Drivers call for changes to ‘most dangerous’ Jeddah circuit

Date published: March 27 2022 - Michelle Foster

Mick Schumacher wrecked Haas VF-22. Saudi Arabia March 2022

Sergio Perez has labelled the Jeddah Corniche Circuit the “most dangerous place” on the calendar while Carlos Sainz asks: is it worth it?

Saturday night’s qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was red flagged on two occasions.

Nicholas Latifi was the first to crash, the Williams driver into the barriers at Turn 13 in Q1. However, the worst was yet to come.

Pushing for a spot inside the top-ten, Mick Schumacher had a high-speed crash when he went nose-first into the barriers on the exit of Turn 10.

Such was the impact that his Haas VF-22 split in two, momentum carrying the car down the track to Turn 12 before it came to a rest.

The German was airlifted to hospital for precautionary checks but thankfully escaped without injury although he won’t take part in Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

His rivals have called for changes to be made to the Jeddah circuit.

“I think it’s definitely the most dangerous place in the calendar, that’s no secret about it,” said pole-sitter Sergio Perez.

“It really demands a lot from the drivers, from the cars, from the teams. If you get it wrong, it can be a huge accident.

“I don’t know if there’s something we can do into Turn 22/23 because it’s a really high-speed section.

“It’s more [dangerous] in the race, but I think it’s the same, after qualifying the last thing I want to think about is the track.”

The rear of Mick Schumacher's shattered Haas. Saudi Arabia March 2022

Carlos Sainz wonders if it is worth it given that small changes, such as pushing the walls further back, could prevent big accidents.

“Here if you crash,” said the Ferrari driver, “it hurts a bit more than in other places in the calendar because the walls are closer and the speed is higher.

“As drivers, we’re very confident here, because we know the safety of the cockpit is very high and when you see incidents like Mick’s, gives us a bit of tranquillity that at those speeds the car is protected because the FIA has done a great job in giving us very safe cockpits.

“But at the same time, is it really worth it having that huge accident when you could maybe hopefully push the walls a bit further out and it would give us a bit more space to slow down the car if we lose it?

“It’s a discussion that we need to have because it’s probably a bit on the limit.”

McLaren driver Lando Norris reckons another change that should be made it to the kerb that Schumacher clipped, resulting his high-speed crash.

Earlier in the weekend F2 driver Cem Bolukbasi hit the same kerb, also suffering a huge crash that left him with a concussion.

 

“I think with this era of cars, with how you have to run them and how they’re designed, some kerbs throughout the year might need to change, and I think this kerb is one of them,” said Norris.

“It was very evident from Formula 2 because in Formula 2 you have to run the cars very low as well. And there was two crashes and Cem was in hospital.

“I think just with these type of cars you can’t have such an aggressive kerb at such a speed that we’re running at. I think what makes it worse is how it’s angled to come back and then curves around and you just get a little bit wrong and it can be a big incident like we saw.

“It needs to be edited and changed a bit because especially in a race situation, if you’re following or you just get a bit of understeer because of the dirty air and so on, through no fault of your own, you can just get caught out and with the car and how it is and the kerb, it can easily end up in a bad place. So I think they need to change it.”