F1 and Saudi Arabia confirm Jeddah street race in 2021


Saudi Arabia will host its first Formula 1 Grand Prix next year after a deal to stage a night race on the streets of Jeddah was confirmed by Liberty Media on Thursday.

The event, scheduled for November, was earmarked on a draft calendar presented to teams last month. However, while Jeddah is Saudi Arabia's venue of choice, it is likely to be a temporary site, with F1 moving to a dedicated track located at Qiddiyah from 2023.

Saudi Arabia's inclusion on the sport's schedule had been expected for several years, but F1's partnership at the start of this season with commercial sponsor and Saudi energy giant Aramco was a harbinger of things to come.

"We are excited to welcome Saudi Arabia to Formula 1 for the 2021 season and welcome their announcement following speculation in recent days," said F1 CEO Chase Carey.

"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 1 will be racing there from next season.


"The region is hugely important to us and with 70% of the population of Saudi being under 30 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 Motor Sport Council for approval."

HRH Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al Faisal, Minister of Sport and the president of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, called today's news "ground-breaking 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," he said.

"To have the icons of the sport and historic teams race in Saudi in front of young fans and families is truly game-changing.

"We don't have a rich motorsport heritage, but in a short space of time as a federation we've earned a strong reputation of delivering world-class international events such as Formula E and the Dakar Rally.

"As a result, Saudi Arabia is home to literally millions of passionate young fans of motorsport, many of whom will already be smiling and counting down to seeing their heroes in November 2021.

"Our plans will see us take the sport to even more people with a celebration that reaches all communities and is open to all."

Saudi Arabia has recently opened itself to two high-profile motorsport events: a round of the FIA Formula E series that was held at Diriyah for the first time in 2018 and this year's edition of the Dakar rally-raid.

However, Formula 1's partnership with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will no doubt generate controversy given the accusations leveled at the country by various international organizations for violating human rights.

Last week, Amnesty International criticized F1's plans to race in Saudi Arabia, urging commercial rights holder Liberty Media not to "sportswash" the Kingdom's abysmal human rights record.

"If a Saudi Grand Prix goes ahead, at the very least F1 should insist that all contracts contain stringent labour standards across all supply chains, and that all race events are open to everyone without discrimination," stated Amnesty.

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