F1 world champion Max Verstappen struck at the site of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sunday
Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen visited the Jeddah Corniche circuit in Saudi Arabia ahead of the second race of the season on Sunday, saying the track isvery, very dangerous” just hours after Haas driver Mick Schumacher was involved in a high-speed crash during qualifying.
Schumacher, 23, hit a wall in Turn 12 of the circuit on a hot lap when he was estimated to be going around 170 miles per hour.
The German quickly allayed concerns for his safety by confirming on social media that he was fine – but his team opted to pull him out of Sunday’s race as a precaution.
Speaking ahead of the race, Verstappen, who will start fourth when the race begins on Sunday evening, said Schumacher’s smash was a symptom of a track he says is not safe for drivers after the modification of the circuit before the race.
“Last year for me, personally, I was happy with how we got through the weekend in terms of crashessaid the Dutch driver of the 2021 iteration of the race.
This year, however, Verstappen says the track design is more about providing an exciting race than protecting driver safety.
“In some places, if you lose the car like [on Saturday] with Mick and you go straight into the wall, it’s extremely painful and very, very dangerous,” he said.
“Not only that, straight lines aren’t entirely straight because they’re all a bit blind. I don’t understand why you have to design the track [like this].
“If it’s going to be flat, just design it. It’s just safer for everyone.”
Verstappen also explained that the red flag that came out after Schumacher’s crash hampered his performance throughout the session.
“I felt like I was riding with a different tire. At each corner I was losing a tenth or two doing the same preparation, so I don’t understand what was wrong there.,” he explained.
“After such a long break because of the red flag, everything cools down, the ambient track so there is a lot of track progression, but for me it felt like I was slowing down. It’s something very weird and I still had my delta from Q1 and I never improved that until Q3. In some corners I was still losing time, so it was quite weird.”
Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez will become the first Mexican driver to race in a Formula 1 race from pole position when the lights go out at the Jeddah circuit later on Sunday – and he and Verstappen will be hoping the very criticized the Saudi Arabia racecourse no longer provides incidents throughout the 50-lap race.
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