Saudi Arabia aims to create Formula 1 hub in Kingdom

Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al Faisal (KSA) President of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation.

Saudi Arabia enjoys a prominent presence on the F1 calendar, but the Kingdom now aims to create its own motorsport valley populated with some of the sport's top teams.

Saudi Arabia signed a 10-year contract with Formula 1 that will see teams race in Jeddah for a few more years before a brand-new complex in Qiddiya becomes the country's permanent F1 venue.

But Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al Faisal, president of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, wants to take the Kingdom's involvement in motorsport to the next level by establishing in the future a veritable hub similar to the racing nerve center located in the UK.

"We want to create a hub," Prince Khalid told Motor Sport magazine. "We have big companies that can help the future of motorsport."

Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund currently holds significant investments in both McLaren and Aston Martin's automotive units, and through those connections Prince Khalid believes that the Kingdom can attract a major F1 team to its future hub.

"This is what we are hoping for and this is what we are working for," he said. "Hopefully we can bring one of the big manufacturers.

"With all the investing we are doing in cars — the private investment fund bought shares in McLaren and Aston Martin — we are heading that way.

"Hopefully we can open and bring headquarters to Saudi Arabia or we hire people that can help us manufacture cars or technology, to create our own brands and have our own IPs [intellectual property rights]."

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff with Saudi's Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al Faisal on the right.

Convincing a leading F1 team to relocate itself to Saudi Arabia is a tall order and one that isn't likely to happen anytime soon.

The UK's motorsport valley, located in the Midlands and Oxfordshire regions, is currently home to seven of Formula 1's ten teams, but also to 4,300 suppliers that are part of motorsport's ecosystem.

Only Ferrari in Maranello, AlphaTauri in Faenza and Alfa Romeo-Sauber in HInwil operate outside of the UK.

In addition to Formula 1, Saudi Arabia also host the Dakar rally raid, which is currently underway in the country, as well rounds of the FIA Formula E Championship and of the Extreme E off-road series, while MotoGP will also soon visit the country.

"We have a 20-year programme that hopefully will launch at the end of 2023, early 2024. Our aim is not just to host international events, we want to be involved more," added Prince Khalid.

"We want to have engineers, we want to have mechanics, we want to build cars, we want to be creative.

"We are investing a lot in infrastructures, in building tracks in Saudi Arabia. We want to build academies so we can be more involved – Saudi teams with Saudi drivers or other drivers to race in Saudi teams.

"It’s still a long way ahead but hopefully by 2030, 2035, 2040 we can achieve our goals."

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