Saudi Arabia has been present on the Formula 1 calendar since 2021, with the fast-flowing, sweeping track making an instant impression on its debut.
The 2023 edition, the third instalment of the race around Jeddah, will see a number of minor alterations made to the 27-turn layout active.
The changes have been made in the name of safety, with a handful of sizeable accidents occurring at the track in its brief history with F1.
Work took place at the venue during the winter break, which have been completed in time for the second round of the 2023 campaign.
New rumble lines have been added at Turns 3, 14, 19, 20 and 21, while bevelled kerbs are now installed instead of steel kerbs at Turns 4, 8, 10, 11, 17 and 23.
Visibility was also a problem for drivers at times, but this has been addressed by shifting the walls back at Turns 14 and 20, while the fence walls have been adjusted at Turns 8 and 10 to improve the driver’s line of sight.
“The drivers are going to be I think, really quite pleased because obviously the first time they get a chance to have a look will be when they walk around on Thursday,” Saudi Arabian Grand Prix CEO Martin Whitaker told the F1 Nation podcast.
“But during the winter months, we’ve again made some quite interesting changes to improve the sight lines.
“So, on five of the corners, we’ve moved the fences back by anything between two and seven metres. So in some places, it’s quite a marked change to the overall look and feel of the circuit.”
Finally, at Turn 22 and 23, the area has been slightly reshaped due to an adjustment of the fence, with the apex speed of Turn 23 expected to be 50km/h slower than last year.
Despite the reduction in speed in that area, Whitaker expects that the overall changes will see the lap time decrease.
“It will reduce the lap time somewhat, but probably not an awful lot,” he said. “I mean, effectively, you could argue that improve sight lines could even give drivers greater competence through some of the corners.
“So we might see even greater speeds through some of the corners.”
One of the biggest crashes that occurred at the track was Mick Schumacher’s shunt during qualifying last year, which ruled him out of Sunday’s grand prix.
Whitaker says that the 2022-spec cars, built under a new set of technical regulations, reacted differently to the kerbs compared to the 2021 machines.
However, he is not expecting a similar incident to occur after changes were made to the kerbs.
“Good point, I should have mentioned we have changed the kerbs,” he said.
“One of the issues, if you remember was that track was designed and constructed in the ’21 era car, and therefore when we got to the ’22 era car, I imagine that there will be other circuits who faced this issue as well, the kerbs did not work well with the modern era car and as a result of that ’22 design.
“And so to that end, we’ve changed pretty much all of the kerbs as well, they’re much smoother up and a much decreased angle on the backside of the kerb so that you won’t get a car effectively losing traction when it gets on top of the kerb.”