During the practice sessions on Friday, there were numerous near misses due to the nature of the track at Jeddah, which involves a series of flat out bends. This often results in drivers coming across another car on an in-lap or out-lap with limited time and space to move out of the way. The high speeds and blind corners magnify this issue, so constant communication with engineers on approaching cars is vital at this circuit. The issue was addressed in the drivers’ briefing on Friday evening, but it is expected to escalate in the qualifying session on Saturday.
Nico Hulkenberg emphasized the importance of being active and reactive on the radio during the out-lap, keeping the line open as cars frequently come through at a rapid pace. “Here if you have a slow car and a car on a hot lap, the closing speed is crazy,” said Hulkenberg. “And in the blind corners here, with everything that’s going on, it’s bit tricky sometimes.”
In spite of changes to the track, sightlines have not been significantly improved. Hulkenberg stated that the modifications only really affected Turn 22, where the corner had been tightened up and slowed down, and one corner where the wall had been pushed back. The kerbs have also been altered, with the one out of Turn 10 being raised and more aggressive, which creates a climbing effect with the cars.
On the other hand, Kevin Magnussen, Hulkenberg‘s colleague, said that moving the walls had some effect on the issue. It allowed drivers to see further back in their mirrors but still not far enough to prevent problematic situations on the track. Drivers are still reliant on their mirrors for visibility, presenting a challenge for other drivers to get out of the way. However, there is still some time to avoid accidents, provided constant communication is maintained with the engineers.