Saudi Arabia’s race against time to host Grand Prix

Jon Wilde
View of the Jeddah corniche, location of the street circuit for the Saudi Arabian GP.

View of the Jeddah corniche, location of the street circuit for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Time is getting tight for Saudi Arabia’s street circuit to be finished for the country’s inaugural grand prix, with Michael Masi saying “there’s a lot to do”.

Work began in April on the Jeddah City Circuit, designed by Hermann Tilke, which has been billed as the “world’s fastest street circuit” and is expected to stage the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix until 2024 when the new Qiddiya motorsport city complex should be up and running.

But with this year’s event scheduled for the weekend of December 3-5, constructors are now in a race against time to get everything ready as the circuit is some way from being completed.

In early October, it was reported work was ongoing 24 hours a day at the complex located in the Corniche area literally a matter of yards from the Red Sea.

Formula 1 recently reported from the scene and it was clear there was still much of the infrastructure not yet ready, while FIA race director Masi confirmed he had also paid a visit and his words were not exactly 100% convincing that everything will be signed off in time.

“I was there a couple of weeks ago and obviously there’s a lot going on there,” said Masi, quoted by The Race. “There’s a huge amount of work happening concurrently.

“But the FIA and F1 are getting daily updates of where things are at and it’s progressing very, very quickly.

“Yes, there’s a lot to do. There’s nothing to deny there. I think everyone will acknowledge there’s a lot to do.

“But I’m still confident of the race going ahead.”

At 3.837 miles in length, Jeddah will be not only F1’s longest street circuit but also the second longest on the calendar behind Spa.

Masi compared the stress in building it to similar ventures in India and Korea, which were short-lived additions to the Formula 1 roster.

“Both of those went off, no problems at all, and I’m quite confident Saudi will be exactly the same,” he said.

The Australian added that all track and safety-related aspects at Jeddah are the “critical things” that need to be ready and that he has “no concerns from that perspective”.

“They will comply with every safety requirement,” he said. “I’m very confident of that.”


As for not satisfying those requirements, Masi said he was “very, very hopeful and confident we won’t even get anywhere near”.

He added: “Everyone we normally use is there in force and doing a fantastic job.

“There are areas that are absolutely complete. The quality of work is fantastic, first class.

“They will finish. I have confidence.”


Planet F1 verdict


Will Saudi Arabia GP be ready in time?

Will Saudi Arabia GP be ready for its first F1 race?