Saudi Arabia hosts another F1 weekend for the second time in history. The Jeddah Corniche Circuit is an interesting circuit wrapped in a beautiful setting by the Red Sea. This time around, the circuit hosts the second race of the 2022 season. Its high-speed straights and fast corners promise another exciting weekend for motorsport fans and bettors. Nitrobetting goes over the top five storylines of the upcoming 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
The Top 5 Storylines Heading To The 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
This is @F1— Saudi Arabian GP (@SaudiArabianGP) March 23, 2022
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Uncovering the grid
Pre-season testing and the opening race all took place in one race track–the recorded raw pace, top speed, and traction figures are only specific to the Bahrain International Circuit. That said, there are more elements to uncover in the upcoming race. The potential of the all-new Formula 1 cars is yet to be unlocked as it sees more track formants.
This raises the question of whether Ferrari’s imposing one-two finish with Charles Leclerc (+137) and Carlos Sainz (+700) indicates its trend for the rest of the season. Will the F1-75 set the bar high in the coming months or will Bahrain prove to be one of the team’s strongest venues. Similarly, Mercedes and Red Bull might find better results on smoother circuits.
Jeddah will tell us more about each car. Of course, this isn’t limited to Ferrari, Red Bull, and Mercedes. Haas significantly improved and are now expected to fight mid-table teams, while McLaren wrote down underwhelming results. Alfa Romeo, Alpine, and AlphaTauri also look interesting after the latest race results. At the end of the day, we look forward to the progress of each team as the 2022 season moves forward.
Red Bull RB18 reliability
Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto believes that Max Verstappen (+150) and Red Bull remain favorites to get the driver’s championship despite a one-two finish in the opening race. The aforementioned teams delivered an action-packed race in Bahrain. However, questions surround the defending champion whether or not the newly-developed car and powertrain overcome its reliability issues.
RBR had a dependable car during the 2021 season. There were only a handful of times when a Red Bull failed to see the checkered flag, and five of the six incidents were caused by either crashes or incidents. But, it’s a different story for the team as they record a double-DNF at the start of the calendar. It’s a huge hit to the driver and the team morale.
The team returns to the drawing board as engineers focus on reliability for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. They have enough speed to stay at the top of the pack, but can the RB18 finish the race without getting troubled by technical issues?
Can Mercedes find more pace?
Lewis Hamilton (+1000) sneaked a podium finish in the first race of the season, crossing the line behind the two Ferrari’s. George Russell (+3300) managed a P4 finish to give Mercedes 27 points in the Constructors Standings. Despite that, the team finds itself in unfamiliar territory at its most uncompetitive position since the introduction of the hybrid era. Hamilton was not lying when he said that the W13 lacked pace in the testing period.
Sunday’s race proved that the W13 had reliability in the bag. This means solid foundations for the team if they want to develop the car in other areas. Team principal Toto Wolff mentioned that there’s more aero development to come. The team aims to reduce drag from the Silver Arrows to gain better top-speed numbers.
There’s plenty of time for Mercedes to catch up. In 2021, Mercedes started the year behind Red Bull but were quick to recover by mid-season. With that, Mercedes’ ability to adjust to conditions and develop during the season shouldn’t be neglected.
Sebastian Vettel’s status
Sebastian Vettel (+100000) remains questionable for the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix. This puts fellow German driver Nico Hulkenberg on standby for Sunday’s race. Vettel missed the opening race of the 2022 season after testing positive for COVID-19 the night before race weekend. Hulkenberg took the seat at short notice, only getting a feel and driving the car for the first time in FP1. This alone was impressive enough after two years of absence from the sport. But the 34-year-old outdid himself and out-qualified teammate Lance Stroll.
If Vettel returns in time for the weekend then Aston Martin will hope for a better finish out of the cars. The four-time world champion familiarized himself with the car during testing, but Hulkenberg will stay close to ensure his availability should Vettel need more time to recover.
The Jeddah Corniche Circuit challenge
The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is relatively new to the grid. But, what the track offers is an ultra-fast race that will showcase more elements of the brand new cars this season. Hamilton holds the track record at 1:30.734 and the rest of the pack are eager to set a better lap time this time around.
The Jeddah Corniche Circuit has more turns than any track in the calendar at 27. More than that, all turns are crammed into a six-kilometer distance. It is second to Monza in terms of average speed. Moreover, it is the fastest of all six street circuits in F1.
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