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Saudi GP: safety first, and a construction race down to the wire

Trials begin next Friday and the actual Saudi GP race starts next Sunday, December 5. Safety in construction has not been an issue, but concerns remain on whether the racetrack, on which construction began in May 2021, will be completed on time

8 million man-hours were put into the circuit so far without a major incident Saudi GP chiefs say they have used 3000 on-site contractors to get the building of the venue done The Jeddah Corniche Circuit will be the second-longest on the 2021 calendar at 6.175km

Trials begin next Friday and the actual Saudi GP race starts next Sunday, December 5. Safety in construction has not been an issue, but concerns remain on whether the racetrack, on which construction began in May 2021, will be completed on time

Safety first

Saudi’s GP organizers say they can be proud of their record on construction safety and worker rights as they rush to ready the new Jeddah street circuit for a looming December debut.

Saudi GP chief executive Martin Whitaker said his circuit put some 10,000 workers through a safety induction program.

“I think we’ve had just under 8 million man-hours put into the circuit so far and we haven’t had a major incident,” he told Reuters.

“We’re monitored regularly by Formula One. Formula One sent their own team here to look at what we’re doing. We’re under scrutiny the whole time.”

Formula One chief executive Stefano Domenicali separately told the BBC that the contracts with Saudi Arabia and Qatar contained guarantees that the countries must respect human rights in all aspects of their involvement in the sport.

Whitaker said 40% of those working for the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix organization were female.

“This is probably the first just-in-time Formula One circuit that’s ever been built,” said Whitaker. “There’s a tremendous amount of work going on, but the circuit will be ready. The Paddock Club (hospitality), the 48 pit buildings, medical center, team buildings are all in place.”

Whitaker said the last meters of asphalt were being laid after a delay of a couple of days due to heavy rain in the Red Sea port city.

Unfinished business

The all-new street circuit is being built on the Jeddah Corniche, and construction work looks set to roll on all the way up until the F1 arrives.

The latest images suggest that the track itself is done but there still remains a lot of work to be done in the construction areas surrounding it.

Saudi GP chiefs say they have used 3000 on-site contractors to get the building of the venue done ahead of the night race.

F1’s bosses have been adamant that enough will be completed for the event to go ahead as planned. F1 race director Michael Masi visited Saudi earlier this week to get the latest progress update on the current construction.

Speaking to Motorsport.com recently, F1 sporting director Steve Nielsen said: “It’s an ambitious project, it will be a great facility. They’re up against it, they are. But they’re literally working 24/7 as they have been for quite a long time now. But still, a lot to do. So it really is going to be down to the wire. But they’ll get it done. Everything we need to put the race on safely we’ll have, I’m confident of that.”

Saudi GD F1 in numbers

Check out the Saudi GP by the numbers, as the world’s fastest street circuit prepares for its F1 debut.

6.175

The Jeddah Corniche Circuit will be the second-longest on the 2021 calendar at 6.175km, just over 800 meters shorter than the table-topper Spa. It’ll take around 1m 27.9s to complete a lap in qualifying trim and 1m 33.8s in the 50-lap race.

12

There are several sweeping corners dotted around the 27-turn track. Sixteen of those are left-handers, 11 are right. One of those is the very impressive Turn 13 hairpin that is banked at 12 degrees. That’s three degrees steeper than Indianapolis’ banked corners and seven shy of those at Zandvoort. Expect it to be a high G-load (around 4.9 lateral G) and high-stress circuit for the drivers.

322

Simulations suggest the cars will hit an eye-watering top speed of 322km/h, with a staggering average speed of 252.8km/h.

3,300

A long track means a significant amount of safety features are required in Jeddah. Aside from the 13km of catch-fencing, which aims to prevent debris from reaching spectator areas, there are 3,300 pieces of concrete wall that will be slotted together, along with 3,000 TecPro barriers.

37,000

The asphalt layering process, which when finished will have seen a staggering 37,000 tons of asphalt put down.

1,500

The inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will be a night race, with floodlights to be erected around the 6.175km circuit, delivering lighting levels of 1,500 lux, which explains why there are more than 20,000 meters of electric cabling.

504,242

The Saudi Automobile & Motorcycle Federation broke the record for the largest Lego brick Formula 1 car ever built, as part of their promotion for this year’s race, with Guinness World Records officially verifying the feat. The green brick car was made up of 504,242 Lego bricks, running 5.710m long, 2.048m high and 1.072km tall.