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Saudi Arabia to stay on calendar for at least a decade, says F1

Jeddah at night. Credits: Formula 1

Formula 1 said it expects to have the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on the calendar for at least ten more years.

The race held in Saudi Arabia is part of the country’s Vision 2030 strategy, a program that intends to reduce its dependence on oil reserves and invest in other areas.

The first race, which will be held in Jeddah, is scheduled for the beginning of December, but it will be moved to another venue in the city of Qaddiya in 2023.

“In terms of Saudi Arabia, it was phenomenal to be able to get that deal agreed, signed, and announced during the pandemic,” Chloe Targett-Adams said in a Blackbook web seminar.

“It’s somewhere we’re really excited about going racing, and it’s a long-term vision of how we want to build our sport in the Middle East.

“We’ve got two amazing partners in the Middle East already on the promotion side, with Abu Dhabi and Bahrain, both long-term relationships, incredibly successful.

“And so to bring on a new Middle Eastern race in a location like Saudi with a hugely young demographic, vast population, interest in the motorsport and automotive sector, and the ability than as a market to tap into Northern Africa and other aspects of the Middle East, provides a really interesting framework for F1.

“The first race this year in Jeddah is on a temporary street circuit, which is coming into shape already, which is no easy feat during a pandemic either. The team in Saudi are doing a phenomenal job in doing that.

“So really looking forward to racing there and just launching F1 in a new market, because that’s always an exciting time.

Talking on the actual term of the contract, Chloe said they expect the race to be on the calendar for at least a decade.

“Well, as a minimum we’re looking at definitely a decade, if not longer.

“It’s important when you go into such a key new market like Saudi to be able to invest.”

“Saudi, given their 2030 vision, what they’re looking to achieve, their objectives, that longer-term investment made sense for how they want to build F1 and motorsport interest within the country. And you look at some of the initiatives that the country is doing currently, and obviously, it’s an education process on both sides.

“But it’s a fascinating country, and the culture and how we relate to that is an area that we’re looking forward to really, really working together with the promoter on.”

Finally, many questions about human rights issues in the country were asked. This problem was already raised as soon as the announcement of the new race came out.

“I think it’s really important to ask the question,” she said. “From F1’s perspective, we choose to engage with partners.

“And we have a framework contractually to set out our expectations on human rights and how we expect to work and our staff expect to work and be treated.

“So it’s something that we actively lean into and learn and educate ourselves about that culture and custom and work with our promoters as it relates to our F1 event,” she concluded.

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