and recommend.

Was Formula 1 criticised for holding the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix?

Various human rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch criticised Formula One for holding a race in Saudi Arabia. Their argument was it was Saudi Arabia’s “cynical strategy to distract from Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses.” According to human rights watch, Saudi Arabia is using sports events to distract people from serious human rights violations that are committed. Formula One defended itself saying that “(Formula One) has been a positive force wherever it races.” Saudi Arabia has denied that the Grand Prix was used for sports washing.
 
Many human rights organisations called on Lewis Hamilton to boycott the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. They cited Saudi Arabia’s role in the Yemen War, the detention of women’s rights activists and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Saudi Arabia countered by saying that hosting the race was a step in the process of opening the country to the outside world. Formula One also reiterated that they believed in the Saudi Arabian government’s ability to ensure the security of the event.

Is Jeddah really a street circuit?

The Jeddah Corniche Circuit is the longest street circuit ever in Formula 1 history. With a lap measuring 6.175 kilometres long, it beats the Baku Street Circuit by 100 meters. It was also the second-longest track after the Spa Francorchamps (7.004km) in the Ardennes on the 2021 Formula 1 calendar. The circuit was designed by Tilke Gmbh along with the Formula 1 sports division. During the simulations, the track was described as the fastest street track with an average speed of 250kph likely to be breached.
 
The Jeddah Corniche Circuit is built on a waterfront corniche in Jeddah overlooking the Red Sea. The 27 turn track could see speeds exceeding 322kph as the cars turn into the final corner. The Saudi Arabia Motorsport Federation President said that they are hosting the race to bring excitement. Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al Faisal said “We don’t want it to be one of those boring races where there is no overtaking.” True to his word, the top speed in the 2021 Grand Prix weekend was 330kph and the race was exciting enough.

The Inaugural 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Before the start of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Max Verstappen was the leader in the World Drivers’ Championship with 351.5 points. This was the penultimate race and Lewis Hamilton, with 343.5 points, had to win the race to stay in contention for the title. The reigning Champion’s constructor, Mercedes led Red Bull Racing by 5 points. McLaren was in fourth place, trailing Ferrari by 39.5 points. Many places were up for grabs and Formula 1 fans couldn’t wait for the race to start.

Sergio Perez topped the first session of qualifying after successful practice sessions. Lewis Hamilton got pole position in the second qualifying session with a time of 1:27:712. Lewis also gained a tyre advantage recording the fastest time with 10 lap old medium tyres. Max Verstappen, on the other hand, had recorded his fastest time on 4 lap old medium tyres. Both Championship contenders would go into the race on medium tyres as the Formula 1 race regulations stipulate. All the contestants in Q2 qualified on medium tyres except Lando Norris. Norris had used soft tyres.

The pole didn’t come easy for Hamilton. Hamilton had a slide in his first attempt in Q3 and was forced to abort it. In the next lap, Hamilton recorded his fastest lap. At the end of the session, Max Verstappen attempted his flying lap. He almost clipped the wall at the exit of Turn 2. Verstappen was making good time when he lost control of the car coming into the final corner. He went wide and applied the throttle, locking his front left tyre. The rear hit the wall and his suspension broke. This gave Lewis Hamilton the pole. Verstappen was in third place behind Valtteri Botas of Mercedes.

The Race

The race was scheduled at 20:30 local time and would last over 50 laps. It did start in time but would be interrupted with several incidents. It was on lap 10 that mick Schumacher lost control of his car and smashed into the barriers. A safety car was deployed and both the Mercedes cars go to the pits. This set them back to the second and third places. The race was then black flagged, giving Verstappen a chance to change his tyres while leading the race. The race was then restarted.

After a standing restart, Verstappen attempted to pass Hamilton just before a crash. The crash involved Sergio Perez, Charles Leclerc, Nikita Mazepin and George Russell. The race was again black-flagged. The race director, Massi, first offered to re-order the cars. He later differed his decision and placed leaving Oncon, Hamilton and Verstappen in that order to lead the race. The decision was a result of Verstappen overtaking Hamilton after the first standing restart. Valtteri Bottas overtook Oncon on the last lap to take third place.

Red Bull team principal was disgruntled and compared Massi’s actions to “like being at the local market”. The Formula One chief Ross Brawn thought that Massi dealt with the situation pragmatically. Massi deferred with the two, stating that he knew that the stewards were authorised to make the final opinion. Massi said that he only gave them his perspective of the situation. The race ended with Hamilton winning and Verstappen placed second. Lewis Hamilton, with the 26 points he gained in the race would tie with Verstappen going into the final round.

Conclusion

The Saudi Arabian course at Jeddah is indeed a fast track with plenty of overtaking opportunities. The inaugural Grand Prix was full of excitement. But there are still concerns about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record. Saudi Arabia has promised that Formula One racing is a start to the opening of Saudi Arabia to the world. What course the Saudi government takes remains to be seen.