Saudia Arabia mulls keeping Jeddah on F1 calendar after move to Qiddiya
Saudia Arabia has declared itself open to hosting a second round of the F1 world championship in the country, specifically at Qiddiya, the Kingdom’s new mega entertainment complex that is currently under construction.
The construction of the mega-project established near Riyadh started in 2019 and is part of the country’s Saudi Vision 2030 initiative which aims to reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependency on oil by diversifying its economy into a multitude of sectors such as infrastructure, recreation and tourism.
A dedicated racing facility, eligible for hosting an F1 Grand Prix, is expected to be the centerpiece of Qiddiya, with plans to welcome F1 from 2027 or 2028.
“The feedback from FOM and the people who watch the race, they love the track,” commented in Jeddah Saudi Motorsport Company chairman, Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al Abdullah Al-Faisal.
“The track is at the centre of Qiddiya. They are re-doing the master plans because things change on these big projects.
Read also: F1 drivers are comfortable racing in Jeddah – Hamilton ‘the opposite’
“We can’t just build a track and we are surrounded by construction sites. Part of the track is going inside the city. It’s a permanent circuit but part of it is inside the city, beside hotels and more so it’s like a hybrid between a permanent circuit and a street circuit.
“There’s going to be hotels, there’s going to be parks, there’s going to be a lot of things around it.
“We can’t just finish the track and we move the race to Qiddiya while it’s a construction site. So we want to go there when the project, the city, is completed.”
Formula 1’s initial deal with Saudi Arabia called for the country’s race to eventually transfer from Jeddah to Qiddiya upon the completion of the latter.
However, the country is considering the prospect of keeping both events on F1’s schedule.
“Saudi Arabia is a very big market, we have a strong economy,” said Prince Khalid. “The idea of having two races in Saudi is doable.
“F1 is growing, there is a lot of demand here and because Saudi is big, the regions are so far away, it’s like the States.
“You have three races in the States because the market is big there and there is a demand. The demand is there, [but] the decision is not made.
“There are a lot of things that we need to consider and I don’t know if even we want to host two races here, is it practical and feasible for FOM and the teams?
“We built this track to last, so in theory, yes we can have two races. The sport is growing, the demand is growing, so I would not be surprised if Saudi, in the near future, will host two races, I wouldn’t be surprised.
“The demand is there and we have two beautiful facilities.”
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