Saudi Arabia’s motorsport chief has confirmed the Middle Eastern country’s new Qiddiya complex should be able to stage Formula 1 in 2024.
A first ever Saudi Arabian Grand Prix street race has been scheduled for December 5 this year, but the plan is for that circuit in Jeddah to be only a temporary venue until the new “motorsport city” is completed.
Hermann Tilke is designing the Jeddah street circuit, for which the intention is provide a more thrilling race than, for example, Monaco where overtaking is extremely difficult due to the narrow nature of the roads.
But there are grand plans for the long term, with the desert kingdom clearly anticipating being on the Formula 1 calendar for the foreseeable future.
“We are big fans of motorsport and we think in Saudi Arabia we have all it takes and needs to organise events such as the Dakar Rally, Formula E and Formula 1,” said HRH Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal, president of the Saudi Arabia Motorsport Federation, in an interview on the Cross-Country Rally YouTube account.
“I think we have proved it with Formula E and Dakar and especially with the current global situation, we want to deliver to our people what they want.
“We don’t want to be [just] another city, so our goal is to deliver something new. We know street circuits are not really exciting for motorsport because they are limited with the place they are, so sometimes overtaking is very difficult which makes the race somehow boring.
“Our idea for Formula 1 is to host it in Riyadh. We are building a very big motorsport city which will be finished at the end of 2023/beginning of 2024 and will have rally cross, karting, drag, circuit, so it will be for all type of motorsport.”
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Prince Khalid also outlined plans for the street race which, as things stand, is scheduled to be the penultimate round of the World Championship.
“Part of it is building a grade one circuit for Formula 1,” he said. “But 2024 is too far and we wanted to host Formula 1 before that, so we thought a street race would be an option until our track is finished.
“We saw we have a lovely corniche in Jeddah. I think it will be lovely scenery and we want the track to be fast – we didn’t want a nice vibe, a nice city but a boring track.
“So we’ve hired the best, we are working with Tillke and Formula 1 together to build the fastest street circuit, so I can promise you the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jeddah will not be a typical street race.
“It will be exciting, it will be fast and there will be overtaking. Hopefully that’s what you will experience on 5th December 2021.”