Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

New street race in Saudi Arabia likely to join 2021 F1 calendar

2021 F1 calendar

Posted on

| Written by and

The first grand prix in Saudi Arabia looks increasingly likely to form part of the 2021 F1 calendar.

A street race is being planned in the Middle Eastern’s country’s second-largest city, Jeddah, which is home to around 3.5 million people.

The city had previously been tipped to host a one-off race next year prior to F1’s relocation to an ambitious, purpose-built facility which is being built in the multi-billion pound entertainment complex Qiddiya. However delays to this project resulting from the global pandemic mean the Jeddah circuit may hold more than one race over the coming years.

Formula 1 is keen to cement its ties with Saudi Arabia after signing a lucrative, long-term sponsorship deal with the Saudi Arabian Oil Company. Its Aramco signage has been highly visible at races this year, and it has title naming rights to the Hungarian, Spanish and Eifel grands prix.

In order to allow maximum time for track construction, the race may be held late in the year immediately prior to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina, which is contracted to hold the season finale.

Saudi Arabia has already held other major motorsport events including Formula E, which held its first race in Ad Diriyah near the capital Riyadh in 2018, and this year’s Dakar rally.

For the latest developments in the 2021 F1 calendar read the new edition of Dieter Rencken’s RacingLines column later today on RaceFans.

Don't miss anything new from RaceFans

Follow RaceFans on social media:

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2021 F1 season

Browse all 2021 F1 season articles

Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

84 comments on “New street race in Saudi Arabia likely to join 2021 F1 calendar”

  1. So what’s on the menu for t-shirt..

    1. @paiajay Will be cringe to watch the inevitable hypocrisy of the woke crowd staying completely silent and hiding.

      1. That’s not hyprocrisy @balue, just sayin. But if it turns into a woke vs unwoke weekend, that’ll be quite cool I think, with F1 and more or less all our heroes being woke :)

      2. Seems like the anti equality team got out earlier than anyone else to pre-complain about anyone who doesn’t agree with them. What’s on your t shirt ? A red neck?

        1. Excuse me, but shouldn’t equality be equal for all? Or it’s just about race, black vs white to be specific? This is Saudi Arabia, a place where that racial war you have in the US sounds like a fairy tale. I’d send you all to S. Arabia for a year, just so you learn that your problems aren’t the only ones that matter (if they can be called serious problems at all). In S. Arabia they still have REAL slavery, as well as in UAE. They bring SE Asians in (by promising better life), then confiscate their documents and force them info labor (up to 20h a day shifts, salary lower than in Venezuela). Of course, if they break any religious law (no matter if they are Muslim or not) there’s always a possibility of public stoning or beheading. Their ruler sends assassins to other countries where they chop journalists and other “dissidents” into tiny pieces, then flush them down the toilet or something (and it’s real, not some youtube conspiracy theory). Yet none of this matters at all and brave, righteous L. Hamiltons of this world pretend not to see it, while they earn cash by racing there. And that would be fine, if they weren’t so full of human rights, racial equality and what not while their feet are placed in Europe or the Americas (those evil places). And then the whole F1 circus will go to the real-life Mordor itself and be good and silent as bees.

      3. Presumably though, you agree that it’s more important to publicise human rights issues than to avoid being hypocritical? It’s more important to reduce the number of human rights violations in the world than for people to be consistent, right?

    2. #WeRaceAsOne – (except for women and gays)

    3. Ha @paiajay well can Vlad win anyway? If the Tee is plain everyone will be talking about how the message has been suppressed by ze mean regime!

      1. Oh for Vlad read Mohammed or whoever. It’s a delicious irony that these backward regimes are always seeking the approval of the western democracies, and when we rock up it brings our influence and criticism.

  2. This is great news. After rebranded it to Aramco-F1, F1 finally came to its root of fossil fuel country. It’s like football coming home.

    1. Maybe that’s why they are in such a hurry as F1 is moving out of fossil fuels.

      1. Ah. When it’s happen, having a race in a countries who tear down million acres of its rain forest would be a coming home. Brazil if they use bio-ethanol or Indonesia if they use bio-diesel.

        1. Synthetic fuels (not biofuels) will be based on carbon capture fueled by green (solar/wind/waves/water) energy.
          This is the perfect innovation for F1 to pioneer and which can extend the life of the ICE (and maybe F1 as a sport).

          I believe the first working prototype was in Switzerland, thus the home GP will be in France.

          1. Maybe in next two decade if there’s still be an F1. Brazil already used 25% ethanol fuel, Indonesia 30% bio-diesel widely available in public gas station, while F1 now only forced to use 5.75% of bio-components.

            F1 couldn’t be the leader when they were far behind. And in no way F1 will ever let only one fuel suppliers when it was their life line.

