Pierre Gasly thinks a “very complicated” weekend awaits the drivers and teams at the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
The Jeddah Corniche Circuit represents another brand new territory for Formula 1 as the thrilling 2021 season starts to reach its conclusion.
Much has been made of the high-speed nature of the circuit and its small run-off areas, but Gasly feels an “extra challenge” is on the cards as the fresh tarmac will need to be rubbered in extensively in order for it not to feel like it resembles driving on ice.
“Judging from what I saw on the simulator, Saudi will be extremely quick with a large number of very high-speed corners, some of them blind,” said Gasly, previewing the Saudi Arabian GP.
“I think it will be very complicated from a driving point of view and there will be the extra challenge of the track surface being completely new.
“No cars have ever raced on it, there will be no rubber down and probably some oil will still be coming out of the tarmac, which is what normally happens at a new circuit.
“So we are looking at a street circuit with quite low grip, which is a new challenge as nobody has any data from the track.”
AlphaTauri were at least quick out of the starting blocks on Friday at another new track in Qatar last time out, and Gasly is using that experience as reason to have at least some confidence heading to Jeddah.
“For our part, we showed in Qatar we can adapt fairly quickly to a new situation, running near the front immediately from the Friday,” Gasly added.
“However, we will have to work hard to be quick over a single lap and also a long distance, to find the right compromise for both Saturday and Sunday.
“Another thing that is clear from the simulator is the speeds are very high but the walls are very close, so it should be impressive from the cockpit and a nice challenge which we must prepare as well as possible for.”
With both AlphaTauri cars ultimately failing to score points at the Qatar Grand Prix, the Red Bull ‘sister’ team have it all to do in their fight for P5 with Alpine.
They find themselves 25 points behind their nearest rivals with just two races remaining following Fernando Alonso’s superb podium finish (P3) backed up by a strong Esteban Ocon display which saw him come home P5 in Qatar.