Could Sergio Perez win the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix? - Long Run Analysis

18-03-2023 08:00 Last update: 19-03-2023 07:29

Could Sergio Perez win the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix? Well, it is too early to say and although Verstappen has topped both practice sessions at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit we’re taking hope from Perez’s long-run results.

Now everyone is expecting Verstappen to drive off into the Saudi Arabian night on Sunday and not look back, win by a country mile and tighten his grip on P1 in the Drivers’ Standings. However the long run data suggests it might not be quite as simple as that. 

Long Run hope for Perez

In fact it’s Max’s Red Bull teammate that holds the advantage in the long run department. Sergio Perez had an average long run lap time of 1:35.067 on the medium compound tyre, quicker than Max Verstappen with an average of 1:35.215 and the Dutchman was on the soft tyres. In fact as the long run stints went on Perez just got better and better. His opening lap was a 1:35.182 and at his lowest dipped to 1:34.648. He started off lapping at between 1:35.1 and 1:35.4 before dropping into the 1:34s. Perez improving as he went on suggests there's plenty of push room left.

The Jeddah Corniche Circuit

Lets have a look at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit itself. It is the fastest street circuit that Formula 1 visits and average speeds in qualifying are over 250 km/h and over 80% of the lap is spent at full throttle and many of the corners can be taken flat-out given the soft angle. It really is a monster for speed. All three sectors are pretty quick, but the first is slightly slower with tighter turns. The first corner is particularly tight, and then the drivers have to flick the steering wheel in the opposite direction almost immediately to take the second corner. Through sector one Max Verstappen was quickest and perhaps shows his skill level as it is a more technical part of the track.

In the following two sectors, having a high downforce is negative. Without DRS, it becomes difficult for the cars to dump drag and they will therefore lose time during the faster areas of the circuit. This means that during the race, when DRS isn't available regularly, a high downforce reduces performances in sectors two and three. The fastest sector two went to Fernando Alonso whilst sector three went to Sergio Perez. From this we can perhaps infer that the Red Bull maybe manages its tyres better as Alonso loses a tenth in sector three but it’s such a small delta it’s hard to be sure. The biggest delta to Verstappen is in sector one which could mean they are running slightly less downforce.

It is worth noting that Fernando Alonso lost his second-fastest push lap because Sainz locked up accidentally and It was a similar story for Verstappen who got caught out by a double yellow flag. The Dutchman set his quickest time on four-lap old soft tyres.

So is Sergio Perez going to win the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix? Who knows but the early signs are positive and he can take that going forward into qualifying and race day.

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