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Saudi Arabia confirms plans to host F1 grand prix

  • Published on 18 Jan 2020 11:31
  • comments 11
  • By: Fergal Walsh

Saudi Arabia has confirmed that it is looking into the possibility of staging a Formula 1 Grand Prix in the near future. 

Earlier this week, it was reported that the middle-eastern country was interested in bringing F1 to its country as part of its recent growth in hosting sporting events. 

Two races from the region already take place annually, with Bahrain and Abu Dhabi holding spots on the calendar.

BBC Sport reports that the 'Qiddiyah Circuit' is part of a new sports complex being designed bu ex-F1 driver Alex Wurz.

CEO of the Qiddiya Investment Company Mike Reininger told BBC Sport: "We're building a facility in the hope there will be a deal struck and there is a race here in Saudi," he said.

"The formalisation of a race is not for us at Qiddiyah. It is outside the confines of the project itself. But we are building a facility that will be able to host a really world-class event as one of the signature items we will have on offer here at Qiddiyah as we open in 2023."

The circuit was officially unveiled on Friday, with a simulator used to showcase the layout. A number of guests attended the event, including Damon Hill, David Coulthard, Romain Grosjean and Nico Hulkenberg.

Human rights issue may cause concerns

Question marks linger over the ethical decision to bring F1 to Saudi Arabia, as such a decision would likely draw criticism from human rights groups. 

Amnesty International, an organisation that focuses on human rights, says that Saudi Arabia has "an appalling record on LGBT rights, women's rights, extra-judicial killings, beheadings, the murder of journalist Jamal Kashoggi, and their involvement in the ongoing conflict in Yemen".

Women only received the right to drive on roads in 2017, however women still remain in jail for protesting their right before it was introduced. 

Replies (11)

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  • And since they have money they are likely to get it.

    • + 1
    • Jan 18 2020 - 13:15
  • Bilstar

    Posts: 17

    Terrible country. If the F1 overlords are so happy with it, they should move there see how they get on. Same with China.

    • + 1
    • Jan 18 2020 - 13:22
    • It is too late to start not accepting some countries based on politics, because that ship has already sailed, returned home to fetch its keys, and set sail again. If they were to not include the Saudis, they'd have to ditch Bahrain and Abu Dhabi too since they are of very similar morale, and Russia wouldn't necessarily go safe either. And I could go on, but it is too late to talk about ethics of which GPs they should choose, because they've already accepted analogues.

      • + 1
      • Jan 18 2020 - 16:31
  • RogerF1

    Posts: 434

    Hope they use enough sand to design some elevation but as it’s going to be part of an entertainment complex I will not be surprised at another semi “car park” affair. Being the usual English sarcastic person and per other posts, I wonder if they will host a round of WSeries?

    • + 1
    • Jan 18 2020 - 18:47
    • Well, women are since 2017 allowed to drive in the Saudis, so as long as they don't take their helmets (or maybe the balaklavas I guess) off, and as long as there are no women in the crowd (still think there are limits on that), they'll be fine.... Tried to make this comment tongue in cheek, but it isn't a funny subject...

      • + 1
      • Jan 18 2020 - 19:14
  • Will there still be fuel limit of 100kg in their race?

    • + 0
    • Jan 18 2020 - 22:12
    • Of course not, unlimited fuel consumption for the SA race.

      • + 0
      • Jan 19 2020 - 05:26
  • I hope it is a colossal failure and they quickly forget about SA as an F1 venue. But then again, F1 is inextricably tied to the oil industry so it makes sense to have a race there.

    • + 1
    • Jan 19 2020 - 05:25
    • So would I, but I doubt it will be. There are just too many sports flocking to the UAE and Saudis, and they find success there because enough people attend the races and want to experience the luxurious circumstances, all the while regarding the slave work and incompatible ethics said luxuries are built upon. I was content when the Swedish gov decided to stop selling weapons to the Saudis... Only for them to talk with Iran... Oh dear...

      And again: at any rate, they've already let in the UAE, Russia and China, too late now to let politics interfer. Hell, even Mexico and Brasilia can be debatable inclusions, and some even think the US and Monaco should be taken out. It's a tricky dilemma. :/

      • + 0
      • Jan 19 2020 - 11:00
    • Qatar and UAE have a major difference from SA: BRANDING. They already have an ecosystem of multi-nationals being part of various trades. They even went as far as having different laws ( only in practise of course ) for a multi national. SA doesn't have trust, branding, and such an ecosystem yet. So, the spectators would have to be local or non-locals have to exclusively fly to this unfamiliar, and allegedly dangerous place to attend an F1 race. Since, there are 21 other alternative locations to attend an F1 race, i wonder who might do that. A failure is written all over this race.

      • + 0
      • Jan 20 2020 - 16:42
    • The UAE (mostly) yes. Qatar however have a tricky branding, and even they were serious candidates a few years back had not Bahrain and Abu Dhabi blocked that move. That could happen again if the Saudis present a deal. But the thing is, sports already show success in SA. Motorsports included. Even "sports" like WWE. They have a rich population as is what can support and attend the races, and people from other MENA nations don't mind the dilemmas there as we do. So sadly I'm not sure a saudi race would flop.

      • + 0
      • Jan 20 2020 - 17:41

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Monaco Monte Carlo
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Azerbaijan Baku City Circuit
12 - Jun 14
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France Paul Ricard
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