What You Need To Know About The First Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Formula One / Comments

Can Max Verstappen wrap up the title before the season is finished?

Since Lewis Hamilton dominated the first-ever Qatar Grand Prix, we've seen all sorts of predictions and theoretical scenarios pop up. With just two races left, people are starting to calculate which position Hamilton needs to finish in for Max Verstappen to win the driver's championship at this week's Saudi Arabia Grand Prix.

We think it's all just grade-A BS because the required results are improbable. Max needs to finish first, and Hamilton needs to finish in seventh place. We don't think it will happen with the two being closely tied throughout this whole season. The most likely scenario is a winner being announced at the final Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi. Unless Lewis Hamilton crashes, both drivers are likely under strict orders to keep it on the track. A crash would be devastating for both drivers, and nobody wants to see a championship won that way. Here are a few things (aside from the appearance of Ferrari SF90 fan Justin Bieber) to look out for this weekend.

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The Track

Like the last Grand Prix, this is another first for F1. It's yet another Middle Eastern race that will take place under floodlights. The circuit is so new that they're actually still building it. The crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, recently said that the builders are busy with the last 5%. Thankfully, that final five does not include the track. The track is good to go and ready to host the inaugural Saudi Arabia Grand Prix.

The Jeddah Corniche Circuit is a temporary street circuit, but not a street circuit as we know it. It will be the second-fastest track on the calendar, with the top spot still being dominated by the Temple of Speed, Monza. The average speed at Jeddah Corniche is estimated to be 158 mph. Saudi Arabia's first Grand Prix will be 50 laps in total, for a combined distance of 193 miles.


A Very Public Spat

Oddly, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen seem to be the coolest members of their respective teams. Their team bosses definitely aren't behaving like the fully grown adults they are. Since the infamous Turn 4 incident in Brazil, the spat has been extremely public. Toto Wolff became a meme, and Christian Horner turns hotheaded when someone asks a difficult question regarding his golden boy. Wolff says they "woke up the lion" in Hamilton, and Horner responded with, "we've won more races." Max Verstappen touched Hamilton's car, and Hamilton ran him off the road earlier this year at Silverstone. We like a bit of drama, but it's getting a bit out of hand.

Thankfully, the two team captains finally agreed on something this week. The footage of Verstappen touching Hamilton's car emerged on social media, which set the investigation in motion. Both team bosses expressed concern about fan footage being used for investigations.

We have to agree with them on that one. If the FIA had to investigate every video captured by the live audience, 90% of the grid would end up at the rear. Haas would finally get its first pole.

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The Constructor's Title

With only two races to go, we can start talking about the constructor's championship.

At the very top, it's too close to tell. Mercedes and Red Bull Racing Honda are separated by five points, and it could go either way. Predicting it now would be like predicting the winning driver.

What makes this particular battle even more interesting is that it also involves the teammates. Sergio Perez keeps on doing a splendid job for Red Bull, scoring precious points and fastest laps. Valtteri Bottas is in a class of his own, however. Driving without a care in the world works for him, and a part of Toto Wolff must feel guilty for allowing such a good driver to switch teams. The only reason Red Bull is in with a shot is because of Bottas' flat tire and DNF in Qatar.

Third place is still up for grabs, and it will most likely be filled by Ferrari. Following engine updates earlier this year, it caught up and eventually passed McLaren. The latter team can't seem to find its groove. It's a major downer, considering its magnificent one-two earlier this year.

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The Midfield Battle

While we can't tell you who will win, we know the top two positions will be occupied by Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. Third place is still very much up for grabs, with Valtteri Bottas on 203 points and Sergio Perez on 190 points. Few mention it, but it's still a battle worth keeping an eye on.

Lando Norris is the current leader of the midfield on 153 points, followed closely by the two Ferraris. Charles Leclerc is just one point behind, trailed by Carlos Sainz on 145.5 points. Daniel Ricciardo is having a bad season, however. Currently on 105 points, his younger teammate is making him look a bit irrelevant at the moment.

Pierre Gasly is doing the most with a poor car. To date, he's scored a total of 92 points in the AlphaTauri Honda, easily one-upping his teammate, Yuki Tsunoda (20 points). The tenth spot is occupied by Fernando Alonso on 77 points.

Team Haas remains the only one without points.

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That Spicy Engine

At the Brazilian Grand Prix, Mercedes demonstrated why it was a good idea to take a penalty and replace part of Hamilton's engine. Max Verstappen didn't have the pace to match the Merc. At the Qatar GP, the gap was nearly as big but Toto Wolf later revealed that Hamilton wasn't even using the "spicy equipment."

Mercedes took a gamble and went for an older engine, saving the spicy engine for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. With such a fast track and a car that's much faster down the straights than the Red Bull, Hamilton will probably win, but we also think people are too obsessed with Jeddah's straight sections.

The Red Bulls are quick through the high-speed corners, and the Jeddah Corniche circuit has several of those. Will the odds even out, however? We'll have to wait for Saturday's qualifying to get an idea of how fast the Mercedes is.

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