Saudi Arabia is reported to be asking to have two races on the Formula 1 calendar in 2024 as the Kingdom looks to benefit further from the pinnacle of motorsport.
Formula 1 has visited Saudi Arabia twice in as many years at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, and is set to introduce an F1 event in Qiddiya – a prospective sports complex near Riyadh.
The event this season was in danger of being axed amid violence taking place a matter of miles away from the race track, but journalist Joe Saward indicates that this may not preclude Formula 1 management from holding a second race in the country.
“I did hear whispers that Saudi Arabia would like to throw its financial weight around a bit more and thinks that a Grand Prix at each end of the season would be a good thing: with one race in the spring in Jeddah and the other in the autumn up in Riyadh,” he wrote in his blog.
“The F1 group may not like the idea much as there are sufficient Middle Eastern races now and there are other priorities, but the Saudis do have an awful [lot] of money and, as the old song goes, this is what makes the world go around.”
After the cancellation of the Russian Grand Prix this year, there is speculation as to which race might be drafted in to replace it, but the options might not be as extensive as first anticipated.
Hockenheim and Malaysia were thrown into the hat by fans, as well as Qatar, which is set to join the calendar full-time in 2023, but Saward suggests that Qatar has dropped out of contention and the two formers were never truly in the conversation, leaving a second race in Singapore as the only viable option.
“The calendar chat at the moment is largely related to which event will replace Russia in September and my understanding is that it will either be a second race in Singapore, or it will be nothing at all, as Qatar seems to have dropped from the equation,” he added.
“Still, the Qatar race will be back in 2023.”
The Briton also responded to suggestions that Germany could be added back to the calendar, and he affirms that Hockenheim would likely be the only possibility, as the Nürburgring is under oligarch ownership – F1 would much prefer not to associate itself with such people at this time.
“I have been hearing for some weeks that the Germans are getting more and more ambitious and want to get a 10-year deal for a race,” explained Saward.
“This is probably only going to happen at Hockenheim as the Nürburgring finds itself in a troublesome situation as it is owned by a Russian oligarch and F1 is not about to do a deal with one of those folk.
“It is bad for the share price. It is also doubtful, by the way, that the Nürburgring will be able to get an international circuit licence as the FIA does not seem to be keen to dole these out to anyone with Russian connections,” he added.