Saudi GP set to stay in Jeddah until 2025

Jamie Woodhouse
Turn 1 at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. December 2021.

Turn 1 at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Saudi Arabia December 2021.

The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is now set for an extended stay at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit through to 2025.

Formula 1 added a new night race to its calendar for 2021, as the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was held around the newly-built Jeddah Corniche Circuit street track.

The venue proved to be a high-speed addition to the calendar with very little margin for error, though it is considered a temporary home for the event, as plans are in place to move to a new, purpose-built venue as part of the Qiddiya project.

However, according to Martin Whitaker, CEO of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Association, the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is now likely to stay in Jeddah for another five years.

Jeddah Corniche Circuit main straight from above. Saudi Arabia, December 2021.
A view down the main straight at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit. Saudi Arabia, December 2021.

“The original plan was for it to be in Jeddah for three years, but suspect that it will probably be there for probably another two [additional] years to allow Qiddiya to properly mature – so five years in total,” he told media personnel.

“We’re all waiting on what’s happening with Qiddiya, because the contract for a grand prix in Saudi Arabia is for 15 years.

“The majority of those years, it will take place in Qiddiya.

“Qiddiya is effectively in the planning stage. There’s no track there, there’s no buildings – nothing to speak of anyway. So there’s a lot of work to go now.

“The agreement with Formula 1 is very clear that when Formula 1 moves to Qiddiya, it is a full-blown Formula 1 circuit with all the right environment around it – the infrastructure and everything – so it doesn’t look like a building site. That’s very important.”

It was a race against time to get the Jeddah track ready in time for Formula 1, and though the facility was good to go, not all of the developments had been completed in time for the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Further work has been undertaken since though to modify the track slightly based on driver feedback, as well as continued development to the area surrounding the circuit.

Whitaker hopes that even after Formula 1 has moved away from the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, it will still have a clear future.

 

“We have a lot of events that are interested in coming to Jeddah, we also have a lot of local events as you would expect – corporate events, product launches, community events, charity events, etc,” he explained.

“And we’ve already started to run those – our first event was a Ferrari Owners’ Club event, which we ran in in December.

“And don’t forget the legacy of the circuit is that there’s now a marina, there are now 18 or 20 restaurants on the promenade area and we’ve extended the corniche so that the Jeddah community have access to this wonderful facility and the leisure facilities.

“There are outside gyms, beach soccer, beach volleyball, paddle tennis, cycling, etc. So there’s a lot of good stuff which will remain there even after the circuit’s gone.

“But we would certainly hope that the circuit has a long-term future. Not necessarily as a Formula 1 circuit, but certainly as a circuit.”