Saudi Arabia confirms track changes after safety complaints
The Saudi Arabia Grand Prix has revealed its planned changes ahead of this month’s race after drivers complained about the track’s safety.
The Jeddah Corniche Circuit hosted its first race last season but saw several interruptions including two red flags and multiple crashes.
George Russell said motorsport had “a lot to learn” in the aftermath of the race and called for changes to be made to make the track safer.
Those calls were heard and the race organisers have revealed their plans for alterations ahead of the upcoming race this month.
“It has already been confirmed that some minor tweaks will be made to the circuit to help improve driver sight lines from the cockpit by improving visibility in several of the circuit’s corners including Turns 2, 3, 14 and 21 where the barriers will be moved back between 1.5m and 2m,” a statement from race promoter Saudi Motorsport Company said.
<Likewise, the barrier on the right-hand side of Turn 27 will be moved back by around 1.5m to widen the track at this point. In all cases except Turn 27, the track limit/edge will remain the same.
“In addition, further modifications will also be made to Turns 4, 16, 22 and 24 after consultation with the drivers who requested a smoother barrier on the apex so that they can potentially brush it as they pass.
“To accommodate this, SMC is installing a steel plate which will effectively wrap around the concrete barriers given them the smooth surface they require to favour the lines the drivers take around the record-breaking course.”
It was the blind corners that caught many drivers out in last year’s grand prix with Russell being taken out by Nikita Mazepin coming out of Turn 2.
The incident came about when the Brit tried to avoid Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc, who had just clashed, only for Mazepin to drive into the rear of the Williams after the corner.
“It seemed pretty inevitable, you go around a 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,” Russell told Motorsport.com.
“I came around a blind corner, cars were everywhere, I slowed down and then got completely hit from behind.
“It’s an incredibly exhilarating and exciting track to drive but it’s lacking a lot from a safety perspective and a racing perspective.”
The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will be the second stop on this season’s calendar following the opener in Bahrain.
Last year’s event was won by Lewis Hamilton after numerous clashes with Drivers’ Championship title rival Max Verstappen.
Russell says accident was “inevitable"
The Saudi Arabian GP was not a positive one for Williams.