There were multiple changes made to the Jeddah circuit ahead of this year’s Formula 2 round there, and one revision potentially reduced several drivers’ repair bills.
The walls at Turn 10 were moved back to improve visibility of turns 11 and 12, and the high-speed left-right ‘chicane’ of turns 22 and 23 was reprofiled to lower entry speeds.
In the circuit’s first two years of use, the speed Turn 22 was taken at and the proximity of the walls meant when drivers made mistakes there was scant time for corrections and heavy impacts with the barriers were likely. An additional safety issue posed by that was the barriers could then dispel the impact energy by bouncing a car back onto the track at Turn 23.
This year’s tightening of Turn 22 meant drivers either had to reduce entry speed or brake on entry, and rookie Roman Stanek said the circuit was still “so much scary” after experiencing it in free practice.
Arthur Leclerc misjudged his entry to Turn 22 during practice and managed to make a correction to go through the run-off without issue. The rear of Frederik Vesti’s car got loose one time he attacked the corner, and he was able to regain control before the rear-end sliding turned into a spin, then used the run-off to reach Turn 23.
Richard Verschoor [pictured] avoided crashing at Turn 22 in qualifying thanks to the circuit revisions. The rear of his car got loose and swung all the way around. By the time he was perpendicular to the track his front brakes were locked and the car spun fully and stopped – primarily in the run-off at Turn 23 – without hitting the barriers.
“I wanted to be on it straight away from the beginning [that lap] and for the feeling, I overdid it,” Verschoor said. “If I look at the data, I didn’t, so I don’t really know what happened. I know that we were quite on the edge with the balance, but it was just a mistake from my side.”
After qualifying, Theo Pourchaire commented on circuit safety and Verschoor’s spin.
“This configuration is pretty good because they moved a bit the walls in the straights, which is good for the drivers. We can see a bit what’s going on in front of us, which is important in case there’s a car stopped, so it’s very good.
“Turn 22, it’s a lot more slower, which is difficult. But at the same time I think it’s really good. If a car spun there, we saw it with Verschoor, he didn’t touch the wall, he didn’t come back on the racing line, which is a very good thing. The track’s getting safer, and it’s a good thing because it’s an amazing track, we love it, but for sure it’s dangerous.”
Ollie Bearman spun there in the feature race, and told Formula Scout: “The new Turn 22 configuration probably kept me out of the wall, but the nature of this year’s corner means the balance is quite difficult anyway, since you have to brake harder on the bumps.”
Jeddah’s circuit revisions, and F2 action, was also discussed on this week’s Formula Scout Podcast, which you can listen to below