Perez fears ‘big shunt’ in first race on ‘very dangerous’ Jeddah track

2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Sergio Perez says that the Jeddah Corniche circuit is unnecessarily dangerous and believes the sport should review the track’s suitability after the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend.

After two days of running at Formula 1’s newest circuit, the track’s combination of high average lap speed and blind barrier-lined corner has led to a number of close-calls with cars on quick laps passing rivals cruising at reduced speeds, either trying to create space to start hot laps or recovering back to the pits at the end of stints.

Despite echoing his fellow drivers in praising the exhilarating nature of the Jeddah circuit to drive, Perez has serious concerns over the safety of the street circuit for racing.

“It’s a really, really nice circuit,” said Perez. “Very, very dangerous, though.

“There’s a lot of straights, but they are done with corners. Blind corners. I hope nothing happens tomorrow. I feel like it’s too dangerous without a real reason.”

Ahead of today’s race, Perez says he hopes that all 20 drivers can manage the 50 laps of the race without a major accident around the narrow but high-speed corners on the circuit.

“When you look at some of the onboards, it’s quite scary,” Perez said. “I really just hope that it goes through that we don’t see a big shunt out there.

“I just feel the track – it’s a bit too risky without a reason. With the speeds that we’re doing, with the deltas around the track from some of the cars, it’s a bit unnecessary.”

The Red Bull driver believes that the sport should come together after the race to discuss whether the nature of the Jeddah circuit is compromising safety too far.

“I think we cannot forget the fact that safety has to take priority,” Perez stressed. “I’ve spoken to some of the other drivers and we all kind of think it.

“We are the ones sitting in the car. The speed differences that you tend to see – if something goes wrong, it’s a massive one, you know? Sure, there’s a bit of track character, but it’s something that we’ve got to speak about after the race.

”The track is fantastic – don’t get me wrong. It’s a really nice, cool track to drive. I just feel like it’s very risky, the track. If things go wrong for someone, they can go really wrong.”

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2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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23 comments on “Perez fears ‘big shunt’ in first race on ‘very dangerous’ Jeddah track”

  1. And yet I doubt they will make any changes *unless* there is a big shunt

  2. Agree with Perez.

    The visibility of the track can be changed by modifying the walls. No need to change the track itself.

    It really is an easy – but one that can take time – fix in the grand scheme of things.

  3. Justin Jeffrey
    5th December 2021, 7:48

    The margins are tiny and imagine 2 cars competing for position with all those corners and concrete walls. It looks like a cool track but way too dangerous. I see the safety car being used for 50% of the race ( at least)

    1. 50%?! Once everyone is up to racing speed and lapping at +6s slower than quali, the biggest risk will be at the start… it is dangerous I believe , but practice and quali are the scariest bits

  4. There is so much praise for safety measures taken by FIA in last decades and then they do this. Indeed, it’s a nice track but so many blind corners it makes me wonder what was on their mind. I’m afraid we’re watching a disaster in the making.

  5. I fully agree with Perez on this one. The track is really nice but on the same time it’s quite obvious that there are 2-3 main safety issues that can create a massive crash.

    After watching yesterday’s second F2 race (which was really good overall), I just couldn’t feel comfortable watching cars going side by side, with DRS open, at the kink from 22-27. It felt like that any erratic maneuver there, would send the other car flying towards the inside wall at enormous speeds…

    I am also not sure, that in the extremely unlikely scenario of a rain affected race, the session would be able to happen (due to visibility issues).That’s a massive issue to have to a brand new, specifically built for F1, circuit….

  6. I would like to hear from that guy from the Tilke office that did that promoted article for racefans. Anyone watch the F2 sprint race 2? Liam Lawson crashed towards the end and luckily didn’t come to rest in the centre of the track otherwise he would have been t-boned by high speed oncoming cars.
    There is no excuse for this track design, I can have some sympathy for Spa being an existing circuit but this is awful reckless stuff it really is. We come back here in March remember.

    1. Good point @john-h; yeah I did, and I definitely agree with Perez, it’s great to see the cars threading through there, but at the same time it is clear they are one blind corner with a slow car behind it away from a major incident. FIA should really rethink their approval criteria IMO.

