Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz reckons the high-speed nature of the all-new Jeddah Corniche Circuit and modified Yas Marina Circuit will bring the midfield pack together and lead to a "very tight" battle for points.
Formula 1 heads to Saudi Arabia for the first time this weekend, with the Jeddah street track boasting an anticipated average speed of more than 250km/h, given its long straights and sweeping corners.
Meanwhile, significant changes have been made at the Yas Marina venue ahead of the season-ending Abu Dhabi GP, with chicanes removed and corners reprofiled - a move tipped to lower lap times by 10-15 seconds.
"It could be a very tight battle"
Given the trends seen so far this season, Sainz expects Ferrari to be in a close fight with McLaren, Alpine and AlphaTauri at both races.
"The last few tracks, it's a bit of an unknown," Sainz told media, including RacingNews365.com.
"It looks like a very high-speed circuit, and we have seen in a high-speed circuit that with cars like Alpine, McLaren and AlphaTauri, all of a sudden the field compresses a lot, so it could be a very tight battle in Jeddah.
"Then in Abu Dhabi, with the new changes they've done to the track also, it looks like a higher speed track than what it used to be, [with] less chicanes, and more high-speed nature, and this could also bring the whole midfield back together."
No concerns at Ferrari
Ferrari now hold a 39.5-point advantage over McLaren in the battle for third in the standings, following a successful triple-header sequence in Mexico, Brazil and Qatar, giving them a solid buffer for the final two races.
Sainz is hopeful that, despite his predictions of a much closer midfield fight, Ferrari will have enough in hand to secure the position.
"It will be a very, very tough couple of races, but if we continue working as we are, working as a team, I think we can be confident that we will keep bringing points back and delivering like we are trying to," he commented.
Sainz holds seventh in the Drivers' standings, 6.5 points behind teammate Charles Leclerc.