Drivers reserve judgement on Jeddah safety tweaks

Subtle changes have been made around the Jeddah Corniche Street Circuit

Drivers have reserved judgement on changes made to the Jeddah Corniche Street Circuit for this weekend’s Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Just four months after F1 first visited the venue, a handful of subtle changes have been made to the venue billed as the sport’s fastest street circuit.

Those include moving key walls back by 1.5 metres in an effort to improve visibility for drivers, and skinning of walls in other locations.

But while drivers are pleased that something has been done to a circuit described as “on the limit” in terms of safety, they’re uncertain whether the tweaks go far enough.

“In the short period of time, it was nice to see at least they managed to do something,” said Red Bull’s Sergio Perez.

“To be honest, I have to wait until I drive to make comparison to last year, and see what else we can do to make it even better.

“I think last year, it was nice that nothing happened on the race, but it was really on the limit of safety.”

Charles Leclerc shared Perez’s opinion but also reserved full judgement until at least after opening practice.

“I did a track walk before yesterday, and there were slight changes, especially in the last part of the track, which might be a bit better for traffic,” the championship leader said.

“But there was also this first part of the track that was quite tricky and I don’t think there was any change.

“But let’s wait and see. Maybe from the cars it looks better than what it is.”

In an effort to improve visibility, the sport is testing video screens at some points around the track. However, that met with mixed reviews from drivers.

“It’s such a quick section, it’s not like you have a lot of time to look at a TV screen and see what’s going on,” noted Lando Norris.

“We’ll see. If it is good, then I’m sure we’ll try to implement it.”

George Russell, a member of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, added: “We’ll have to test it and see and we’ll only get the feedback once we get out there.

“Sometimes solutions like this that work really well, sometimes not so well.

“We know the difficulties of visibility on a circuit like this, and I think the more the FIA can do to help us is only going to be beneficial,” he added.

“So I can’t comment quite at this moment, but it could be quite an intriguing implementation.

“If it works potentially we’ll see it in Baku, Monaco, Singapore. If it reduces the danger, risk, and improves safety for all of us, then why not?”

Free Practice 1 in Saudi Arabia gets underway at 01:00 AEDT.

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