The inaugural Saudi Arabia Grand Prix will be held during arguably one of the best championship battles in the recent history of Formula 1. The brand new Jeddah Corniche Circuit will have a lot of eyes on it when the penultimate race of the 2021 season gets underway.
Going into the race after a stressful triple header for the teams, let's take a look at some of the key storylines before the inaugural Saudi Arabia Grand Prix.
Top 3 storylines for F1 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix
#1 Will we even have a Saudi Arabia Grand Prix?
Before we talk about the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix, we have to address the elephant in the room. Recently, a few pictures of the track surfaced on the internet, and by the looks of it, the complex looked far from ready. Keeping the timeframe in mind, there are question marks on whether the circuit will be ready in time.
Although officials have given multiple assurances of the same, there are still dark clouds hanging over the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix. To add to this, Lewis Hamilton's public views against human rights violations in the Middle East do not paint the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix in a positive light.
Until the F1 circus reaches Jeddah, the organizers will be keeping their fingers crossed and hoping that the event goes through as originally planned.
#2 Can Red Bull F1 compete against Mercedes?
One look at the layout for the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix and it becomes evident that the track is tailor-made for Mercedes. The long straights and fast corners are exactly what Lewis Hamilton would want as he tries to cut down his points deficit to Max Verstappen.
For Mercedes, the fresh engine they first used in Brazil will make its return and should give them a further boost at the circuit. But for Red Bull F1, there will be questions raised about how it approaches the race.
Can it afford another damage-limitation exercise in Saudi Arabia? It will be interesting to see if Max Verstappen has a car underneath him to challenge Lewis Hamilton.
#3 Will Valtteri Bottas or Sergio Perez be a factor in the race?
One of the key proponents in the championship battle has to be Sergio Perez and Valtteri Bottas, respective teammates of Verstappen and Hamilton. Although both drivers have played a crucial role here and there to help their teammates nick a few points throughout the season, it has to be said that neither of the two drivers has had a stellar season so far.
While both drivers have had their moments, they could have done a lot more to help their teammates in the championship battle.
At the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix, both men will get another opportunity to make their presence felt. If Bottas finishes second behind Hamilton, the latter would take the championship lead by at least one point, as Verstappen would only be able to score a maximum of 16 points by finishing third and setting the fastest lap.
Meanwhile, Perez could be a thorn in Hamilton's side if he manages to jump the Mercedes driver and act as a rear-gunner for Verstappen.
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In the late stages of the championship, what either of these two drivers is able to achieve could play a huge role in determining who comes out on top at the end of the season.