    2. Actually i am pretty sure this means we can get Peraltada back because all the Arguments made for having to change it are obviously just BS

  7. If F2 serves as any indication, today we will see several cars on the wall, cars trying to avoid debris at medium-high speed, and many laps of SC.

  8. All these warning signs, from driver feedback to very near misses, are starting to feel a bit ominous, yet they’re apparently going to be completely ignored in favour of the show.

    It feels like F1 dug itself into a hole with this circuit, and in particular the timescales to deliver it. Given that all the teams and their equipment had arrived in Jeddah by the time the circuit was officially improved, one does have to wonder whether the FIA compromised their standards to avoid cancelling the race and creating a complete farce.

    I truly hope we don’t see something horrific happen today.

  9. In a way F1 is starting to feel a bit like Group B. Safety is much better than the 80s but speeds have increased even more. We saw it with Grosjean last year with these cars a massive accident is just around the corner. I fear that today something can happen but I hope not.
    Before Group B was banned they were building Group S which was desinged to be even more radical than Group B. What I’m thinking about is these new 2022 cars can be harder to handle and if this year Jeddah doesn’t provide some horrific accident it just might happen next year.
    Somewhere there is the limit. Rally noticed it too late. I hope F1 doesn’t repeat that

  10. In case you missed it, Nico Rosberg’s position is clear: he’s really glad that he’s not driving on this track.

  11. The track was not designed like this by accident, blind corners and little to no run off. Makes for a track where drivers need to take more risks to get the results = more “action” more “thrills & spills”.
    Liberty’s promotional team will be licking their lips in anticipation of tomorrows race.

  12. I hope Verstappen doesn’t do some dirty last second block on another driver at 300kph.

  13. Jay (@slightlycrusty)
    5th December 2021, 11:55

    Got to admit I don’t like this track. I like scary tracks: Portimao is scary, the old Hockenheim was scary, but this is taking it too far. There’s no skill in driving at 300+km/h around blind corners with no run-off, that’s just rolling the dice. If you’re < 1s behind a car and it suffers a catastrophic failure on the exit of a blind corner, how are you meant to avoid it? You might not even see it until you've passed the apex. Fast circuits need run-offs (they don't need to be tarmac) and/or good visibility, and preferably both.

    I hope they at least fix the curbs if we race here in future, it seems possible to lose the car too easily at present. If you've got blind corners and no run-offs, having tricky curbs seems like a recipe for multi-car pile-ups. Singapore is an example of a well-designed street circuit: it's tricky and scary, but there are well placed run-offs and a lot of it is medium speed.

  14. I remember the same fears being expressed for the first Baku race.
    It turned out as a snoozefest, without even a Safety Car.

    1. Indeed but Baku has quite a lot of right angled corners that really slow the car down. There is the main straight and pit entry, but visibility is quite good in the high speed at least.

  15. They could solve the problem by introducing spotters into the equation. I’ve never understood why F1 doesn’t do that at potentially dangerous blind corners.

    Yet with all the track data the teams get, THEY should warn the driver, he’s approaching slower cars. They have that data! But they shouldn’t change the track much, if any imho

  16. The focus over Friday/Saturday was on the closing speeds when some cars were cruising around slowly while others were on hot laps which was something that could be dangerous but which could be managed by telling drivers to be sensible.

    My biggest concern is the race because most of the fastest sections are blind corners & if you have a group of cars fairly close together & somebody towards the front of that pack has an issue of some sort those behind are going to have very little change to avoid piling into it.

    And then you also have DRS on some sections that are again quite twisty & a bit blind & given the closing rates we have seen with DRS at times that does also concern me, Especially if you have 2 cars racing while also in amongst slower backmarkers. Somebody pulls out to pass with a massive speed difference with DRS just as a backmarker pulls out to let them past or something. It’s going to be harder for drivers to read that sort of stuff given how unsighted everything is for most of the track.

    1. On the final “straight” the speeds are such that it seems that you have only a couple seconds to see a car stopped or slow on the inside. Even watching on tv my eyes are pinned to the inside horizon of that wall looking for a 200 mph object coming toward the screen. The lack of options to respond makes me fear a Webber/kovalainen type crash.

  17. Why is the start finish straight so narrow. Completely needless. Just seen the F2 crash, I’m becoming livid at this track design.

    1. Just to reiterate, yes Monaco has a similar width but this is track specifically designed to be this way.

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