Could the mayhem at the 2021 Jeddah Street Circuit have taught the organisers a lesson? Changes are being made to make the track ‘safer’.
The 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix can be described in two words: Absolute chaos. Two more words can be used: Red Flags. The hastily built Jeddah Street Circuit had its fair share of issues. Now, it will host the second race of the 2022 season.
Despite the multiple stoppages and Virtual Safety Cars, it was one of the most entertaining races the 2021 season produced.
While many drivers said they found the track ‘exhilarating’, they also made sure to point out that it was equally dangerous. George Russell claimed that the track was “lacking a lot from a safety perspective and a racing perspective.”
Now, reports are coming in that the concerns of the drivers have been taken into consideration. Saudi officials have confirmed that several minor tweaks will be made to the track to make it safer. This will be hopefully finished before the race on 27th March 2022.
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These tweaks will address the visibility issues that drivers have complained about. The barriers at Turns 2,3,14 and 21 will be moved back between 1.5-2 meters. Even the barrier at Turn 27 will be moved back.
Surely Red Bull’s Max Verstappen would be happy to hear this particular news. It was this barrier that ended his hopes for a pole position in the Saudi GP in the final moments of qualifying.
Changes to the Jeddah Street Circuit
Saudi Motorsport Company, the group charged with the responsibility of overseeing the changes hopes to improve the ‘raceability’ of the Jeddah Street Circuit.
Drivers complained that they were not able to make passes at several turns because of the harsh barriers. The officials have taken this to note and thus plan on making necessary changes.
“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,” said a promoter from the group.
SMC CEO Martin Whitaker confessed they learned a lot from what went down in the recent Saudi GP. “The length of time between the two races enabled us to reflect on some aspects that did and didn’t work.”
The track received widespread criticism online for its lack of safety for the drivers. Still, the best people to gauge it would be the drivers themselves according to Whitaker.
“There are a lot of street courses that have tight and slow 90-degree bends. But the fast speeds of Jeddah and flowing corners enabled the drivers to really attack the circuit.
“In the race, there was also plenty of overtaking and drama with just the one particular corner catching a couple of the drivers out.”
Whether or not the changes being made will be a success is yet to be seen. Formula 1 returns with the first race on March 20th in Bahrain.