Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2021

FIA changes layout of Jeddah’s troublesome third DRS detection zone

2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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The third and final DRS detection point on the Jeddah Corniche Circuit has been moved for the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

During the first two years that Formula 1 visited the circuit, the detection point for the DRS zone on the pit straight was at the entrance to the final corner.

The location of the DRS zone has at times led to drivers adopting unusual tactics when fighting their rivals for position in an attempt to gain an advantage. As the first car to pass through the detection point risks giving the benefit of DRS to their rival in the following zone, drivers have at times backed off to ensure another car crosses the line first.

An notorious example of this occurred during the inaugural race at the circuit in 2021. Max Verstappen slowed drastically approaching the line after being instructed to hand his position to Lewis Hamilton due to a track limits breach. When the Mercedes driver hesitated to overtake him, not wanting to lose the benefit of DRS, Verstappen braked, causing contact between the pair.

Despite that the third DRS detection point was left in the same position for last year’s race, leading to some drivers adopting similar if less extreme tactics. This year, however, it has been moved to the exit of the final corner.

The activation point for the zone remains in the same place and the circuit’s other two DRS zones are unchanged. The supporting Formula 2 series will use the same three DRS zones.

The FIA has confirmed minor revisions to the track layout have resulted in its official length increasing by one metre, to 6.175 kilometres. Turn 22 has been tightened following several high-speed crashes at the corner, while other alterations have been made to improve visibility and increase the amount of run-off for the drivers.

Jeddah Corniche Circuit track map, 2021
Jeddah Corniche Circuit track map

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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14 comments on “FIA changes layout of Jeddah’s troublesome third DRS detection zone”

  1. Can’t wait to see how much of the extra room provided by the changes to the concrete barriers is going to be eaten up by drivers taking tighter lines, given the largely painted-on nature of the “curbs” on this track.

  2. I can see the DRS detection point been at the exit of the final corner just discouraging drivers from even trying to overtake into turn 27 given how powerful the DRS zone on the main straight has shown itself to be.

    Why bother pulling off an overtake if your just going to get driven by while been completely defenceless on the next straight.

    The ‘racing’ is just all very contrived nowadays sadly, There’s no real pure wheel to wheel racing and very little actual overtaking to get excited about as it’s all down to tires designed to artificially degrade faster to try and artificially force more pit stops or down to the artificial gimmick flappy wing.

    Yes these things pad the passing statistics but it’s just all quantity over quality based on the false assumption that more means better when in reality a car pushing a button and easily cruising past a car ahead that is utter defenceless isn’t actually all that exciting.

    I’d much rather see fewer proper overtakes that are exciting to watch and stick in the mind long term rather than just seeing a lot more passing that’s quite dull to watch and quickly forgotten. The move Alonso pulled on Hamilton in Bahrain for example was great and is something we will remember, But how many of the DRS creates boringness will we remember?

    Thats the problem with modern ‘racing’ it all feels rather fake and very little of it really stands out to be remembered because it’s all aimed at giving people instant gratification rather than exciting memorable moments as we used to see in the past when the sport was more important than the show.

    1. Drivers will indeed still hesitate – just a little further down the track. This was a great excuse to ditch the start/finish DRS zone altogether. The second zone brings the cars into a corner where aerodynamic disturbance is not a big factor, and allows the drivers to set up a real overtake on the start/finish straight into Turn 1.

  3. A detection point after a corner is better than before, but an even better location for that would be earlier on the backstretch, like somewhere between T25 & 26 or around the former.
    Good thing all three activation zone starting points & thus, lengths have remained unchanged.
    Given that the barriers have been moved rather than T22 & 23 themselves altered in angle, I don’t get how the track length can increase by a meter.

    1. Bevelled curbs at T22 & 23 to be precise.

      1. I forgot to add at the time that the first activation zone is still uselessly short.

  4. Anyone know why the track is called Jeddah Corniche Circuit when the track is not a corniche? There’s the coast side section around turns 25 and 26 but there ain’t no corniche.

    1. The whole recreational/tourism area of which the circuit is but a part is known as the Jeddah Corniche.

    2. Ryan Mitchell-Smith
      16th March 2023, 4:03

      Oh I think it is because there is a bakery between those corners. I believe their specialty is Corniche Pasties. ;)

      Reply moderated
  5. I actually liked the tactics drivers adopted to not give DRS to the following car. Max vs Leclerc and Lewis vs Max trying to outfox each other in the detection zone was probably the highlight of the races in the last two years. It was interesting to see DRS being used as something other than a push to pass mechanism.

    Having said that, I’m not surprised the FIA decided to change the DRS detection zone. If its fun for the viewers.. It’s probably broken.

    1. @todfod I agree & while moving the detection point was wise, having it after the corner most likely won’t change anything as drivers will probably still adopt the same tactics to avoid being ahead on the line, i.e., not attempting to overtake into the last corner. We’ll see.

    2. It’s a safety change though isn’t it. Drivers braking to let the guy behind through could result in a crash. (ie max vs Lewis)

  6. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
    16th March 2023, 9:16

    I’m finding it rather sad that we are still talking about DRS tactics, configuration, pros and cons.

    With the rule changes last year I thought we might be rid of DRS or at least see it much less used. But No. Very depressing. As you may of guessed I despise DRS. It shouldn’t be needed. Overtaking used to be an art, defending used to be an art. Yes DRS was an answer to a problem.. it was just the wrong answer.

    Surely F1 should be trying out some races without DRS?

    Any thoughts anyone, on what circuit would be best for such a trial?

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