Formula 1 has revealed the layout of the Jeddah Street Circuit, the track that will host the controversial Saudi Arabian Grand Prix scheduled for December 5. While we’ve seen many street circuits come and go in F1, I’m not sure we’ve seen one quite like this in a while.
At 3.83 miles, Jeddah is second only to Spa-Francorchamps as the longest circuit on F1's calendar. And despite its 27 corners, the average speed of a lap here is said to be 155 mph. It doesn’t really make sense, until you look at the map.
Street circuits typically employ many 90-degree or similarly tight corners, because they’re traced on public roads in grid-like cities. Jeddah, though, is very different. This track flows smoother than some purpose-built ones on the schedule, with more gentle curves and high-speed esses. It more closely resembles old-school road courses than modern street circuits, and that could make it a blast to drive. Turns 13 through 24 look like heaven, and yeah — that’s about half the track right there.
F1 published a simulated lap of the track, embedded below, providing an idea of what the drivers will be faced with. Almost none of the “straightaways” are actually straight, offering little time to take a breath and stretch your legs. It’s relentless:
Still, I’m willing to wait until I see some actual racing here before casting judgment. Last year demonstrated that F1 can occasionally thrive on tracks that aren’t necessarily designed with its qualities and challenges in mind. Everyone said the race at Mugello was going to be an epic snoozefest, until it wasn’t. Same for Imola.
In fairness, both those circuits benefit from gravel runoffs that punish drivers for getting it wrong, something that won’t factor into the Jeddah experience. It’ll be interesting to see how this year’s inaugural race unfolds versus next year’s after the all-new aero regulations take effect in 2022.