Mick Schumacher, Haas, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2021

Corner tightened at Jeddah circuit in package of changes to improve safety

2023 F1 season

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The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix promoters have confirmed a raft of further changes to the Jeddah Corniche Circuit ahead of Formula 1’s return next year.

The high-speed street circuit has been subject to criticism from drivers and paddock figures during its first two events held in 2021 and 2022. The circuit attained FIA Grade One accreditation just weeks before its inaugural grand prix, but drivers including Carlos Sainz Jnr and Lando Norris were critical over what they perceived as unnecessary levels of danger produced by its combination of high speeds, close barriers and blind turns.

After the inaugural race weekend was marred by a series of crashes, event organisers made minor adjustments to the circuit for 2022. However, both Mick Schumacher and Formula 2 racer Cem Bolukbasi were taken to hospital after suffering heavy crashes into the wall. Sergio Perez described Jeddah as “definitely the most dangerous place in the calendar.”

Jeddah will host the second round of the 2023 F1 season in March. Race promoters have announced more extensive track changes to address drivers’ concerns.

Barriers have been moved to improve vision at turn 14…
The barriers lining turn 14 – the full-throttle bend after the 180-degree banked hairpin of turn 13 – and turn 20 have been pushed back by seven-and-a-half metres and five metres, respectively. The walls at turn eight and turn ten – where Schumacher and Bolukbasi’s crashes occurred – have also been adjusted to improve driver sightlines into the corner.

The fast kink of turns 22 and 23 – where Schumacher crashed during the inaugural 2021 race, prompting a stoppage – will be modified and made tighter with the aim of reducing cornering speeds by around 50kph relative to how cars have previously been taking them. Finally, special adhesive strips will be laid down on the outside of many of the circuit’s corners, which will cause cars to vibrate if driven over. This is intended to deter drivers from running too close to the extremities of the circuit and the barriers in a bid to gain time.

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The Saudi Motorsport Company’s chief executive Martin Whitaker says the track changes will improve the quality of racing at the venue as well as make it safer for drivers.

…and turn 20
“The evolution of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit continues apace and we are excited to add these further tweaks to our magnificent track as a result of positive consultation with the FIA, F1 and the drivers,” Whitaker said.

“It is vital for any circuit to listen and learn from those racing on it and use their feedback to grow and improve at all times. We are confident these changes will lead to even faster, more exciting and, crucially, safe racing and we can’t wait to see the world’s greatest drivers battle it out here under the lights again in 2023.”

Last weekend, the circuit hosted the FIA’s World Touring Car Cup around a shortened variant of the track which cut from turn four across to turn 20 on the grand prix layout.

The 2023 race will be the third in a 15-year deal for Formula 1 to race in Saudi Arabia. The 2022 edition of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was marred by a missile attack on an oil plant 10 kilometres from the circuit that took place during the opening practice session, leading to drivers calling for an emergency meeting with Formula 1 and the FIA which ran until the early hours of Saturday morning. The race weekend continued with no further incident.

Jeddah Corniche Circuit track map, 2021
Track data: Jeddah Corniche Circuit

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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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17 comments on “Corner tightened at Jeddah circuit in package of changes to improve safety”

  1. The safest thing to do would be to race somewhere else. Or do we need to wait until the missiles actually hit the track?

    1. Agreed! And for all the FIA’s talk about how racing there will promote discussions that result in improved human rights, we have yet to see any substantive movement. In fact, it appears things are as bad as ever. A woman sentenced in 2022 to 34 years in prison for twitter use is really showing the world just how effective the FIA has been at producing change. /s

  2. I’m still not a fan of their purely painted-on “curbs” in the corners.

    Why have those at all? Why not put something with at least some z-height there if you want to keep the drivers from hugging the inner wall?

  3. It’s still an awful track just like the other recent ‘street’ circuits.

    It’s an utterly soul-less venue that is devoid of any real character.

    And the amount of safety based changes that have needed to be made highlight not just how bad the track is but also how rushed onto the calendar it was as well as how big a joke the alleged circuit checks by the FIA were when they signed it off in 2021. Just proves that it’s more about money than hosting races on suitable circuits in countries that actually have a history with the sport.

    It’s pathetic that they race on this abomination when you have places with a rich Motorsport legacy that has no race at all with much better circuits than this monstrosity just sitting idle.

    But in the money show over sport era that will drag the whole sport down i guess liberty don’t care as long as some oil rich government throws the millions at them to host a race on a awful flat, featureless, boring, soul-less ribbon of DRS infested tarmac.

    1. Quite right. Really highlights the reckless unprofessionalism in the original circuit approval.

      Turns out money doesn’t just trump class and integrity; it trumps safety.

  4. At least the T22-23 changes are only a different fence placement & bevelled curb with the actual turning angles remaining unchanged.
    Several other corners will also receive bevelled curbs, Btw.

  5. Glad they’re making small changes to improve safety. This is my favourite track to join the calendar in a long time so fingers crossed they keep it safe while maintaining the challenge of high speed and low run off.

    1. I don’t understand the complaints about this one either. It is very unique and a track that provides a lot of action. I am sorry it is only a temporary circuit.

    2. It’s all untrue fans who only care about side by side racing every lap and no interest in the fun of driving the track or watching the onboards taking those corners at high speed and nice flow. All not real F1 fans. They are the ones who will suggest putting Las Vegas rather than keeping Suzuka just because the latter gives poor races and that Las Vegas will give side by side battles every lap but with the most horrific and disgusting track layout in the sport.

    3. A pity is it where it is, F1 has no business to go there. But the circuit itself, I like it a lot. It is what Monaco should be.

  6. This article, again, gives the impression that that there is not a full code for track safety, perhaps a few suggestions on angles, velocities, barrier & run-off types. It all seems to be a bit qualitative even when drivers find it ‘not good enough’ as at T14.
    There might be a lot of leeway for these ‘temporary’ street circuits, but why isn’t there even a permanent circuit design code available on the FIA library?
    After all there is a complete dossier on the F1 car!

    1. why isn’t there even a permanent circuit design code available on the FIA library?

      Because the FIA don’t design circuits – they only approve them for competition.

      After all there is a complete dossier on the F1 car!

      Exactly, and F1 cars are now pretty much all identical as a result.

      Is that really what you want from the circuits too?

  7. I criticized a lot this track, but I’ve to say that is quite unique, is super fast and the layout is not so bad as I thought, I’ve to admid. But the safety on this track is ridiculous, F1 should not race here. I hope will not a big crash the cause of stopping race here, because F1 can’t race here

  8. Good they’re making some changes. My first thought above anything else when I first saw this track’s layout was “This is a huge accident waiting to happen”. I feel like they’ve just been lucky the first races there have been relatively clean so nothing serious has happened.

  9. Still a potential death trap on AND off the circuit!

  10. some racing fan
    29th November 2022, 8:32

    The circuit and the country are both way too dangerous- the circuit is easily the most dangerous on the calendar. The circuit would be great if it were a permanent circuit without those walls so close- and I wouldn’t want to think about potential missile strikes while I’m racing, and if that isn’t bad enough it’s in a totalitarian country with an atrocious human rights record.

  11. A lot of the usual complaints about this circuit – but just imagine for a moment that Monaco was to be introduced to F1 for the first time now….

    It’s always worth remembering that any driver who complains about track safety need only slow down. Or find something else to do with their life.

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