F1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Promoters See Possibility of Two Races There by 2027
The Jeddah Corniche Circuit was initially intended to host only a couple of Formula 1 events before Saudi Arabia’s Grand Prix moved to Qiddiya.
Currently, just Italy (Imola and Monza) and the United States (Miami, Austin and new-for-2023 Las Vegas) host more than one Grand Prix.
Saudi Arabian Prince Khalid on the possibility of his country joining the club: “Well, if you see, Saudi Arabia is a very big market, we have a strong economy.
Organizers of Formula 1’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix have opened the door to holding two Grands Prix annually once its new project in Qiddiya is completed.
Saudi Arabia has expanded its presence in Formula 1 in recent years with the country having joined the calendar in 2021. A high-speed semi-permanent facility was constructed alongside the corniche of second city, Jeddah, with the venue hosting its third Formula 1 event this weekend.
The Jeddah Corniche Circuit was initially intended to host only a couple of Formula 1 events before Saudi Arabia’s grand prix moved to Qiddiya. Qiddiya is an entertainment, sports and arts city being constructed close to capital Riyadh and one of the focal points will be a Formula 1-spec circuit.
Officials in the country are keen to finish the construction of Qiddiya before Formula 1’s arrival and that means Jeddah will remain as the host of Saudi Arabia’s race through at least 2026.
Most nations on Formula 1’s calendar host only a single round annually, though Italy (Imola and Monza) and the United States (Miami, Austin and new-for-2023 Las Vegas) both have multiple Grands Prix.
Saudi Arabia could join that list by 2027, when Qiddiya is completed.
“They are redoing the masterplans because things change on these big projects. We can’t just build a track and be surrounded by construction sites,” said Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al Abdullah Al-Faisal, chairman of both the Saudi Motorsports Federation and promoter Saudi Motorsports Company. “It’s a permanent circuit but part of it is inside the city, beside hotels and more so it’s like a hybrid between a (permanent) and a street circuit. There’s going to be hotels, there’s going to be parks, there’s going to be a lot of things around it.
“We can’t just finish the track and we move the race to Qiddiya while it’s a construction site. This will take longer than maybe expected. We think we will go there in ’27 and ’28. We want to take our time, we want to make Qiddiya right, we want it to be a very special track, a very special location. So we’re taking our time in Jeddah before we move to Qiddiya.”
When the notion was raised that both Jeddah and Qiddiya could host Grands Prix in Saudi Arabia, Prince Khalid replied: “Well, if you see, Saudi Arabia is a very big market, we have a strong economy. The idea of having two races in Saudi is doable. F1 is growing, there is a lot of demand here and because Saudi is big, the regions are so far away, it’s like the (United) States.
“You have three races in the States because the market is big there and there is a demand. The sport is growing, the demand is growing, so I would not be surprised if Saudi, in the near future, will host two races, I wouldn’t be surprised. The demand is there and we (will) have two beautiful facilities.”
Much like Formula 1’s trio of events in the United States, Prince Khalid expressed confidence that two Grands Prix in Saudi Arabia would not overlap or detract from the other.
“Even if that happens, it’s going to be two unique races, they are going to be two different unique races, for what I’m seeing and what is planned for Qiddiya,” he said. “So you’re going to have two unique venues, different regions, I’m sure if you’re going to do it, it’s going to be two different… I mean one at the beginning (of the season) and one at the end.”
Saudi Arabia is also in discussions with Formula 1 over hosting the opening round of the 2024 season.
Both Bahrain—F1's season-opener since 2021—and Saudi Arabia this year were scheduled before Ramadan, which begins on March 22, though next year the festival will commence earlier, on March 10.
“We would love to have the opening race, but I’m sure this is something that we should discuss now before the announcement of the calendar,” he said. “One of us, either Saudi or Bahrain, can have a race before Ramadan, and after Ramadan (finishes), the weather in April and May is hot.
“(The 2024 opener) is either going to be us or Bahrain, but as I said, we need to discuss with FOM (Formula 1 Management) and the teams, and then we make our decision. Otherwise, (the event) will shift to somewhere (such as) October or after October, where the weather starts to get better in our region.”