Williams driver George Russell believes parts of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit “need a rethink” from a safety perspective following its inaugural Formula 1 event.
The wall-lined 27-turn circuit made its debut on the schedule last weekend and features several corners that are blind on entry, with limited to no run-off.
It is also one of the fastest circuits on the schedule, with Lewis Hamilton’s pole position lap achieved at an average speed of 253.984km/h.
Russell was eliminated from the race at the first standing restart after being struck from behind by an unsighted Nikita Mazepin.
Their collision came as the field checked up due to Sergio Perez’s Red Bull spinning across the track at the exit of Turn 3 following contact with Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari.
“I mean it is so difficult for all of the drivers, you come around a corner that is full gas, and suddenly there’s a car sideways, tyre smoke everywhere, you don’t know what’s about to happen,” said Russell, who is also a Director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association.
“There’s a lot to learn from this weekend in terms of these circuits, incredibly exhilarating, so fast, exciting to drive, but lacking quite a lot from a safety perspective and a racing perspective.
“Let’s see what happens in the future, and generally [there’s] a lot to learn.”
Russell suggested that some sections of the circuit should be reprofiled.
“It was just chaos through Turns 3 to 7 [on the opening lap], you couldn’t see anything, cars were everywhere,” he said.
“Again, it’s a great track to drive, but it’s a bit of a recipe for disaster. Yeah, not a lot more to say.
“Definitely a rethink is needed and if we do come back next year – which I guess we are – I think there’s some things we need to modify to make these kinks just straights, because it’s so blind and we’ve already seen too many incidents waiting to happen.”
Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel, who had tangles with Yuki Tsunoda and Kimi Räikkönen before retiring, expressed a similar point of view.
“I think it’s an exciting track, because there’s high-speed corners, but I don’t know, I think we largely rely on the skills that we have and also luck if things go wrong,” he said.
“It doesn’t take much; you can’t see nothing when you go round and there were some close calls.
“I think Suzuka is an amazing track, but you wouldn’t do Suzuka with walls. And that’s what they’ve done more or less here. It’s challenging, but pointless to be so blind for so long.”