The blue and white Red Bull–liveried F2 car of Liam Lawson negotiates a slight right turn on the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, with the glare of the setting sun illuminating the sky and a mosque visible behind the "Emirates Fly Better" branding on the outside wall.

F2 CEO ‘not really worried about the safety concerns’ at Jeddah circuit

The 2023 F2 calendar will have 14 rounds as it did in 2022, including its inaugural round in Australia in April. Two weeks before that, F2 will head to the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in Saudi Arabia for its second round of 2023. The street circuit has attracted attention since its 2021 debut for producing both exciting racing and dangerous accidents, which have spurred discussion about its safety from a driver’s standpoint.

By Tyler Foster

During free practice at Jeddah earlier this year, Charouz Racing System’s Cem Bölükbaşı suffered a heavy collision with the barrier after grounding out his vehicle on the outside kerb of Turn 10. This incident gave him a concussion and forced him to miss the rest of the weekend’s action. In the Sprint Race the next day, Amaury Cordeel also saw a big crash end his race weekend early, with the damage to his Van Amersfoort Racing car too great to repair for the Feature Race on Sunday. The winner of the Sprint, Carlin’s Liam Lawson, said over team radio that ‘that was a race of survival’.

There are no small accidents at Jeddah, where kerbs and barriers delineate track limits and every crash results in vast amounts of money spent on car repairs. The tight nature of the circuit also increases the chances for contact, as does the circuit’s average speed in an F2 car, recorded at a rapid 221 kilometres per hour by this season’s pole-sitter Felipe Drugovich.

In order to ensure greater safety at the unique high-speed street circuit, there have been some changes ahead of 2023 focused on increasing the run-off areas and distance to circuit barriers. These include the introduction of bevelled kerbs at Turns 4, 8, 10, 11, 17 and 23; rumble lines on the inside kerbs of Turns 3, 14, 19, 20 and 21; and shifts in fence locations at Turns 14, 20 and 23. 

In a media roundtable last Wednesday, F1 Feeder Series asked Bruno Michel if he had any worries that the F2 events at Jeddah provide a greater level of danger than is acceptable to the drivers.

“It’s quite an interesting and challenging circuit,” Michel said, “but that’s the same for Formula 1 as well. I’m not calling it at all a dangerous circuit. I think, as I said, it’s a challenging one, like Spa can be in a very different extent as well. They are making some changes.

“We had some very good racing. We had some quite difficult accidents, and the other thing is drivers absolutely love [the Jeddah circuit]. They’re all really keen to go back to Jeddah. Okay, it’s a new circuit and the drivers and the teams have to deal with it, but I’m not really worried about the safety concerns on this track at all.”

Header photo credit: Sebastian Rozendaal, Dutch Photo Agency

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