F1 returns to the shores of the Red Sea and the Jeddah Corniche street circuit this weekend for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Although it has only hosted two races — and it won’t be around for long as a permanent circuit is in the works — both have been action-packed.
Despite Red Bull’s dominance in testing and at the season opener in Bahrain — expect that trend to continue with Aston Martin’s continued ascent and a Ferrari title hopeful already set to take a grid penalty — good racing should happen throughout the field.
Here’s what you need to know for the grand prix weekend:
Saudi Arabian Grand Prix broadcast schedule
All times ET
Friday9:25-10:30 a.m.: Free practice 1 (ESPN2)12:55-2 p.m.: Free practice 2 (ESPNEWS)Saturday9:25-10:30 a.m.: Free practice 3 (ESPN2)12:55-2 p.m.: Qualifying (ESPNEWS)Sunday11:30 a.m.-12:55 p.m.: Pre-race show (ESPN, ESPN+)12:55-3 p.m.: Saudi Arabian Grand Prix (ESPN, ESPN+)
Saudi Arabian Grand Prix details
Track: Jeddah Corniche street circuit (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)Track length: 3.83 milesTurns: 27 (15 left, 12 right)Laps: 50Lap record: 1:30.734 (Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 2021)Tire compounds: C2 (Hard), C3 (Medium), C4 (Soft)
Saudi Arabian Grand Prix starting grid
Sergio Perez (11), Red Bull-Honda RBPT
Fernando Alonso (14), Aston Martin-Mercedes
George Russell (63), Mercedes
Carlos Sainz (55), Ferrari
Lance Stroll (18), Aston Martin-Mercedes
Esteban Ocon (31), Alpine-Renault
Lewis Hamilton (44), Mercedes
Oscar Piastri (81), McLaren-Mercedes
Pierre Gasly (10), Alpine-Renault
Nico Hulkenberg, (27), Haas-Ferrari
Zhou Guanyu (24), Alfa Romeo-Ferrari
Charles Leclerc (16), Ferrari
Kevin Magnussen (20), Haas-Ferrari
Valtteri Bottas (77), Alfa Romeo-Ferrari
Max Verstappen (1), Red Bull-Honda RBPT
Yuki Tsunoda (22), AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT
Alexander Albon (23), Williams-Mercedes
Nyck De Vries (21), AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT
Lando Norris (4), McLaren-Mercedes
Logan Sargeant (2), Williams-Mercedes
Charles Leclerc gets 10-place grid drop
Charles Leclerc's Ferrari will already need to use a third Control Electronics unit this weekend after the previous two failed in Bahrain. Given that teams are only allowed to use two per season without consequence, Leclerc has received a 10-place grid drop penalty to be administered after Saturday's qualifying sessions.
Grid drops are fairly common from midseason and further into the calendar as parts break down but already out of a key power unit component two races into what will be a record 23-race campaign, Leclerc's Ferrari is already fighting out of a massive hole.
Top drivers and best bets for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
Max Verstappen has been imperious for the better part of three seasons now and he enters the weekend as the only driver to finish on the podium in both trips to Jeddah. Verstappen finished second to Lewis Hamilton — after some incredible racing and one-upmanship — at the inaugural race and won it last year. Verstappen's Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez took the pole for last year's race but when a safety car was called right after he made a pit stop, it allowed Verstappen and Leclerc to easily pass him by pitting under yellow flag conditions.
For those reasons and Leclerc guaranteed to start no better than 11th, Verstappen has incredibly short odds according to BetMGM.
Best odds to win
Max Verstappen (-225)
Sergio Perez (+500)
Fernando Alonso (+700)
Carlos Sainz (+1400)
Charles Leclerc (+1800)
Yahoo Sports' Nick Bromberg understandably is bullish on Verstappen, recommending betting him for pole (+120) and race win.
Saudi Arabian Grand Prix entries
Max Verstappen (1), Red Bull-Honda RBPTSergio Perez (11), Red Bull-Honda RBPTCharles Leclerc (16), FerrariCarlos Sainz (55), FerrariLewis Hamilton (44), MercedesGeorge Russell (63), MercedesPierre Gasly (10), Alpine-RenaultEsteban Ocon (31), Alpine-RenaultLando Norris (4), McLaren-MercedesOscar Piastri (81), McLaren-MercedesZhou Guanyu (24), Alfa Romeo-FerrariValtteri Bottas (77), Alfa Romeo-FerrariFernando Alonso (14), Aston Martin-MercedesLance Stroll (18), Aston Martin-MercedesKevin Magnussen (20), Haas-FerrariNico Hulkenberg, (27), Haas-FerrariNyck De Vries (21), AlphaTauri-Honda RBPTYuki Tsunoda (22), AlphaTauri-Honda RBPTLogan Sargeant (2), Williams-MercedesAlexander Albon (23), Williams-Mercedes
Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weather
The weekend forecast for Jeddah calls for 0% chance of precipitation and increasingly warm temperatures topping out around 90 degrees. That should lead to rubber being laid down more quickly and the track to evolve even quicker than normal. That could bode well for a team that makes a bold strategy call mid-race to capitalize.