Russell urges changes to make Jeddah track safer

Date published: December 5 2021 - Jon Wilde

George Russell gets into the medical car in Saudi Arabia. Jeddah December 2021.

George Russell has called for the Jeddah Corniche Circuit to be modified after crashing out of the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The Williams driver became caught up in an incident at the first of two restarts that also caused the retirements of Nikita Mazepin and Sergio Perez.

A collision between Perez and Charles Leclerc was the catalyst, the Red Bull sent into a spin which forced Russell to take avoiding action. As he did so, the Briton was hit from behind by Mazepin’s Haas.

Crashes had been feared and indeed confidently predicted before the first ever F1 race at this brand-new, lightning-fast street circuit next to the Red Sea, the construction of which was only recently completed.

Russell admitted he was unsurprised by what had unfolded and hopes changes can be made before the sport returns to Jeddah next March – by which time he will be racing for Mercedes.

“I think you live and learn from these experiences,” Russell told Autosport. “You can’t blame anyone for trying to make an incredible racetrack and ultimately, that’s what they achieved.

“But I think nobody foresaw what was about to happen with all of these blind corners.

“In my opinion, track changes are needed. You’ve got so many of these small kinks that are totally unnecessary.

“And that could all just be made into a straight line from Turn 2 to Turn 4 and just be straight from Turn 17 to 22. We’ve got five corners, which is a section that’s totally easy flat out, even with DRS.

“I don’t know what the limitations are, that also needs to be looked at. And ideally, if that was made into a straight line the safety would drastically improve.

“I think they have the resources to do it here so it shouldn’t be a limitation. Safety needs to come first.

“If you can improve the danger drastically with small changes, it’s a no-brainer.”

 

Of the incident that ended his race, Russell added: “It seemed pretty inevitable. You go around Turn 2 that’s fairly wide and open – cars can go side by side – and then it really funnels in and goes pretty narrow pretty fast.

“I came around a blind corner, cars were everywhere, I slowed down and then got completely hit from behind.

“So, a lot to learn I think for motorsport this weekend because it’s an incredibly exhilarating and exciting track to drive but it’s lacking a lot from a safety perspective and a racing perspective.

“And there are unnecessary incidents waiting to happen in all of these small kinks that are blind, which are not even corners in an F1 car but they just offer unnecessary danger.”