Changes made to Saudi track to improve visibility

Ben Johnston
Jeddah Corniche Circuit photographed at night. Saudi Arabia November 2021.

An aerial view of the new Formula 1 circuit in Saudi Arabia. Jeddah November 2021.

Saudi Arabia Grand Prix organisers have revealed that they made small changes to the Jeddah circuit ahead of its second event in order to improve visibility in the final sector.

The adjustments were introduced after a number of Formula 1 drivers raised concerns about the high-speed nature of the final sector of the 6.174km street circuit, which features the most number of corners of any circuit on the schedule with an official 27 turns.

The track played host to an extremely entertaining inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in December which was won by Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.

The concerns raised by the drivers surrounded the positioning of some of the barriers in the final sector which they felt obscured their visibility and as a result caused safety fears for the drivers.

Circuit safety has been one of the main topics of discussion for Formula 1 over the past year following Romain Grosjean’s high-speed crash during the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix where his Haas car was cut in two after striking an Armco barrier.

Grosjean’s crash is something that Formula 1 and motorsport, in general, do not want to see happen again.

Romain-Grosjean-PA
Guenther Steiner defends F1 over showing replays of Romain Grosjean's crash.

Speaking to Autosport about the changes, Jeddah circuit CEO, Martin Whitaker said: “We have been striving to improve on some areas for our second event.

“Firstly, there are going to be one or two slight changes to the track. We have been striving to improve on some areas for our second event.

“These tweaks are directly related to a drivers’ sight-line from the cockpit. It’s minimal work, but it will help improve forward visibility in a couple of corners.

“Secondly, we will make some small modifications to the barriers that will favour the lines the drivers take around the course.

“There are a couple of areas that we are working on to enhance the experience for the fans who return to the track in March.

“We are planning on shifting some of the angles of the grandstands to improve visibility and, at the same time, we plan to increase the size and develop the Fan Zones, which proved to be extremely popular.”

The Jeddah circuit was completed just a matter of weeks before the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and Whitaker stated: “We had to get the whole facility ready in a short space of time, but now with this small gap to our second race we are better placed to understand our limitations.

“Because of our location, we can’t change too much because the track is positioned on a narrow strip of land next to the sea, but we are certainly looking at the circuit’s entrance and exit.”

Whitaker concluded that the location of the circuit meant that they were working within tight parameters and he feels that they now have the time they need to rectify the problems from last season so that they don’t occur in 2022.

He added: “Due to the confines of the track’s location, traffic management was an issue and there were characteristics of the road system that created unnecessary delays.

“There are lessons we have learnt, and we have the time now to get these aspects resolved to make sure everyone who returns will have an equally good, if not better, experience.”

 

The 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is round two of the 2022 Formula 1 season and takes place from March 25-27.