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  • Writer's pictureEmmanuel Adu-Awuku

My first Formula 1 experience was sublime, thank you Jeddah

Jeddah Corniche Circuit; Courtesy - Pundit Feed


Well, well, well…who would have thought Jeddah would be my first Formula 1 (F1) experience. Jeddah Corniche Circuit, one of three night races in F1, is elongated along the red sea across 27 turns, and is the world’s fastest street circuit with a top speed of 322 kph. Simply put, IT IS STUNNING!


This was absolutely amazing because (1) I never dreamed of ever going to an F1 grand prix but here we are and (2) Jeddah is a beautiful location, topped off by relaxing beaches that provide a lovely distraction to the Formula (as it’s referred to in the Middle East).

Jeddah International Airport


The whole of Jeddah was geared up for the Formula. From arriving at the airport (Thursday, 10am), to driving across the city, and hearing the roars of the Formula cars. It was magical to be part of the hype. Jeddah was hosting round two of the 2024 F1 championships so there was lots of hype even as 2024 is turning out to be another Max Verstappen year. 


Here’s how I spent my time at the Jeddah Corniche circuit…

 

Free Practice Three (FP3 @ Friday, 5pm) and Qualifying (Quali @ Friday, 8pm)


For FP3, I was with the homie Alex. We left the hotel at 430pm, arriving trackside at 545pm in the middle of FP3 so we had missed some action. But nonetheless, we weren’t deterred. We walked quickly across the Fanzone campus to access the Main Grandstand seating. This was after the start/finish line and before turn 1 - perfect for absorbing all of the action, it’s a great overtaking spot.


We took our seats and got accustomed to the lightning speed of the formula cars as they zoomed past the grandstand. If you blinked, you missed it - it was absolutely thrilling to be this close to F1 cars.


Quali was later in the evening. By that time, Mpho and June had joined so it was a full house. Outside of explaining the concept of F1 as a sport, quali was fast and predictable. Max did what he needed to do, securing pole position (position one on the grid), quite comfortably as well. Everyone else was meh, not because they were actually “meh”, but Max is just on a different level. His focus is crystal clear, only second to his supreme driving ability. Red Bull led quali followed by Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes, Aston Martin, and the rest.


A$AP Rocky concert @ Friday, 1130pm


After quali would have been a great time to go home - but no - Mpho and June wanted to see A$AP Rocky. Oh my gosh! It meant staying up and fighting crowds to find a good view point. And after finding a good view point, fighting to stay there. It was a lot of effort.

Long. Live. A$AP


I was very hesitant to stay for the concert but someone had to keep an eye on the ladies. A$AP actually put on a very good show I must say. I’d forgotten how much of a fan I was - singing lyrics word for word and dougieing to some of his classic tunes. What a time to be alive!!


One hour later, it was time to go home. The final fight of the morning had begun - finding the exit and finding the car. I had no clue where we parked, all I knew was that the car was on the other side of the campus. I cried! We walked, and kept walking, and kept walking. After all that walking, we walked some more…it genuinely felt like forever. We only got to the car an hour later - boy, were we so relieved! I’m not doing that again anytime soon…

 

Main race @ Saturday, 8pm


Alex and I left the hotel at 5pm for the main race. Traffic to the race track was insane. It stretched on for about five kilometres or so. Alex and I skipped the traffic by using the main roundabout instead of dedicated service roads - lucky gamble.


The Fanzone campus was packed, all of Jeddah had come alive for the race (a race usually runs for 1 hour and 30 minutes). It was exciting just to be a part of the hype. Oh my gosh, I couldn’t believe it at times - wow, wow, wow!

From the couch to trackside


We got settled. Race tension escalated quickly as the cars came on track for their pre-race prep. Pretty wicked! From the couch to trackside, wow! I had seen all the pre-race antics on TV. To see it live was very cool indeed. The drone show, coupled with the air show was breathtaking - it was mesmerising and perfectly executed. Jeddah Corniche Circuit were pulling all the right moves.


Ok let’s get technical - the race was boring, with flashes of brilliance of course. That’s the only thing we have to look forward to these days in F1. Max led an uneventful start. Unfortunately for spectators, the safety car came out on lap 8 of 50, narrowing the options of pit-stop strategies as most teams, except McLaren and Mercedes decided to pit early. From there, it was a holding pattern until the end of the race. Even as a Verstappen fan, this race was meh. There were lots of overtakes at turn one which was great for the fans - but the energy was low for most of the race. To be honest, we enjoyed socialising more than the race. 


But that won’t take away from my first experience of an F1 grand prix. I loved every moment, and Jeddah threw more vibes than I expected. I’m absolutely grateful to have had this experience. For my next F1 experience, we’re definitely getting VIP access and going backstage to mingle with the stars. Stay tuned


What’s next for the 2024 F1 championships?


2024 is the longest season in F1 history (3 out of 24 races completed) so that means lots of motor racing. I’m looking forward to following the hype, storylines, and plotting a second F1 destination later in the year. Here’s a rundown of the next few races. I’m looking forward to Miami and Monaco.


  • 07 April - Suzuka (Japan)

  • 21 April - Shanghai (China)

  • 05 May - Miami (USA)

  • 19 May - Emilia Romagna (Italy)

  • 26 May - Monaco (Monaco)


If you’re curious about Jeddah, read Jeddah lifestyle blog to understand Jeddah’s charm. Stay up to date with my F1 commentary on Instagram, subscribe on YouTube and keep your notifications on for the YouTube blog.

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