Formula One organizers confirmed last week plans to host a race in Saudi Arabia in 2021.
The future Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will be a night race to be held in the commercial hub of Jeddah, on the Red Sea coast, and will take place in the month of November. A street circuit will initially host the race but there are plans to build a permanent racetrack in nearby Qiddiya at some point.
The news doesn’t come as a surprise as Saudi Arabia, despite its decades-long human rights abuses and war on neighboring Yemen, had been under consideration for hosting of a race for some time. Aramco, the country’s national oil company, also became a key sponsor of F1 in 2020, with the company’s logo featured prominently at each round.
The new location is part of F1’s plans to add more rounds to the calendar. Prior to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 calendar was already set to host a record 22 rounds, with the Dutch Grand Prix due to make a return and a new Vietnamese Grand Prix also added.
Saudi Arabia will be the 33rd country to host an F1 race. The country has already hosted other international motorsport events such as the Dakar Rally, Formula E and Race of Champions.
“We are excited to welcome Saudi Arabia to Formula One for the 2021 season and welcome their announcement following speculation in recent days,” Chase Carey, CEO of F1, said in a statement. “Saudi Arabia is a country that is rapidly becoming a hub for sports and entertainment with many major events taking place there in recent years, and we are very pleased that Formula One will be racing there from next season.”
A provisional calendar for 2021 will be revealed in the coming weeks.