Formula One needs to learn from accident-prone Jeddah race: George Russelltext_fields
Williams driver George Russell has come out in criticism of the 'unsafe' Jeddah circuit after Sunday's chaotic debut Saudi Arabian Grand Prix saw at least 5 drivers having to retire from the Grand Prix owing to accidents. Russell, who earned a DNF due to a collision forced by Nikita Mazepin's Haas car, said that motorsport "had a lot to learn" from the events of Sunday.
"...A lot to learn I think for motorsport this weekend, because it's an incredibly exhilarating and exciting track to drive but it's lacking a lot from a safety perspective and a racing perspective...and there are unnecessary incidents waiting to happen in all of these small kinks that are blind, which are not even corners in an F1 car, but they just offer unnecessary danger," the British driver said to Motorsports.com.
Russell believed the accident was 'inevitable' and placed the blame squarely on the infamous blind turns. It was on one such blind turn that caused Mazepin to crash into the back of the Williams as it sought to avoid yet another accident, this one caused by the spinning Red Bull of Sergio Perez who was hit by Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.
"In my opinion, track changes are needed. You've got so many of these small kinks that are totally unnecessary...and that could all just be made into a straight line from Turn 2 to Turn 4 and just be straight from Turn 17 to 22," he was quoted as saying by Autosport.
"We've got five corners, which is a section that's totally easy flat out, even with DRS...I don't know what the limitations are, that also needs to be looked at. And ideally, if that was made into a straight line the safety would drastically improve," Russell added, emphasising that safety was the most important consideration to take.
Many drivers had opined that the track's record 27 turns and narrow stretches combined with the high-speed nature of the circuit and lack of runoffs meant that there were many safety hazards waiting to happen. With two red flags and four Virtual Safety Car incidents reported, the Jeddah race proved to be divisive amongst fans and experts alike, some of whom appreciated the track's fast completion but most of whom believed it was too dangerous in places.
While George could not finish the race, his teammate Nicholas Latifi finished P12 overall. Lewis Hamilton took first place followed by Max Verstappen and Valterri Bottas.
Both Williams drivers sported a special tribute to Williams founder and head Frank Williams who passed away last month. A special insignia and Frank William's favourite quote from the movie Top Gun ("I feel the need, the need for speed") were emblazoned on the cars that weekend.