Tweaks for 2022 could make Saudi Arabia F1 track even faster

Changes made to the Saudi Arabia Formula 1 circuit in Jeddah could make it even faster thanks to an improvement of sightlines and a widening of the final corner.

Jeddah Street Circuit corner 2 and 3 detail
Jeddah Street Circuit corner 2 and 3 detail
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Photo by: Motorsport Images

Jeddah Street Circuit corner 2 and 3 detail
Jeddah Street Circuit corner 2 and 3 detail
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Jeddah Street Circuit corner 2 and 3 detail
Jeddah Street Circuit corner 2 and 3 detail
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Jeddah Street Circuit corner 2 and 3 detail
Jeddah Street Circuit corner 2 and 3 detail
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Jeddah Street Circuit corner 2 and 3 detail
Jeddah Street Circuit corner 2 and 3 detail
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Photo by: Motorsport Images

Jeddah Street Circuit corner 2 and 3 detail
Jeddah Street Circuit corner 2 and 3 detail
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Jeddah Street Circuit corner 2 and 3 detail
Jeddah Street Circuit corner 2 and 3 detail
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Jeddah Street Circuit last corner detail
Jeddah Street Circuit last corner detail
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Photo by: Motorsport Images

Jeddah Street Circuit last corner detail
Jeddah Street Circuit last corner detail
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Jeddah Street Circuit last corner detail
Jeddah Street Circuit last corner detail
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Jeddah Street Circuit last corner detail
Jeddah Street Circuit last corner detail
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Jeddah Street Circuit last corner detail
Jeddah Street Circuit last corner detail
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Jeddah Street Circuit last corner detail
Jeddah Street Circuit last corner detail
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Jeddah Street Circuit last corner detail
Jeddah Street Circuit last corner detail
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Jeddah Street Circuit last corner detail
Jeddah Street Circuit last corner detail
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Jeddah Street Circuit last corner detail
Jeddah Street Circuit last corner detail
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Jeddah Street Circuit last corner detail
Jeddah Street Circuit last corner detail
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Jeddah Street Circuit last corner detail
Jeddah Street Circuit last corner detail
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Jeddah Street Circuit last corner detail
Jeddah Street Circuit last corner detail
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Photo by: Motorsport Images

Saudi Arabia hosted its first F1 race in December at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, which drew both praise and criticism from drivers and fans.

A number of drivers reported issues with the sightlines around the track. GPDA chairman and then-Williams driver George Russell told Autosport the circuit was "lacking a lot from a safety perspective and a racing perspective".

Ahead of its second grand prix at the end of this month, officials in Jeddah confirmed in January they would be making tweaks to the track in reaction to the drivers' feedback.

The only change in the actual profile of a corner has taken place at Turn 27, which has been widened by 1.5 metres at the exit. It was here where Max Verstappen clipped the wall at the end of Q3, denying him pole after a lap up to that point that won acclaim from other drivers.

A number of the corners have also had steel plates installed to create shoulders that should allow the cars to kiss the barriers more in places without damaging the cars.

Martin Whitaker, the CEO of the Saudi Motorsport Company, thought the changes would all add up to make the circuit even faster. Last year's average speed for pole position in qualifying was 157mph.

"The footprint of the circuit remains the same, apart from Turn 27," Whitaker said. "We've just moved some of the barriers back a little bit in certain areas so it improves the sightline through that corner.

"It could make [the lap] a little bit quicker, one imagines, if it's not fast enough already. Most of the changes have effectively been done this year. I think we've effected between seven and 10 of the changes they were looking for. The rest will take a little bit longer.

Jeddah Street Circuit last corner detail

Jeddah Street Circuit last corner detail

Photo by: Motorsport Images

"For example, the sightline on the inside of Turn 23/24 is a bigger task, and we just didn't have the time to do that. That's one area where I think the FIA race director can help in terms of telling the driver to be wary when they're going through, or not to slow down there when on a qualifying lap."

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Whitaker explained there were "12 or 15 points around the circuit" that the FIA and F1 had asked the promoter to take a look at, chiefly focusing on sightlines, ahead of this year's race.

"The speed of the circuit is such that drivers were arriving very quickly on slower cars," Whitaker said. "I think the main issue there was not so much the race, but more in qualifying, where you've got cars backing off to take advantage of a decent lap.

"The FIA can do things about them obviously, because in the drivers' briefing they can tell people they can't slow down in certain corners or around certain areas.

"But predominantly, it was felt much better for us as the promoter and the organisers of the circuit to look at what we could do."

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