The third edition of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix awaits Formula 1 this weekend, and on the evidence of Bahrain, Red Bull will be the team to beat.
Max Verstappen cruised to victory at Sakhir last time out, but with tyre wear expected to be lower around Jeddah – a street circuit with higher average speeds than Silverstone – he is predicting other teams, particularly Ferrari, to be more in the hunt this weekend.
After criticism surrounding the safety, or lack thereof, at the tight, twisting, fast Jeddah Corniche Circuit, extra measures are being put in place this time around to improve visibility and safety for the drivers as they return to the track this year.
But when the action gets underway, all eyes will be on the likes of Ferrari, Aston Martin and Mercedes to see who will be able to take that fight to Red Bull and Verstappen this weekend, under the lights around one of the quickest circuits on the calendar.
When is the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix?
Friday 17 March
Free practice 1: 1630-1730 local [1330-1430 UK]
Free practice 2: 2000-2100 local [1700-1800 UK]
Saturday 18 March
Free practice 3: 1630-1730 local [1330-1430 UK]
Qualifying: 2000 local [1700 UK]
Sunday 19 March
Race: 2000 local [1700 UK]
Where does the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix take place?
The Jeddah Corniche Circuit was built to become dubbed the ‘World’s Fastest Street Circuit’, and at 6.174km is one of the longest layouts on the calendar, with its 27 corners also being the highest turn count of the season, even though several of them can be taken easily flat out or are slight kinks.
Turn 1 – After the relatively short main straight arrives the first turn, a 90-degree left.
Turn 2 – Dull the throttle again and into a tight right bend, but quickly on the power as the track opens up again.
Turn 3 – A slight left kink, full throttle all the way.
Turn 4 – After a short straight give it a dab of brakes to take this sharp left kink. With the barrier very close to the kerb, a misjudgement could mean session over.
Turn 5 – The track then immediately heads into a right bend, requiring the driver to switch across the track and hug the inside wall.
Turn 6 – The first of two left apexes.
Turn 7/8 – Turn 7 is a copy of Turn 6 with a left kink, as the track then sways back to the right for Turn 8.
Turn 9 – Another quick bend, but this one requires a slightly heavier application of the brakes.
Turn 10 – Power out through the following left bend of Turn 10.
Turn 11/12 – Among the slightest of right-to-left bends that you will see on the calendar. Easily flat out.
Turn 13 – On the power down the short straight and then into this very challenging left hairpin. Carry as much as speed as possible while hugging the inside kerb. Tyre health is crucial.
Turn 14 – An open bend to the right, take it at full throttle.
Turn 15 – Still full throttle into this left bend, but hit the brakes halfway through.
Turn 16 – That is in order to negotiate the right of Turn 16, but quickly back on the power.
Turn 17 – Floor the loud pedal through the left of Turn 17.
Turn 18 – A very slight right kink, full throttle.
Turn 19 – An even slighter adjustment of the steering wheel to the right, effectively a straight.
Turn 20 – Another full-throttle left.
Turn 21 – And a right with maximum power, the engines are working very hard by this stage.
Turn 22 – Now they get a little rest, down a few gears to take this left turn. Again the inside wall is perilously close to the kerb.
Turn 23/24 – A double-right bend, both sections taken at full power.
Turn 25 – A long and open left bend, still no need to step off the gas.
Turn 26 – Again pretty much like a straight, the most minor left turn of the steering wheel.
Turn 27 – And that leads into a heavy braking zone for this left hairpin, the final corner before drivers join the main straight. Get as tight as you dare to the inside wall.
Where can I watch the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix?
Formula 1 is available to watch on different TV broadcasters depending on which country you reside, with the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix available to watch live on the following channels in the following countries in 2023:
Australia: Fox Sports
Austria: Sky Sport F1, ORF, Servus TV [live races split between them]
Brazil: TV Bandeirantes, BandSports
Canada: RDS, TSN
China: Great Sport (RTS), CCTV, Guangdong Sports [broadcast in Guangdong only]
France: Canal+, C8
Germany: Sky Sport F1
Italy: Sky Sport F1 [delayed coverage on TV8]
Japan: Fuji TV Next
Netherlands: Viaplay Xtra [free-to-air highlights on NOS]
Spain: DAZN F1
United Kingdom and Ireland: Sky Sports F1 [free-to-air highlights on Channel 4]
United States: ESPN, Spanish language broadcast available on ESPN Deportes
For those looking to watch live races online, F1 TV Pro is available in selected countries, which allows you to watch every session live, have access to exclusive live timing, documentaries and live shows – and is available to watch on any of your chosen devices via web, iOS, Android, Amazon Fire, Roku and Chromecast.
Which drivers have won the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix?
Both races around Jeddah have featured fierce battles at the front for victory, with Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton making contact in the inaugural race in Saudi Arabia as their fraught title battle in 2021 came to a head.
Verstappen overtook Charles Leclerc for the lead in a thrilling battle in the closing stages last year, with the Red Bull driver coming out on top in a metaphorical chess match over the use of DRS.
2022 – Max Verstappen, Red Bull
2021 – Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
What is the weather forecast for the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix?
With Jeddah and Saudi Arabia being in a desert climate, no rain is expected this weekend, but in terms of track temperatures, Sunday’s race may be a bit cooler than the rest of the weekend under the floodlights.
Friday 17 March – Sunny spells, high temperature 30°C, low 22°C
Saturday 18 March – Sunny spells, high temperature 31°C, low 24°C
Sunday 19 March – Sunny spells, high temperature 30°C, low 20°C
[Weather forecast by Accuweather]
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What are the tyre compounds for the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix?
The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix tyres will be marked as follows, with the Pirelli compounds being a step softer than they were in Bahrain:
C2: Hard (white)
C3: Medium (yellow)
C4: Soft (red)
If you need to find out more about the changes surrounding the new Pirelli tyres for 2023 or about Formula 1’s tyre rules in general, we’ve put together a handy guide which you can read by clicking here.