Circuit changes open track limits potential in Jeddah
By Mat Coch
Friday 17th March, 2023 - 4:00pm
Track limits could become a factor at this weekend’s F1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix following extensive changes to the Jeddah Corniche Street Circuit.
The ultra-fast venue has been refined to improve sight lines for drivers around what were otherwise blind corners.
Barriers have been moved back in a number of locations opening the door for drivers to stray over track edges.
Policing track limits
Since 2022, track edges have been defined by the white line at the edge of the racing surface.
Drivers must keep at least one wheel on the race track else they are deemed to have breached track limits.
Failing to do so will see a lap time deleted in practice and qualifying.
Depending where the transgression occurred, it could also result in the next lap being deleted.
Under race conditions, that has seen the lap time deleted and the driver warned.
After the third warning, a black and white ‘unsportsmanlike’ flag is shown. Any further breaches attract a time penalty.
In Jeddah, that has typically not been an issue as the track edges were defined by concrete blocks.
However, that is now no longer the case in some areas.
“There a few places yes that you can have you over, obviously with the extended walls compared to the track edge,” observed Alfa Romeo Sauber’s Valtteri Bottas.
“There’s opportunities to benefit [exceeding track limits] but I think they’re pretty well policed nowadays.
“I think [like] any other track where there’s opportunities to go wide.
“I don’t personally see a big issue, just need to be careful.”
Multiple track changes
The race director’s notes to drivers outline a total of 20 changes to the circuit from last year.
The barrier at Turn 8, for instance, has been moved 7.8 metres back from its previous location.
At Turn 10 the wall is 9.4 metres further back, while Turns 14 and 20 have also received attention.
Another notable change is a reprofiling of the Turn 22/23 complex, which sees the former start approximately 10 metres later and the latter moved by 5 metres.
Kerbing has also been changed, with temporary steel kerbs replaced with permanent concrete installations at Turn 5, Turn 8, Turn 10, and others.
“Last year the kerbs were quite tricky and dangerous and they have done a good job to go around that, but if may open it up to track limits now,” suggested Alex Albon.
“But we will see. I think there’s a lot of exploration. Some corners I think almost will be too quick to do it.
“But I think generally the circuit’s better, that’s the main thing we should be focusing on.”
Rumble strips have also been added in some locations to offer drivers feedback for when they stray from the race track.
Opening practice for this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix begins at 16:30 local time (00:30 AEDT Saturday)
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