Jeddah’s High-Speed Tyre Challenge

pirelli tyres jeddah 2024 f1

Formula 1’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is set to test the teams and drivers with its high-speed corners and smooth track surface. Unlike the abrasive asphalt of Bahrain, Jeddah’s Corniche Circuit demands a different strategic approach to tyre management, with Pirelli opting for softer compounds to tackle the 27 corners over 50 laps under the cooler evening temperatures.

Between the lines

  • Jeddah’s Corniche Circuit, the second longest on the F1 calendar, is known for its high average speeds and a twisty layout featuring the most corners of any track.
  • Pirelli has selected the middle range of tyre compounds (C2, C3, C4) for this Grand Prix, differing from the harder compounds used in Bahrain.
  • Qualifying and race sessions will take place in the evening, which means lower track temperatures compared to the practice sessions in the daytime.
  • Despite the softer tyre selection, a one-stop strategy is expected due to low degradation, with overtaking opportunities primarily at turn 1.
  • The risk of accidents is heightened by the street circuit’s narrow run-off areas, increasing the likelihood of Safety Car appearances or race stoppages.

Go deeper

The Jeddah Corniche Circuit is set to provide a stark contrast to the season opener in Bahrain. The track’s smooth surface, combined with its fast-paced nature, will place a different kind of stress on the tyres. Drivers will have to navigate through a dizzying 27 corners, each applying lateral forces to the tyres due to the medium to high-speed nature of the turns.

Pirelli’s decision to bring the C2, C3, and C4 compounds indicates a strategic gamble, betting on the track’s low degradation to allow for softer tyres that can still last the distance. This choice will likely lead to varied strategies during the race, with teams having to decide the optimal time to pit and switch compounds.

The cooler evening conditions are a strategic factor as well. The drop in temperatures can affect the tyres’ performance, requiring teams to adapt their setups and strategies accordingly. Drivers will need to be mindful of the changing grip levels as they transition from the warmer practice sessions to the cooler qualifying and race conditions.

One of the unique challenges at Jeddah will be finding the right window to set a flying lap in qualifying. With high track evolution and the potential for traffic, timing will be crucial. Teams will have to carefully monitor the track conditions and send their drivers out at the ideal moment to secure a strong grid position.

Lastly, the street circuit’s narrow confines and lack of run-off areas not only increase the risk of incidents but also make overtaking a challenging endeavor. Drivers will have to be opportunistic and precise, especially when attempting moves into the primary overtaking spot at turn 1. With the potential for Safety Car periods or red flags, teams and drivers will need to remain flexible and ready to adapt their strategies on the fly.