A sneak peek at the Saudia Arabian GP Jeddah Corniche Circuit

Saudia Arabian GP
Eric Lafforgue / Getty Images

Five races remain on the 2021 Formula One schedule and two of the final three Grand Prixs will be held in countries hosting the series for the first time with the addition of the Saudi Arabian GP and the Qatar GP.

The penultimate race on the calendar could be one of the most exciting and interesting events of the season as the flat 3.84-mile Jeddah Corniche Circuit is projected to create some of the fastest lap times with the most corners of any 2021 track.

“The circuit in Jeddah will be extraordinary,” said F1 track designer Carsten Tilke at Formula1.com. “It will be a different kind of street track, something the world has never seen before.”

The Jeddah Corniche Circuit is being designed in a part of the city that was mostly empty of buildings, which allows the track designers to create the longest, and they believe fastest, street circuit in Formula One history. In fact, the Jeddah circuit is shorter than only one permanent course with Spa-Francorchamps measuring at 4.35 miles in length.

Since this is a purpose-built track creating its own system of roads, including banked corners, it stretches the definition of a street course, but those concerns will fade away as soon as cars hit the pavement.

The track is positioned on the shores of the Red Sea, so there will not be any significant elevation change that would scrub off momentum. Simulations suggest speeds for the Saudia Arabian GP will be in the range of 157 m.p.h. Australia’s Albert Park is about 10 miles per hour slower.

With so much open space, the temptation existed to create long straightaways, so they did. But Tilke and his engineers did not scrimp on the corners. Jeddah will boast more turns than any other current track with 27. The Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore has 23. This year’s finale will be held at the Yas Marina Circuit one week later in Abu Dhabi, where drivers will have to master 21 turns.

“Why this circuit works so well is that it will have the atmosphere of an urban venue, but the space and run-off so we can increase the speed of the corners,” said Tilke. “This is something you can normally only do at a permanent facility, but here we have been able to create very challenging fast corners that the drivers will love.

“I have driven the lap many times on the simulator and with sections featuring walls close to the edge of the circuit, you really need to concentrate to avoid making a mistake. It will be very rewarding for those who can master all 27 corners.”

The unique topography is not the only factor that allows the designers to take bold moves. The Jeddah Corniche Circuit is essentially a place holder for a permanent course planed for 2023 at Qiddiya, near the capital Riyadh. Jeddah will also host the 2022 Saudia Arabian GP on March 27.

Cadillac confirms WEC driver lineup with Chip Ganassi Racing that will race Le Mans in 2023

Cadillac Ganassi Le Mans
Cadillac Racing

Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing announced their driver lineup for a 2023 entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the sports car series that includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Cadillac V-LMDh entry will be driven by Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn, who were teamed on the No. 02 Cadillac that competed in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi class this season and won the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The third driver will be Richard Westbrook, who will return to Ganassi after helping the team to a GT class win at Le Mans in 2018.

The team also will compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the rebranded Grand Touring Prototype premier category, which is designed for crossover between the top prototypes in IMSA and WEC. Ganassi will field a second entry at Daytona with its No. 01 Cadillac that will compete full time in IMSA with Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande.

Next year will mark the return of Cadillac to Le Mans for the first time since 2002.

Before joining Ganassi last year, Lynn made 28 WEC starts since 2016, winning the LMGTE Pro class at Le Mans in 2020.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to continue with Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing,” Lynn said in a release. “It’s a huge honor to drive for Chip in any capacity but certainly on a full factory sports car program, it’s seriously cool. Cadillac has so much heritage as a luxury North American sports car brand, so to be able to represent them is a huge privilege. I’ve had a lot of fun in my first year doing it and to continue that onto the World Endurance Championship stage is fantastic.

“For me, returning to WEC is sort of what I’ve always known and it’s a bit like going into my wheelhouse. This year in IMSA was a bit different with getting to know all-new circuits and a new style of racing so 2023 will be filled with a bit more of what I’m used to with more of a European focus. I think what’s significant about WEC is without a doubt Le Mans. As a sports car race, Le Mans is the crown jewel and everything that we want to win. To be able to take Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac back to Le Mans to fight for overall honors is a huge honor and that’s something that I’m going to work tirelessly to make sure we achieve.”

Bamber won the Le Mans overall in 2015 and ’17 with Porsche teams and also was a 2019 GTLM champion in IMSA.

“I am really happy to continue at Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac,” Bamber said in a release. “I’ve loved my first season in DPi and now to continue over into the LMDh era and WEC is super exciting. Looking forward to fighting for a world championship and another Le Mans victory.

“The World Endurance Championships gives us the opportunity to race at the world’s biggest race, which is Le Mans, the crown jewel of sports car racing. I’ve been lucky enough to win it before and it’s obviously a huge goal for Cadillac and everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing. To have that goal in sight is really exciting. It’s been great to have Alex as a teammate in 2022. We’ve been able to learn and grow together in the DPi, and we have a really good partnership going into WEC. We know each other really well and believe adding Richard will be a seamless transition.”

Said Westbrook: “After four really good years at Chip Ganassi Racing, I’ve got so many friends there and I’ve always dreamt to come back one day. It just worked so well between 2016 and 2019, and I’m delighted we found a route to come together again. I can’t wait, it’s an exciting era in sports car racing right now.

“I feel like I know Alex and Earl really well. I did Le Mans with Alex in 2020 and I’ve known him for years. It feels like I’m going back with an ex-teammate and exactly the same with Earl. Although I’ve never shared a car with Earl, we’ve always done the same sort of racing be it in WEC or in IMSA. We’ve had lots of battles, including this year in our dueling Cadillacs. We’ve always gotten along quite well, and I can say we’re going to have a great year together.”

The seven-race WEC season, which also includes a stop at Spa, will begin March 17 with the 1,000 Miles of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Florida.