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F1 drivers think Jeddah safety changes made little difference

Formula 1 drivers say changes to the Jeddah circuit have made little difference to the issue of traffic, which has been a problem since the first race at the venue.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23

Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

The high-speed nature of the track, with a series of flat out bends, means that drivers sometimes come across a rival who is touring round on an out-lap or in-lap and doesn’t have the time or space to get out of the way.

There were several close calls in Friday’s practice sessions, and things are only likely to get more intense in Saturday’s qualifying showdown.

The subject was discussed in Friday evening's drivers' briefing.

Changes to the track have opened up sightlines in some places, but they appear not to have made a huge difference.

Drivers always rely on their engineers for radio updates on approaching fast cars, and that is even more important in Jeddah than at other venues.

“Here, if you have a slow car and a car on a hot lap, the closing speed is crazy,” said Nico Hulkenberg when asked about the issue by Autosport. “And in the blind corners here, with everything that's going on, it's a bit tricky sometimes.

"We've just got to be very active and reactive. It's a very dynamic radio communication on an out-lap. You basically should keep the line open, because cars keep coming through at a very fast pace."

Drivers have said it's still tricky for them to watch out for traffic on blind, high-speed corners

Drivers have said it's still tricky for them to watch out for traffic on blind, high-speed corners

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Hulkenberg suggested that the track changes hadn’t made much difference to the overall lap.

"I mean, only really Turn 22 I feel is changed,” said the German. “They've tightened it up, slowed it down. And then there's one corner where the wall is [moved] back. But the rest is very similar.

“Obviously kerbs they've adjusted, we don't have these kerbs that beach cars anymore. The one out of Turn 10 is quite aggressive, it's a bit higher now. It's like climbing Mount Everest a bit with these cars!"

Hulkenberg’s team-mate Kevin Magnussen said that moving the walls has had some impact on the traffic issue.

"Well, in that regard, the walls being further away is a bit better,” said the Dane. “You can see further back in your mirrors, but it's still not very far. So, sometimes if your engineer isn't telling you, then it's a bit tricky.

"You're still looking at mirrors, so at the end of the day, you can still see three, four seconds behind, which isn't a lot. But there's still time enough to sort of get out the way."

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