Jeddah Corniche Circuit: The Ultimate Track Guide

Formula 1 raced in Saudi Arabia for the first time in 2021 with a night race at Jeddah Corniche Circuit. Here’s everything you need to know about one of the latest addition to the F1 calendar.


FIRST F1 RACE 2021
TRACK LENGTH 3.836 miles
NUMBER OF LAPS 50
NUMBER OF TURNS 27
MOST POLES Lewis Hamilton, Sergio Perez (1)
MOST WINS Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen (1)

Rumours of a Formula 1 race in Saudi Arabia have been ongoing for a number of years. In 2019, it was announced that a permanent circuit was to be built in Qiddiya, outside of capital city Riyadh. The plans were confirmed in January 2020.

Track designer Alex Wurz appeared with a number of past and present Formula 1 drivers – including World Champion Damon Hill, David Coulthard, Nico Hulkenberg and Romain Grosjean – in an event on the proposed site of the circuit. It was confirmed at the event that the circuit was designed to FIA Grade 1 standards, meaning that Formula 1 could theoretically race there – though not until 2023 at the earliest. Instead, for the time being at least, the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will take place on the streets of Jeddah, the country’s second-largest city.

Saudi Arabia has attracted other major motorsport events in recent years. The Race of Champions, held at the King Fahd International Stadium in February 2018, was the first ever international motorsport event to take place in the country. Meanwhile, Formula E has raced in Diriyah since 2018 and the Dakar Rally has been held in the country in recent years.

JEDDAH CORNICHE CIRCUIT

The track layout for the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was unveiled on 18th March 2021. The Jeddah Corniche Circuit is designed by Hermann Tilke, and is situated on the Jeddah Corniche. Jeddah Corniche Circuit is the fastest street circuit in Formula 1, with an average speed of over 250km/h. Race organisers say that the circuit – which has 27 turns set out over 6.175km – prioritises overtaking, rather than scenic views. The race takes place at night.

Jeddah Corniche - the area of Jeddah which gives its name to Jeddah Corniche Circuit

Formula 1’s presence in Saudi Arabia has been criticised due to the country’s human rights record. Amid accusations of “sports-washing” by Amnesty International UK, F1 defended their new race with a spokesperson saying: “For decades, F1 has worked hard to be a positive force everywhere it races, including economic, social, and cultural benefits.”

It is not known how long F1’s contract to race in Saudi Arabia is for, but a spokesperson commented that the sport expects to race in the country for “a decade, if not longer” in February 2021 – though the event may move away from Jeddah Corniche Circuit in the future.


LEARN MORE ABOUT JEDDAH CORNICHE CIRCUIT


2022 SAUDI ARABIAN GRAND PRIX RECAP

Max Verstappen claimed his first win of the 2022 season at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, on a race weekend which was overshadowed by a nearby missile strike.

F1 returned to Jeddah Corniche Circuit just over 100 days after the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Friday’s opening practice sessions were overshadowed by a missile strike on a nearby oil depot during Free Practice 1. The second practice session was delayed as a result and the drivers and other F1 representatives met on Friday night to discuss the continuation of the race weekend. After four and a half hours, at almost 3am, the drivers agreed to continue with the remainder of the weekend after being reassured over safety measures. 

Plenty of drivers missed apexes and cut corners through the practice sessions but it wasn’t until qualifying that drivers pushed to the limits. Nicholas Latifi was first to fall victim to Jeddah Corniche Circuit’s close walls, crashing out in Q1. Mercedes’ nightmare start to the season continued with Lewis Hamilton eliminated in the first stage of qualifying. 

Mick Schumacher then suffered a heavy crash in Q2. He was sent to hospital as a precaution and did not take part in the race. Qualifying resumed after a lengthy delay and Sergio Perez took his first pole position in Formula 1.  

On Sunday, Yuki Tsunoda failed to start the race following an engine issue on his way to the grid. That left just 18 starters. Perez maintained his lead at the start of the race. The opening laps passed largely without incident, though the two Alpines came close to making contact on the pit straight. The Safety Car was called out on Lap 16 following a crash for Nicholas Latifi. 

Perez had just pitted when the Safety Car was called. The other frontrunners pitted under Safety Car conditions, meaning Charles Leclerc was able to inherit the lead while the Mexican fell to fourth place. 

A number of cars broke down in a short period of time: Daniel Ricciardo, Fernando Alonso and Valtteri Bottas all came to a halt. After a short VSC period, an enticing duel followed between Leclerc and Max Verstappen, each trying to outwit one another, tactically slowing down before the DRS detection point. Verstappen ultimately emerged victorious, taking his first win of 2022. Carlos Sainz completed the podium positions.

2021 SAUDI ARABIAN GRAND PRIX RECAP

Tensions ran high at the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. As the red flags were called out three times, championship contenders Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton made contact on track.

F1 visited Saudi Arabia for the first time in 2021 on the all-new Jeddah Corniche Circuit – the fastest street track the sport has ever visited. Teams ran tributes to the late Frank Williams on their cars for the race weekend, who had passed away one week earlier. The perils of the new track became clear in Free Practice 2, as Charles Leclerc wrecked his Ferrari with a heavy crash.

On Saturday, Valtteri Bottas encountered misfiring issues in Q1 and made contact with Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo in Q2, but was still able to reach Q3. Max Verstappen was on a blisteringly fast lap which looked set to secure him pole position in the closing moments of qualifying. However, the Dutchman made a mistake at the final corner and crashed into the wall.

Lewis Hamilton started from pole position and led the opening lap ahead of his team-mate. After a quiet opening ten laps at Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Mick Schumacher made heavy contact with the barriers on Lap 10, reminiscent of Leclerc’s Friday crash. The Mercedes drivers pitted under the Safety Car, while Verstappen opted to stay out. It looked to be a strategic mistake from Red Bull – that was until the Red Flag was called, giving Verstappen the upper hand.

At the restart, Verstappen and Hamilton were side-by-side at Turn 1. Hamilton took the lead but Verstappen re-passed, albeit off the circuit. Esteban Ocon overtook Hamilton for second place before an incident behind the leaders brought out the Red Flag once more. Sergio Perez was tagged and hit the wall, with George Russell and Nikita Mazepin eliminated from the race in the resulting melee.

Controversy reigned in the stoppage, as Michael Masi presented Red Bull with the opportunity to decide the grid order at the restart. Ocon subsequently started from pole position, with Hamilton alongside him on the front row. Verstappen passed both of them on the inside at Turn 1. As the race passed its halfway point, Hamilton was back on Verstappen’s tail and attempted to overtake once again at Turn 1. But the Mercedes driver was run wide, while Verstappen also missed the corner.

Verstappen was instructed to give the position back to his title rival. In doing so, Hamilton ended up hitting the rear of the Red Bull. Verstappen then let Hamilton by once more a few laps later, before immediately re-passing him. Almost straight after this, Verstappen collected a 5-second time penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage. Hamilton ultimately passed Verstappen on track and went on to claim victory.

Bottas was charging in the closing stages and passed Ocon on the line for the final podium position. Hamilton’s win tied him and Verstappen on points heading into the final round of the season.


JEDDAH CORNICHE CIRCUIT WINNERS AND POLESITTERS

YearPolesitterTeam on PoleWinnerWinning Team
2021Lewis HamiltonMercedesLewis HamiltonMercedes
2022Sergio PerezRed BullMax VerstappenRed Bull
Scroll to Top