Between a harmful observe structure and eyebrow-raising issues concerning the host nation, what lays forward for certainly one of Method 1’s most daring circuits?
Offering some of the controversial and entertaining races within the historical past of Method 1, the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in Saudi Arabia has instantly carved itself a spot within the calendar as some of the boldly designed layouts in Hermann Tilke’s arsenal, pairing the tight partitions of Baku with the speeds of Silverstone and a pure tendency to fabricate theatrics.
In its brief historical past, the Corniche has quickly earned the fame as certainly one of Bernd Mayländer’s most lapped circuits of the 12 months. Offering a number of standing restarts within the Method 1 Grand Prix and a litany of security vehicles all through the Method 2 weekend final 12 months, Jeddah’s return in 2022 turned the tide.
Regardless of two security vehicles and an unlucky state of affairs for Purple Bull Junior Dennis Hauger, Sunday’s function race went off and not using a hitch, catching out a handful of drivers on the alternate technique of holding out for a security automobile that by no means got here.
Method 1’s endeavor onto the Corniche had just one security automobile and a sprinkling of VSCs. It retained a lot of the inexperienced flag working while injecting a strategic variable.
The security of the observe underneath qualifying situations remained controversial following the weekend although after a heart-stopping crash from Mick Schumacher within the closing levels of Q2.
Through the pre-race drivers’ parade, Schumacher mentioned he was “three tenths up on the sprint” pushing via the top of the primary sector. He then caught a wholesome quantity of curb on the exit of flip 10, kicking the rear finish of the automobile proper and sending him into the wall of flip 11.
The security of the brand new rules was undoubtedly confirmed with an unscathed Schumacher returning to the paddock the next morning. However whatever the security of the vehicles, no circuit ought to naturally generate this amount of incidents, by no means thoughts when paired with below-par imaginative and prescient for oncoming drivers.
The circuit itself would possible be unable to warrant removing from the calendar by itself.
However when mixed with energetic points within the host nation, the occasion faces an unsure future. Through the first apply, smoke may very well be seen within the background from a close-by terrorist assault.
The night and late hours of the night time featured prolonged discussions over whether or not or to not keep it up with the occasion, ending with the unanimous choice to hold on as scheduled.
In accordance with a number of sources, throughout these discussions, the drivers had been unified in opposition to the occasion earlier than being informed they’d face penalties for not racing.
Many translated this to imply added difficulties leaving the nation following the occasion, just like what occurred to WWE in 2019 when 20 employees, together with 12 performers, have been held on the airstrip lengthy sufficient to overlook a headline occasion in america.
The debut of the occasion final 12 months was nonetheless marred by some degree of political controversy, when Lewis Hamilton used his pleasure helmet design within the closing stint of the season to voice his issues over the therapy of LBGTQ+ people within the nation. This 12 months’s race remained intently linked to the problem when Hamilton acquired a letter from a younger boy on loss of life row.
Such instability mixed with outward issues from the drivers concerning the protection of the circuit units a shaky basis for the way forward for the Grand Prix, no matter its leisure worth. With new venues in Miami and Las Vegas making their approach onto the calendar to additional set up Method 1’s presence in america, some present races will inevitably discover their approach onto the chopping block.