Saudi open to idea of hosting two F1 races
JEDDA, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is open to the possibility of hosting two Formula 1 races per season in the future, Prince Khalid bin Sultan al-Abdullah al-Faisal, chairman of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, said.
The third round of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will take place this weekend in Jeddah, but work is already underway at the country’s second F1 circuit in Qiddiya.
The Qiddiya track, part of a larger construction project 40 kilometers from Riyadh, is not expected to be ready for racing until 2027 and was originally intended to replace Jeddah. But with two F1 circuits in Saudi Arabia in the future, there is potential for two races a year, according to Prince Khalid.
“The idea of holding two races in Saudi Arabia is quite feasible,” said Prince Khalid. “Formula 1 is growing, there is a lot of demand here, and because Saudi Arabia is big, the regions are so far away, it’s like [United] states.
“You have three races in the States because there is a big market and there is demand. There is demand, but no decision has been made yet.
“There are a lot of things we need to consider and I don’t know if we want to do two races here, would that be practical and doable for the FOM and the teams?
“We built this track [Jeddah] to the last one, so theoretically yes, we can have two races. The sport is developing, the demand is growing, so I won’t be surprised if Saudi Arabia hosts two races in the near future, I won’t be surprised.
“The demand is there and we have two great properties.”
Asked if Saudi Arabia is in talks with F1 about a second race, he added: “No, it’s too early. It’s too early, but from what I’m seeing F1 growth and also Saudi Arabia’s growth, like I said we’re a very big country, we have the biggest population and the strongest economy.
“There are a lot of things that we need to consider, but I’m sure people in Saudi Arabia would be happy to have a race in Qiddiya and Jeddah, we can offer two races. Even if it does, it will be two races. unique races, it will be two different unique races for what I see and what is planned for Qiddiya.
“So you’re going to have two unique places, different regions, I’m sure if you’re going to do that, it’s going to be two different… I mean one at the beginning and one at the end. early for that, but I wouldn’t be surprised.”
Saudi Arabia has also been linked to the opening race of the 2024 season to avoid overlapping with the month of Ramadan, which runs from March 10 to April 8. Prince Khalid said the timing of the opening Formula 1 race next year means either Bahrain or Saudi Arabia will take the place.
“The problem is that we will have Ramadan – Ramadan moves 10 days every year, 11 days earlier,” he said. “And one of us, it will be either Saudi Arabia or Bahrain, which can race before Ramadan, and after Ramadan the weather is hot in April and May.
“So March is the last time the weather is right. We saw the races being held in April in Bahrain and it was too hot. So it’s either us or Bahrain, but as I said, we need to discuss this with the FOM and the team, and then we make a decision.
“Otherwise, it will move somewhere, I mean, to October or after October, when the weather starts to improve in our region.”