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NEED TO KNOW: The most important facts, stats and trivia ahead of the 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Formula 1 moves on from Bahrain to Saudi Arabia for round two of the 2024 season at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit. Need to Know is your all-in-one guide for the week ahead with statistics, driving pointers, strategy tips and plenty more. You can also keep track of how fans have voted using our popular F1 Play predictor game.

The first two practice sessions will take place on Thursday, March 7, followed by final practice and qualifying on Friday, March 8 and the main event itself, the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, on Saturday, March 9.

READ MORE: 6 Winners and 5 Losers from Bahrain – Who started their season in style?

Vital statistics

  • First Grand Prix – 2021
  • Track Length – 6.174km
  • Lap record – 1m 30.734s, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 2021
  • Most pole positions – Sergio Perez (2)
  • Most wins – Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez (1)
  • Trivia – Jeddah has more corners than any other circuit on the F1 calendar (27)
  • Pole run to Turn 1 braking point – 168 metres
  • Overtakes completed in 2023 – 136
  • Safety Car probability – 100%
  • Virtual Safety Car probability – 67%
  • Pit stop time loss – 20.1 seconds (including 2.5s stationary)

FAN VIEW: So now we know, that RB20 is just as much of a rocket ship as the RB19 had been in 2023. And Max Verstappen remains peerless. More than 86% of F1 Play gamers believe the Dutchman will be the fastest man over a single lap in Jeddah this coming Friday. Charles Leclerc is next best with just over 3%.

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The driver’s verdict

Jolyon Palmer, former Renault F1 driver: This is one of the longer laps, and there are a lot of corners on paper, but a lot of them are high-speed kinks.

The corner that looks the most challenging here, I think, is Turn 10 – we’ve seen some drama when Mick Schumacher crashed in qualifying in 2022 – because you’re coming through at the end of a really fast sequence, through the end of the first sector, and carrying a lot of speed.

QUIZ: Saudi Arabia Special – Test your knowledge of the Jeddah street race

It’s hard to see in and out of corners because it’s a fast street circuit, and the kerbs are quite raised as well, so if you go a little bit wide you can break traction, lose the car and, as we saw, the walls are very close.

ONBOARD: Sergio Perez’s 2023 Pirelli Pole Position Award lap at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

It’s particularly punishing. I think the end of the first sector is the bit that’s the most heart-in-mouth at Jeddah. Also, Turn 22, you’re arcing through the right-hander and picking a line through the left – it’s very fast. A small misstep can have quite punishing consequences.

Verstappen made a mistake at the final corner in 2021 but, actually, it is one of the more routine ones. And, since Max made a mistake, the eyeline into it has changed as well, while a lot of the entries were changed for 2023 to improve visibility into corners.

WATCH: Jolyon Palmer gets behind the wheel to analyse a lap of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit

For overtaking, there’s no problem with three DRS zones. The final corner, or duking it out into Turn 1, are drivers’ best bets. Drivers will also have to keep an eye out for slower cars throughout the weekend as it’s easy to trip up on traffic.

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Jeddah provides an adrenaline-filled, high-speed challenge for the drivers

Saudi Arabian GP pole-sitters

2023 – Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 2022 – Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
2021 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

F1 EXPLAINS: How drivers and teams master the adrenaline-filled start to a Grand Prix

Saudi Arabian GP winners

2023 – Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 2022 – Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
2021 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

FAN VIEW: The numbers are even more astonishing in this category, with an eye-popping 96% of gamers picking Verstappen to top the podium this weekend. Of his rivals, only Red Bull team mate Sergio Perez can muster more than 2%, with another Max cruise confidently expected by the F1 Play nation.

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Perez claimed pole and the race victory in Saudi Arabia last year

Strategy and set-up keys

Bernie Collins, former Aston Martin F1 strategist: In Saudi Arabia, there’s high expectation that – due to the nature of the circuit and close barriers – the Safety Car will appear. You’re not necessarily planning your strategy totally around that, but you’ll be trying to take those opportunities and get the reduced pit loss – i.e. not stopping just before the Safety Car comes out.

You’ll be trying to extend your stints much more, although it’s a very difficult game then, because you don’t want someone to undercut you – as in stop a lap before you do – but equally you don’t want to miss that Safety Car opportunity.

SUNDAY MORNING DEBRIEF: Ferrari nearly matched Red Bull in qualifying in Bahrain – so where did their race pace go?

As a result, your strategy becomes this sort of cat-and-mouse between ‘should I stop now and try to undercut the person ahead of me?’ or the flipside, ‘is there a risk that the Safety Car is going to come soon and I can capitalise?’ It’s that sort of debate.

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Leading on from this, pit stops here tend to come in Safety Car situations, so you’ll end up with a very busy pit lane where every tenth of a second counts. Whereas in Bahrain the results tend to come down more to race pace at the end, the action in Jeddah can easily be settled by a poor stop because it’s difficult to overtake – so it’s all about track position.

Another thing you tend to see in Jeddah is much more laps from drivers in qualifying. Because of the difficulty of the track, the walls and the proximity, it’s much harder to get your theoretical best lap time together.

FIT FOR F1: How drivers balance their training and recovery

FAN VIEW: George Russell and Leclerc both missed out on the podium in Sakhir on Saturday, but they are well fancied on F1 Play to make amends this weekend. There is also good support for Lando Norris, and a few nibbles for Lewis Hamilton despite his P7 in Bahrain.

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The Safety Car has appeared in every Saudi Arabian Grand Prix held so far

Current form

Verstappen and Red Bull continued where they left off in 2023 with an impressive pole position and victory double at the Bahrain season opener, while Perez rose from fifth on the grid to second to give the team a one-two.

Ferrari emerged as Red Bull’s nearest challenger in both qualifying and race-trim, with Leclerc pushing Verstappen for pole – and setting the outright fastest time of the session in Q2 – and Sainz charging to the podium.

FACTS AND STATS: Red Bull tie Williams’ win tally in first-ever retirement-free season opener

But, as teams and drivers up and down the pit lane have been reiterating, Sakhir is a unique circuit, with unique tyre demands, and offers only one sample for the pecking order that could shake out when F1 moves on to some very different venues over the coming races.

In addition to Ferrari remaining in the mix, the likes of Mercedes, McLaren and Aston Martin will be hoping to join the fight at the front this time out, especially after the Silver Arrows’ promising start to the Bahrain weekend came undone by cooling problems in the race.

The ultra-fast Jeddah Corniche Circuit provides the next test to the field and give us some more answers about how the season ahead will shape up...

FAN VIEW: Aston Martin pair Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll are both fancied on F1 Play to make the points again after doubling up to score in the Bahrain opener. There is also a nice bit of support for Zhou Guanyu after the Kick Sauber star produced a terrific drive to finish P11 in Bahrain – narrowly missing out there.

Race Highlights: 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix

Iconic moment

F1’s first visit to the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in 2021 came during the closing stages of a fierce championship fight between Verstappen and Hamilton, who again found themselves dicing for victory after several run-ins earlier in the season.

Having at one point run off the track to defend his race lead, Verstappen was told to back down and concede the position to Hamilton, only for the Mercedes to run into the back of the Red Bull when the Dutchman slowed – adding yet another layer to an already hugely dramatic title battle.

HINCH’S HEROES: Who makes James Hinchcliffe’s list after the season opener in Bahrain?

Hamilton brushed off some front wing damage, gathered himself and went on the attack once more to take the victory away from Verstappen, who was hit with a 10-second penalty after the race for the incident.

Watch the drama as it unfolded in the video below.

2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: Hamilton crashes into slow-moving Verstappen following Turn 1 collision

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