Organizers of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix have made changes to the street circuit in Jeddah in order to improve sightlines for drivers ahead of this year’s race.
Saudi Arabia hosted its first grand prix in December of last year, as it held the penultimate round of the 2021 season. This year it will take what it plans to be its usual position of a March race date — forming a back-to-back event with the season opener in Bahrain — but tweaks to the track have already been made following concerns from some drivers of not being able to see what is immediately around a high-speed corner in racing situations.
“The length of time between the two races has enabled us to reflect on some aspects that did and didn’t work,” said Martin Whitaker, CEO of race promoter Saudi Motorsport Company. “And we have been striving to improve on some areas for our second event.
“Firstly, there are going to be one or two slight changes to the track. These tweaks are directly related to a drivers’ sightline from the cockpit. It’s minimal work, but it will help improve forward visibility in a couple of corners. Secondly, we will make some small modifications to the barriers that will favor the lines the drivers take around the course.”
With changes to grandstands and fan areas, as well as circuit access points, in order to try and improve the experience for all who attend in 2022, Whitaker says the additional investment in such a short space of time shows the commitment to the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, despite longer-term plans for a permanent facility elsewhere in Saudi Arabia.
“The most important thing is that the long-term future of a race in Saudi Arabia is secure. The construction of Qiddiya near Riyadh is ongoing, but the focus is very much on Jeddah at the moment and about maximizing the opportunities on this fantastic circuit. There are very few like the one we have on the Corniche, which is challenging, dynamic, long, and super-fast and in such a stunning location. Jeddah continues to be a dynamic shop window for the country, not only from a sporting perspective but for the business community too.
“We plan to build awareness that F1 is a great platform, not only for Saudi companies to showcase their businesses but to welcome global corporations to the country too. Formula 1 presents a great opportunity to do business and also offers a backdrop for people to enjoy networking in a more relaxed atmosphere.”