2023 Saudi Arabian GP: Safety improved following ‘significant changes’

Mick Schumacher crashed heavily at both the 2021 and 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, amid concerns about the safety of the circuit.

Presumably to the drivers’ delight, a promoter for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix has confirmed that the Jeddah Corniche Circuit has successfully undergone a number of changes, to make the circuit much safer.

Since debuting towards the climax of 2021, the Saudi Arabian GP has been one of the most action-packed on the calendar, with Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen having famously collided in 2021, whilst Verstappen and Charles Leclerc endured a brilliant fight earlier this year.

Whilst the racing has been undeniably exciting and thrilling to watch, due to the street circuit’s immense speed, the questionable layout has made for some difficult viewing.

The two completed Saudi Arabian Grand Prix have seen huge crashes.

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Mick Schumacher crashed heavily in 2021 causing a red flag, before another red flag was flown moments after the race restarted following a scary collision involving Sergio Pérez, George Russell and Nikita Mazepin.

Schumacher crashed heavily again at the circuit earlier in the year, where his Haas broke in half.

Whilst the political safety can’t be quickly fixed, changes to the circuit have been made around almost every corner.

Rumble lines have been added at Turns 3, 14, 19, 20 & 21, which effectively provide a rough surface similar to when a driver exceeds track limits, meaning the racers won’t be as close to the walls.

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Turns 4, 8, 10, 11, 17 & 23 have seen the old metal kerbs replaced with bevelled ones, whilst the fences have been moved back at Turns 14 & 20 to improve visibility and safety.

Turns 22 & 23 have also undergone substantial change, with that part of the circuit having actually been somewhat tightened to force drivers to slow down, something which should reduce the chance of the rear snapping like it did for Schumacher in 2021.

Chief executive of the Saudi Motorsport Company Martin Whitaker explained why the changes were made and how “excited” they are to announce the completion of the adjustments.

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“The evolution of the circuit continues apace, and we are excited to add these further tweaks to our magnificent track as a result of positive consultation with the FIA, F1 and the drivers,” said Whitaker.

“The previous two races here in Jeddah have already confirmed the JCC as the world’s fastest and most exciting street circuit and these new developments will only add to the spectacle that fans can expect to see next March when F1 returns to our city.

“It is vital for any circuit to listen and learn from those racing on it and use their feedback to grow and improve at all times.

“We are confident these changes will lead to even faster, more exciting and – crucially – safe racing and we can’t wait to see the world’s greatest drivers battle it out here under the lights again in 2023.”