Jeddah Street Circuit
Jeddah Street Circuit
The Jeddah Corniche Circuit is the home of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, which is the second race on the 2024 F1 calendar. The race takes place at night on a street circuit around the port city and runs along the banks of the Red Sea.
Jeddah has been on the F1 schedule since 2021, and the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is set to remain on the calendar until at least the end of 2030. There are however plans to move the grand prix to a new venue in the massive entertainment city in Qiddiya, near Riyadh, once construction is complete.
The estimated date for the completion of the Qiddiya circuit is 2027 with plans to host either an F1 race or a MotoGP race on the track that year. The Jeddah Corniche Circuit will host the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix until the opening of the new track.
Jeddah Corniche Circuit information
The Jeddah Corniche Circuit was designed by F1 track designer Carsten Tilke, son of Hermann Tilke, the latter of which designed the Sepang International Circuit, Bahrain International Circuit, Shanghai International Circuit and many others.
The street circuit has 27 corners and is the third-longest track on the F1 calendar behind Spa-Francorchamps and the Las Vegas Strip Circuit.
There are three DRS zones on the 6.174 km (3.836 miles) circuit.
Jeddah Corniche Circuit history
The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was finally added to the F1 calendar following years of the country's associations with the sport. The country has been involved in F1 as far back as the late 1970s with the national airline, Saudia, sponsoring the Williams team. In 2020, Saudi Aramco, an integrated energy and chemicals company, became a long-term global sponsor for F1.
A Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was announced in 2019 with plans for a brand-new purpose-built circuit to be constructed in Qiddiya, however, in November 2020, Jeddah was revealed to be the home for the race while construction took place.
A design team used Google Earth to explore Jeddah and find areas that could be suitable for a circuit. Using the satellite imagery, several mock-ups were produced, and simulation models were tested ahead of a visit to the site.
The Corniche area of Jeddah was selected to be the home of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Located 12km north of the centre of Jeddah, the area had a mix of car parks, open spaces and lagoons which made it perfect for a great-looking race. The reclaimed land has long, sweeping roads which the team felt would make a unique street circuit, as well as being able to be constructed in a short period of time, ahead of the race in late 2021.
Ross Brawn, F1 Managing Director, Motorsport said: “The site on the Corniche in Jeddah stood out. It’s on the coast, so we have great panorama but more importantly, we’ve been able to build a really exciting street circuit.”
The Tilke team were selected as the promoter after working on several F1 circuits. The team then designed the track alongside F1’s Motorsport team, with the main design being created by Carsten Tilke.
When discussing ideas for the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Brawn said: “What we want to see is a race circuit. We don’t want Mickey Mouse circuits. We don’t want those old classic street circuits with 90 degree turns. We want fast sweeping circuits, circuits which are going to challenge the drivers – and they are going to love it – and we want circuits where we can have wheel to wheel racing.”.
Construction started in Jeddah with just over eight months before the first F1 race was set to take place. 3,000 on-site contractors were brought in from 50 countries to make sure the Jeddah Corniche Circuit was ready for its debut.
Most of the construction was finished just ahead of the debut race, although some facilities were not completed until the following year. It was decided that the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix would take place at night, with HRH Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al Faisal, President of the Saudi Automobile and Motorsport Federation saying: “Night race adds a special touch. We think it’s the best option for us. We’re going to light the Red Sea and the lagoons around the track – and do some light shows. We had our first night race in FE (Formula E) and it was a success.
“In Saudi Arabia, we don’t have cooler weather so we can’t do a lot of things during day, so people in our region like to go out more at night.”
The Jeddah Corniche Circuit was dubbed the “fastest street circuit in the world” but gained a mixed reaction from drivers and pundits concerned about the safety of the race. Damon Hill told the F1 Nation podcast: “I’m a bit worried about the speed. I mean, there’s not much run-off. They’ve got the SAFER barrier that they’re using, which is like they do in Indianapolis, but it’s gonna be very high speed and not much run-off. So [it’s] high risk, high jeopardy. That always gets your attention as a racing driver.”
