ART Grand Prix driver Théo Pourchaire praised the modifications made to the Jeddah Corniche Circuit ahead of Round 2 of the 2023 FIA Formula 2 Championship this weekend.
The changes made this year are intended to reduce the risk of crashes and injury at a number of locations around the 27-turn circuit.
Pourchaire, who qualified third for the Feature Race, was one of several drivers to have crash at the venue last year. The French driver at the high-speed Turn 23 in free practice and destroying the rear-right corner of his Dallara F2 2018.
The entry to Turn 22, which forms a left-right chicane with Turn 23, has been moved back by about 10 metres, tightening the apex and slowing the corner entry speed by between 30 and 50 kilometres per hour. Bevelled kerbs have also been added to Turn 23, and the fence has been pushed back.
Major accidents also befell Cem Bölükbasi and Amaury Cordeel last year at the Turn 10–12 complex, with the former receiving a concussion that forced him to miss the rest of that round and the subsequent event at Imola.
Permanent bevelled kerbs have been added to Turn 10, replacing the one that unsettled Bölükbasi’s car before he hit the wall. That concrete wall has now been augmented by TecPro barriers to reduce impact force, and the inside fence at Turn 10 has also been moved 9.4 metres away from the apex.
Barriers have also been pushed back on the inside of Turn 8 by 7.8 metres, on the inside of Turn 14 by 5.8 metres and on the inside of Turn 20 by 3.7 metres. These changes have significantly increased the runoff at each corner and improved drivers’ sight-lines.
Rounding out the modifications to the 6.175-kilometre track, permanent bevelled kerbs have also been added to Turns 5, 8 and 17; rumble strips have been added to the inside of Turns 11, 14, 19, 20 and 21; painted kerbs have been added to Turns 3, 14, 19, 20 and 21; and steel plates have been removed from Turns 4, 16, 22 and 24.
These changes are on top of modifications made to barrier construction and placement in 2022 for much the same reasons.
Pourchaire, who is in his third full F2 season, has driven all three versions of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit since it first appeared on the calendar in December 2021. When asked by InsideF2 about how he rated the changes after his first day on the new configuration, he replied, “I think this configuration is pretty good.
“They moved a bit the walls in the straight, 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 is a car stopped. So it’s very good.
“Turn 22 as well, it’s a lot more slower, which is difficult, but in the same time I think it’s really good if a car spun there.
“We saw it with [Richard] Verschoor. He spun there [in qualifying, but] he didn’t touch the wall, he didn’t come back on the race line, which is a very good thing.
“The track is getting safer, and it’s a good thing because it’s an amazing track. We love it, but for sure, it’s dangerous.”