Saudi Arabia is hopeful of staging two Formula 1 races each season in the near future with a race circuit set to be included in the design of the Qiddiya entertainment city.
This weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will be the third race to be held at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, which first hosted F1 for the penultimate round of the 2021 season.
Saudi Arabian involvement in sport has increased over recent years and, speaking in Jeddah ahead of this weekend’s race, Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Abdullah Al-Faisal, the chairman of the Saudi Motorsport Company, is targeting an increased Saudi presence on the F1 calendar in 2027, with the Qiddiya megaproject – under construction since 2019 – in contention to hold a second race with a semi-street circuit layout.
Per Motorsport Week, he said: “We think we will go there in ’27 and ’28.
“The feedback from FOM and the people who watch the race, they love the track.
“The track is at the centre of Qiddiya. They are re-doing the masterplans because things change on these big projects.
“We can’t just build a track and we are surrounded by construction sites. Part of the track is going inside the city. 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 circuit 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. So we want to go there when the project, the city, is completed.”
With the United States hosting three races in 2023 in Miami, Austin and Las Vegas, the Prince is convinced there is room for more Saudi expansion too.
“Saudi Arabia is a very big market, we have a strong economy,” he added.
“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 States.
“You have three races in the States because the market is big there and there is a demand. The demand is there, [but] the decision is not made.
“There are a lot of things that we need to consider and I don’t know if even we want to host two races here, is it practical and feasible for FOM and the teams?
“We built this track to last, so in theory, yes we can have two races. 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 have two beautiful facilities.”
The Saudi Arabian GP organisers have made no secret of their wish to host the opening round of the 2024 F1 season, before the start of the Islamic festival Ramadan.
The Prince has insisted that if this cannot be arranged, they will instead seek a return to a late-season slot for Jeddah.
“We’d love to host the opening race, and that’s obviously something we should discuss now before the calendar is announced,” he explained.
“We want to hear from the teams because we want what’s best for FOM and what’s best for the teams.
“If that’s the best solution, we’d love to host the opening race, but nothing is fixed at the moment.
“It will either be Saudi Arabia or Bahrain that can have a race before Ramadan.
“After Ramadan, it’s hot in April and May, so March is the last time the weather is suitable. We saw when the races were held in April in Bahrain that it was too hot. But we have to talk to FOM and the teams, and then we will make our decisions.
“Otherwise, it will pass in October or later, when the weather starts to be better in our area.”