Jeddah Corniche Circuit debut race
The first F1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix took place on 5 December 2021. The race was filled with action between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, who were both fighting for the world championship.
During the heated battle, the Mercedes driver crashed into the back on the Red Bull on the straight. Verstappen had slowed to let Hamilton past in hopes of avoiding a penalty from the stewards, as conversations took place over an off-track defence on Lap 37. The Dutch driver had also strategically moved across before the final corner in hopes he could get DRS down the start-finish straight and get passed Hamilton. The crash allowed the British driver to claim the victory, with the Red Bull managing to take second place, despite a badly damaged car.
Haas driver Mick Schumacher also had a serious collision during the race, caused by a lack of visibility on the fast corners. Drivers were quick to voice concerns about the track following the race, Williams driver George Russell, Grand Prix Drivers Association director, told Autosport that his collision with Nikita Mazepin was “pretty inevitable” adding: “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,".
"I came around a blind corner, cars were everywhere, I slowed down and then got completely hit from behind. So, a lot to learn I think for motorsport this weekend, because it's an incredibly exhilarating and exciting track to drive but it's lacking a lot from a safety perspective and a racing perspective.
"And there are unnecessary incidents waiting to happen in all of these small kinks that are blind, which are not even corners in an F1 car, but they just offer unnecessary danger."
Following the grand prix, track boss Martin Whitaker confirmed that changes would be made to a number of corners to improve sight lines. A statement released in February 2022 by Saudi Motorsport Company read: "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.”
"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."
Jeddah Corniche Circuit 2022 changes
Changes were made to the Jeddah Corniche Circuit ahead of the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on 27 March 2022. During qualifying, Mick Schumacher faced another nasty crash in qualifying, where he was then airlifted to hospital and was forced to miss the race. Following the incident drivers said further changes were needed to the circuit, with Sergio Perez saying the track was “definitely the most dangerous place on the calendar”, with his team-mate Max Verstappen saying that some flat-out curves needed to be removed, adding: “just design it straight... it’s safer for everyone.”
George Russell was positive about the changes and said that too many revisions could see the track lose some of its unique features that make it F1’s fastest street circuit. Russell said: Obviously, the dangers were the lack of visibility last year. They've done their best to improve that. It has worked slightly. It hasn't solved all the issues. But I think that's just the nature of a street circuit sometimes, and obviously being so fast, it is high risk, high reward.
“The problem is, you sometimes lose the DNA of a street circuit if you go too far. There are small things that can be done to improve. But ultimately, when you go in these speeds, and you just lose it, there is no runoff, and you will end up on the wall.”
Jeddah Corniche Circuit short circuit
A shorter Jeddah Corniche Circuit was designed for the 2022 World Touring Car Cup. The circuit was 3.450km (2.144 miles) and connected Turn 4 to Turn 20 to create a 12-turn track.
What races has the Jeddah Corniche Circuit hosted?
The Jeddah Corniche Circuit hosted the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on December 5 2021, which was the first race to take place on the track. The street circuit currently hosts the Formula 1 race, as well as the FIA Formula 2 Championship and the Porsche Sprint Challenge Middle East.
The Jeddah circuit also hosted the season finale of the 2022 World Touring Car Cup, which was also the last ever race for the championship.
In 2024, the Jeddah Corniche Circuit will host races for the F1 Academy, GT4 European Series, GT World Challenge Europe: 6 Hours of Jeddah and the Porsche Carrera Cup Middle East.
Jeddah Corniche Circuit past winners
Lewis Hamilton was the first ever winner on the Jeddah Corniche Circuit for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in 2021. Max Verstappen then took the title during the 2022 race but was beaten by his teammate Sergio Perez the following year.
In 2022, the Jeddah Formula 2 race was won by Felipe Drugovich. Frederik Vesti then took the F2 win in 2023.
Jeddah Corniche Circuit fastest lap
Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton holds the fastest lap record on the Jeddah Corniche Circuit. Hamilton managed to set the fastest lap of 1:30:734 during the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix which is yet to be beaten by another driver.