Red Bull expecting greater challenge in Jeddah
By Mat Coch
Friday 17th March, 2023 - 4:39am
Red Bull heads into this weekend’s F1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jeddah expecting a sterner challenge than it faced last time out.
Max Verstappen headed a one-two from team-mate Sergio Perez in Bahrain two weeks ago in a dominant performance from Red Bull.
Fernando Alonso was the nearest challenger, more than 30 seconds adrift of the race winner after 57 laps of racing.
In fourth was Carlos Sainz as the Ferrari driver struggled to keep life in his tyres in the latter stages.
Lewis Hamilton was next best for Mercedes in fifth and has since suggested Red Bull holds a 1.5s/lap pace advantage in race trim.
Red Bull challenge in Jeddah
“It’s a very different circuit here,” Perez said on Thursday in Saudi Arabia.
“The requirements are very different, the degradation is not as severe as Bahrain.
“We certainly believe that Ferrari is going to be pretty strong around this place.
“Certainly, Astons, Mercedes are going to be a lot closer to us because the requirements are very different here.”
Red Bull strengths
Hamilton highlighted Red Bull’s ability to exit a corner as a strong point, especially compared to his W14.
The RB19 also looked after its tyres in Bahrain whereas Ferrari in particular suffered.
Those advantages are mitigated by the Jeddah circuit which is both faster and more flowing.
There is less emphasis on traction or braking leaving Perez and Red Bull expecting a greater challenge.
“Looking after the tyres, I think we got it right in Bahrain,” Perez mused.
“I think a few teams probably didn’t optimise their cars or the strategy with the tyres as much as we were able to do.
“But here is just very different because here the requirements are extremely different.”
Verstappen was absent from Thursday’s media sessions after delaying his travel to Saudi Arabia.
The Dutchman posted on social media that a stomach bug had impacted his preparations and prompted him to delay heading to the track by a day.
He is due to arrive in time for track action to begin at 16:30 local time on Friday (00:30 AEDT Saturday).
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