Saudi Arabia shrugs off security concerns as it eyes F1 expansion

The minister for sport in Saudi Arabia has declared the country’s interest in hosting multiple races per year

Carlos Sainz at the 2021 Saudi Arabia GP.v1

Saudi Arabia has hosted the Jeddah Grand Prix for the past two seasons, and both races have got fans on the edge of their seats with the highspeed street circuit providing thrilling racing for spectators.

Currently in a 10-year deal that runs until 2030, the current plan is that Jeddah will only be the temporary home of the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix despite the drama and excitement that it has given us on the racetrack over the past two seasons.

Those in charge plan to move the Grand Prix to Qaddiya, where a new state of the art race facility is being constructed. However it’s thought that the track will not be completed until 2024 at the earliest.

“It [Qaddiya] will be an iconic place to have an F1 race, with a theme part that’s next to it,” said Prince Abdulaziz.

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“We think it’s a good transition [from Jeddah], because it’s a totally different environment. So you won’t have two races that are the same in one region: in Jeddah, it’s by the sea. But when you go to the other, it is the desert, it’s more of a different vibe to it.”

For 2023 at least the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is expected to still be in Jeddah, however, Price Abdulaziz sees no reason why the country couldn’t end up hosting two races each year, especially with two modern tracks ready to host.

“We won’t say no,” Abdulaziz said.

“We really see the benefits of having of having these events for the Kingdom, and that’s why we’re investing so much.

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“We definitely could host two races already for that. But I think that’s something we have to discuss with F1 and see how it goes. But we definitely would love to have that.” he continued.

If having two races on the calendar is not possible, the sports minister is open to alternating between Qaddiya and Jeddah.

“That’s happened in Germany, between Nurburgring and Hockenheim,” he argued. “So that could be an option.”

Despite concerns about the safety of hosting an event in Saudi Arabi, Prince Abdulaziz believes that the issues such as the nearby missile strike this year are a thing of the past.

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“Most of the concerns were about the security really,” he told Reuters. 

“We met personally with all the team principals and I met personally with all the drivers.

“We spoke about all of these issues and we had an open dialogue with them now.”