Saudi Arabia to host Formula One race in 2021

Kingdom will become third Gulf race on the F1 calendar after Bahrain and Abu Dhabi

Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal, Saudi Minister of Sport, F1 chief executive Chase Carey and Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al Faisal, President of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation at the pits in Imola, Italy. Courtesy photo
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The Formula One Saudi Arabia Grand Prix will debut next year in Jeddah, it was confirmed on Thursday.

The kingdom’s inaugural F1 race will be staged on a street circuit in November, beginning and concluding on the city’s corniche and running along the Red Sea.

Now the third F1 grand prix in the Gulf after Bahrain and Abu Dhabi, it marks the first year of a long-term partnership between F1 and the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF). It is part of kingdom’s Vision 2030 programme.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal, the Saudi Minister of Sport, said: “Saudi Arabia is accelerating forward and the speed, energy, excitement of Formula One perfectly reflects the transformational journey the country is on.

“As we’ve witnessed in recent years, our people want to be at the very heart of the biggest moments in live sport and entertainment. And they don’t come any bigger than Formula One. No matter where in the world it’s held, Formula One is an event that brings people together to celebrate an occasion that goes far beyond sport. We look forward to sharing this unique experience and sharing Jeddah with the world. For many Saudis this will be a dream come true.”

Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al Faisal, president of the SAMF, added: “Today is groundbreaking in every sense. I firmly believe the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will be the biggest sports event hosted in our country’s history and has the potential to change lives, perceptions and reach new audiences and communities like never before. To have the icons of the sport and historic teams race in Saudi in front of young fans and families is truly game changing.”

While the 2021 calendar is yet to be confirmed, the expectation is that Saudi will fall as the penultimate stop of a 22-race campaign. The Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, hosted at Yas Marina Circuit, has been the season’s traditional finale for several years.

“We are excited to welcome Saudi Arabia to Formula One for the 2021 season and welcome their announcement following speculation in recent days,” said Chase Carey, F1's chairman and CEO.

“Saudi Arabia is a country that is rapidly becoming a hub for sports and entertainment with many major events taking place there in recent years and we are very pleased that Formula One will be racing there from next season. The region is hugely important to us and with 70 per cent of the population of Saudi being under thirty we are excited about the potential to reach new fans and bring our existing fans around the world exciting racing from an incredible and historic location. We will be publishing our full provisional 2021 calendar in the coming weeks and this will be submitted to the World Motorsport Council for approval.”

The kingdom’s inaugural F1 race will be staged on a street circuit in November, beginning and concluding on the city’s corniche and running along the Red Sea. Courtesy photo

It is anticipated the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix will remain in Jeddah while a new track at Qiddiyah – approximately one hour from Riyadh - is completed. That is scheduled to be in 2023. Saudi has hosted the all-electric Formula E racing series since 2018.

This season, the opening 10 races on the F1 calendar were postponed or cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Vietnamese Grand Prix will also debut next year.