Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2022

Safety changes to Jeddah F1 track are “tiny” and will make little difference – drivers

2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Formula 1 drivers say changes made to the Jeddah Corniche Circuit to improve safety ahead of this weekend’s race will make little difference.

The second-quickest track on the F1 calendar won some praise from drivers when it held its first race last year. However some also raised concerns about the poor visibility in several of its high-speed corners.

The race organisers agreed to make a series of changes to improve the sight lines through several corners. But three drivers who spoke to media after inspecting the track on Thursday expressed doubts over whether they will make a noticeable difference.

“I don’t know if it will be so significant that we will see a completely different situation,” championship leader Charles Leclerc said in response to a question from RaceFans. “From one year to another it can be very different.

“It depends on how much traffic we have and this often depends not only on the track but also on the drivers. This we’ll have to wait and see. But I don’t see the changes made doing a huge difference to the scenario of last year.”

“It’s going in the right direction, but I don’t think it’s enough,” Leclerc added. “Especially in the last part of the track, from what I’ve seen.

“But the first part from turn four to turn 12 it didn’t change much what was probably the most critical part. Let’s see tomorrow how it feels in the car but I don’t think it’s a massive change.”

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The FIA confirmed changes have been made at nine of the track’s 27 corners. Barriers have been moved back at turns two, three, 14 and 21; other barriers at turns four, 16, 22 and 24 have been rounded to improve visibility and the circuit has been widened at the exit of the final corner.

Jeddah Corniche Circuit track map, 2021
Track data: Jeddah Corniche Circuit
But Haas driver Mick Schumacher, who suffered a heavy crash during last year’s race which caused one of two red flag periods, described the alterations as “very minor.”

“Still some of the corners that we have could have been just a straight,” he said. “It would have been easier, just less numbers also to remember. I think that it’s something that will probably evolve with time.”

The track is holding its second race just four months after the first. The race promoters said last month there had not been enough time to make all of the alterations suggested by the FIA.

Carlos Sainz Jnr said the modest extent of the changes showed the drivers need to continue making representations to the sport’s governing body to improve the track.

“I was commenting with Charles that they just moved the wall but the driving line will still be close to the wall. Which means our visibility doesn’t improve.

“Which for me just shows that we need to keep making this relationship with the FIA tighter, better because we expected a step in the right direction. In my opinion, this is not much better. It’s marginally, very small, tiny bit smallest ever better.”

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2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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19 comments on “Safety changes to Jeddah F1 track are “tiny” and will make little difference – drivers”

  1. Personally I also found this track too dangerous to be honest. A lot of blind very fast corners, some preceded by straights. If a car spins, the following car has very little time, if any, to take avoiding action. It’s a narrow track lined with high walls, which doesn’t help with visibility. It made for uncomfortable watching last time around I personally think it needs a general re think…

    1. @pmccarthy_is_a_legend
      A general re-think would be slightly pointless, as next season’s SA GP will be the last in Jeddah.

      1. No, contract hast been/will be extended.

        1. @zomtec I didn’t mean event contract, but location. Apparently, until 2025 now than next year anymore.

    2. I also think it is too dangerous.

  2. I agree with everyone, especially with Mick. The T17-T22 section could merely be a straight line until 22.
    At least 3, 11 (this would automatically eliminate 12), & 15 curves are also possible for elimination.
    Others, like 14, might be more impractical, but the ones mentioned above would be enough.

  3. It’s Saudi Arabia. They can put walls full of spikes pointing to the track and the FIA is going to approve it.

    1. Yeah. Not sure if anyone saw photos from construction of the track but it looked like safety wasn’t of much concern then either.

  4. I think the fact everyone seems to be having the same conversation means there is an issue. After Hubert’s death, Raidillon was changed, but largely not discussed prior to 2016 and Magnussen and then Aitken. COTA’s bumps are something I think we’re casual about because it’s seen as a challenge and the track is about as safe as you can get (Abbie Eaton and sausage curbs aside, but those things are nearly everywhere and probably a separate issue).

    If someone got hurt at Jeddah, I think it’d put the FIA, Liberty and the promoters in a tough spot. Many people have expressed concerns about the sheer blindness of it. It’s perhaps true that Monaco will be just as blind, but the speeds are nowhere the same.

    I do like the track, and it’s probably it’s last year. But for so many to say it’s a bit silly, then it probably is a bit silly. I don’t think I’m pushing it too far to say the Nordschleife would be safer, at least you can see what you’re approaching more than half a second before you arrive.

    We love to see drivers pushed to the limit. But to do so when it seems most are saying this is dangerous, comes across as reckless.

    1. @bernasaurus Jeddah will still be the SA GP location based on the most recent info on Qiddiya’s completion time.
      However, I see your concerns about Jeddah Corniche Circuit’s safety, even if I’m not overly pessimistic.

      1. @bernasaurus ‘the SA GP location next year’

    2. It’s sad to see Radaillon getting nerfed while the new Jeddah track is even more dangerous. It makes it seem that F1 and the FIA are either incompetent or purely reactive and will need a close call, injury, or fatality to make a change.

  5. Bizarre that the FIA can request alterations but still give the race the go ahead without them all being made. We were fortunate to get away without injuries last year. I feel like F1 is pushing it’s luck here…

  6. The fact that it was approved in the first place shows the lack of concern for the safety of drivers. The desire to have ‘spectacular’ racing was the key element in its design.

  7. it is a shockingly bad circuit. So many blind corners it makes TV viewing unpleasant. There are no crowds and the entire circuit is without atmosphere. It would make more sense to host a track in a Hollywood studio with background CGI than having it at the Jeddah track.

  8. But they’re moving the barrier that Verstappen crashed into so that’s all good, right? ;-)

  9. So ridiculous that this track was approved yet some amazing classic American tracks like Road America, Watkins Glen or Laguna Seca would never even be considered.

    I feel F1 was just lucky at this track last year and we know luck eventually runs out when you play silly games…

  10. If this track is on the calendar, then I dont want to hear anyone say that any of the classic circuits are “dangerous” or “need to be changed because they are not safe”.

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