RIYADH: Haas Formula One Team driver Mick Schumacher said he is looking forward to racing this weekend by the open sea in what is Saudi Arabia’s inaugural Grand Prix for the championship.
A member of the Ferrari Driver Academy, Schumacher was in Riyadh on Friday and Saturday for the Ferrari Motorsport Festival before making his way to Jeddah for the fifth night race of the season.
The Swiss-born German driver — son of seven-time F1 world champion Michael Schumacher — told Arab News: “I’ve only driven (the Jeddah Corniche Circuit) in the simulator, so it will be different in real life. It seems to be a very quick track.”
Schumacher, who currently drives for the American team Haas, drove two historic Ferrari cars at the festival in Riyadh: the SF70H, and the FXX which his father Michael previously drove. “These cars are very special to drive, it was great being able to connect with them even though it’s not a big track here, I still got to feel it,” he said.
The younger Schumacher began his career in karting in 2008 and progressed to the German ADAC Formula Four in 2015. After winning the 2018 FIA Formula Three European Championship, he moved up to Formula Two in 2019 and won the championship the following year. Along with Russian driver Nikita Mazepin, Schumacher replaced Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean on Haas’ roster this season.
The Jeddah Grand Prix on Dec. 5 is the penultimate race of the 2021 season, with fans eagerly anticipating the culmination of an epic competition to discover who will take the crown: seven-time world champion Mercedes-AMG driver Lewis Hamilton or up-and-coming Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen.
“I think the average speed (of the Jeddah track) is more than 250 kilometers per hour, so it will be challenging for sure,” Schumacher said. “Hopefully with some ocean breeze, we’ll be able to have a nice race.”
Located on the corniche along the Red Sea, the Formula One stc Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is 6,175 km long, making it the second-longest circuit on the F1 calendar after Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, and the longest and fastest street track in Formula One, with average speeds of 252 kilometers per hour and top speeds of up to 322 kilometers per hour between Turns 25 and 27.
Several Formula One teams have already arrived to a colorful welcome at Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport, with more due to arrive in the coming days as the countdown to the big race continues.
International stars Justin Bieber and Jason Derulo will headline a pair of after-race concerts over the race weekend, joined by Tiesto, ASAP Rocky and David Guetta.
The Formula One village will offer visitors outdoor recreational activities on its new walkways and cycling paths and children’s playgrounds.
“Jeddah is my hometown and I cannot wait to see the Formula One cars drive on the corniche by the Red Sea, where I used to drive before construction began,” one fan told Arab News. “That is something I’ve been waiting my whole life to see.”