Lewis Hamilton set the pace in both of Friday’s practice sessions at the 6km, 27-corner venue, and afterwards the seven-time world champion called the circuit “rapid” and “unbelievably quick”. 

“It really is incredibly fast and [has] a lot of grip as well,” Hamilton added. “If you can get into the rhythm, it’s really beautiful to drive.” 

Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas enjoyed his experience so much that he couldn’t keep his initial feelings to himself. 

“Fuck! This track is cool,” he exclaimed over team radio during the opening practice session. 

After the day’s running was complete, the Finn added: “It’s really cool, it’s quite hardcore. It’s pretty full gas and close to the walls and high-speed. 

"But that’s what we want, that’s what we enjoy and definitely gives us a bit of an adrenalin rush.” 

Bottas wasn’t the only driver thrilled by the adrenaline buzz due to the mind-boggling speeds, with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly also reporting how much he enjoyed his first experience of the near-flat-out track. 

79% of the lap is spent on full throttle, resulting in average speeds being clocked at 155mph during FP2. 


“I must say, I really enjoyed it,” said Gasly, who ended the day third-quickest. 

“It’s very high-speed. We are going through the corners at some crazy, crazy speeds and you get quite a lot of adrenaline, a big rush of adrenaline.”

Sergio Perez may have struggled to get up to speed as quickly as his Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen, but the Mexican nevertheless found the circuit to be “fluid” and “really enjoyable”. 

But Perez and Hamilton - who had a near-miss with Antonio Giovinazzi at the end of FP2 - highlighted concerns about the potential hazards of traffic in qualifying given Jeddah’s tight layout and close proximity of the walls. 

“It’s going to be tricky,” Perez explained. “I think the qualifying with the traffic management, it’s going to be trying to be there at the right place, you know? 

“I think you saw a bit what happened when everyone was on the soft tyre at the end [of FP2]. It can get very tricky, very messy, very quickly.”

McLaren’s Lando Norris noted how drivers will have remain alert at all times, adding: “If you blink at the wrong time you’re going to be in the wall.” 


“You need so much concentration because it is also so fast,” the Briton said. 

“On a street circuit like Monaco, and a lot of the circuits you have to concentrate a lot, but some of it is also very slow so you can relax a little bit, and it is a bit easier to judge where the wall is and so on. 

"Whereas here all of it is high-speed, so judging the distance to the walls is much more difficult. It makes it more difficult to concentrate. 

“It is going to be difficult in the race especially. But it is a fun circuit, especially the first sector with the barriers in the whole flow of the section - it is a lot of fun. Difficult but it is very enjoyable.” 

Daniel Ricciardo echoed his teammate’s comments, saying the track is “busy and keeps you on your toes”. 

“It kind of all looks the same, so you have to talk yourself through each corner,” he continued. 

“‘Okay this is this corner, this is that corner, fourth gear, okay this is now fifth’. It is a maze. But it is a lot of fun and the grip is good. So on a track like this, a fast street circuit, it is nice to feel something like that.” 


Asked for his impressions, Esteban Ocon replied: "As fast and as crazy as we were talking about, for sure!”

Ocon emphasised that mental concentration will be just as important as the physical demands placed on the drivers around the new venue. 

“It’s certainly not an easy circuit to master as it’s very fast and very demanding physically,” the Alpine driver said. 

“Above all, I’d say it’s tough for mental efficiency and remaining focused for the whole lap, even on the straights where you have to keep an eye on slower cars ahead. 

“You have to be absolutely on it here in every aspect.”

Despite the huge perils and potential for jeopardy, there was only one red flag disruption during the two hours of track action on Friday. 

That was caused by Charles Leclerc when the Monegasque lost control at the high-speed Turn 22 and slammed into the barriers, wrecking his Ferrari. 


Thankfully, Leclerc, who apologised to his team for the sizeable damage caused to his car, escaped the huge shunt unharmed. 

Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz said the brand new Jeddah circuit was “very different to anything I’ve driven before”. 

“The intensity that this track gives you, the thrill and adrenaline, it’s something I’ve not lived since my days in Macao, so it’s very different,” he explained. 

“Very intense, very high-speed, very close to the walls, trying to get the turning points right, just before brushing the wall on the inside. It’s quite crazy out there.” 

Meanwhile, Sainz’s compatriot Fernando Alonso described Jeddah as being “spectacular” but predicted that overtaking will be tough. 

“I think the F2 [races] are going to be a good reference for us because we are obviously concerned about the overtaking opportunities, being a street circuit it’s going to be difficult,” the two-time world champion said. 

“Qualifying will be very important. So I think F2 will show us if it’s going to be a good show on Sunday or not.”