      2. I like that headline @coldfly

        “how F1 will lead the charge…” and Formula E just announced that they managed to be carbon neutral from inception

        ok some things don’t appear to be clear on how they have done it, but still they have an independent certification that allows them to say that

        also, agree with you on the synthetic fuel thing, future will have different technologies on the road, we might just embrace that and make every single one of them as clean as they can be without the fanatism that for some reason revolves around these things

        1. ok some things don’t appear to be clear on how they have done it, but still they have an independent certification that allows them to say that

          I guess any sport can buy green credits to be mathematically carbon-free.
          To make it ‘from inception’ you just have to buy more, and it helps when you haven’t been around for 70 years.
          @johnmilk

          Whereas I support carbon credits and carbon pricing as an economical steering measure, it is ridiculous as a ‘moral highground’ statement. It would be the same as a murderer getting a child and saying that it’s all sorted out.

          1. that’s true @coldfly and from an environmental perspective it’s not enough to be merely carbon neutral from now on – the world needs to be carbon negative because quite a lot of warming has already happened. Some of the carbon credits are of questionable value (to put it charitably) and even the tree planting schemes are potentially destructive (stories of people cutting down forests in order to plant trees for a carbon capture scheme…), to say nothing of the theory that the best way to capture carbon is to not cut down trees in the first place (which is better for biodiversity etc.).

            of course, everything F1 does is just a drop in the ocean, emissions-wise, but that’s not to say it should not ‘take a lead’ on this issue. If F1 – ostensibly a terribly wasteful sport – can show the world it has ‘gone green’, it sends quite a powerful message to other industries about what can be done. even if the current movement is just a PR exercise, it could be a valuable one.

  3. But whether it would eventually happen as early as next year will, of course, be to an extent dependent on the COVID situation given that this would be a temporary track rather than a permanent one. Nevertheless, it’d indeed have to be at the same time of the year with either one of the present venues in the Arabian Peninsula for climatic reasons, although all three could take place at the tail-end of the season.
    Slightly off-topic, but as it’s in the article, the part about Abu Dhabi having the right to serve as the final event for each season, I wonder, why wasn’t it the final one also from 2011 to 2013? The first two seasons in F1, it was, but not for the following three until regaining this status for 2014. Was there any particular reason for these three exceptions as it never really came to light?

  4. Oh great news F1. Well done! Now how about those races in North Korea, Iran and Belarus? We don’t want any dodgy regime to miss out do we. Keep up the great standards!

    1. +100. And I hope some companies decide to pull their sponsorship for a Saudi race. Maybe Mercedes could paint their car red to signify the blood of those killed in this dictatorship.

  5. Unfortunately i believe this is the end of the road for Interlagos… They had a contract till 2020, Liberty wasn’t very happy with the contract and the organizers weren’t impressed with how they were left out of the Covid affected calendar(plus Globo isn’t renewing its TV contract) . I don’t want to be correct, but i fear that we saw the last race of Interlagos

    1. The way they sort of tricked their way into having that contract was exactly why Liberty was not in the least motivated to try and get them on the calendar. The way Brazil is failing in adressing Covid off course did not help Interlagos either @miltosgreekfan

      1. @bascb Yeah, the way they did the deal when the switch from Bernie to Liberty happened wasnt ideal financial wise for Liberty and they might have a bad feel about it, but Brazil is one of the main markets , Interlagos is an excellent circuuit and its well loved amongst fans, it would be a crime to lose the event and a lot of negativity would be trasferred to its replacement(Saudi in this case)

        1. It was a bad move from Bernie on Liberty @miltosgreekfan and it was stupid of the Interlagos owners to think they would not feel a backlash from Liberty in the future for the backhanded deal. It seems Brazil is not that much of a core market anymore, with less and less TV viewers and no brazillian presence in F1 at the moment nor any on the horizon.

          Also, none of the teams were happy going there after the boatload of incidents with armed robberies etc in recent years (talking about crime). And well, if the track is not willing to pay, then it just will lose out. Also, didn’t internal Brazillian politics hurt the venue (preferring Rio, in a place where there is no track ready?)

          1. @bascb In a way Liberty took its ”revenge” now, that they eliminated any hope of the race happening in 2020. Brazil will have to pay to keep the race and im sure they will pay, but its true that the sport is detaching from Brazil. They wanted to built a new circuit in Rio but many drivers said this wasnt the best idea and i think the idea has stalled.

          2. Interlagos was on the way out because of the issues with crime as well as the inability of the operator to find the money to pay for staging the race @miltosgreekfan. And since there are others who are able to pay, they get a race instead.

            It is always sad to see these great tracks be dropped from the calendar, only too often for meh tracks like Sochi, Abu Dhabi etc.

      2. @bascb What happened exactly? How did they ‘trick’ Liberty?

        1. Bernie used an option there was in his last days to lock Liberty into having to keep racing at Interlagos without the track having to pay a race fee @peaschli

    2. @miltosgreekfan I couldn’t agree more with you. The things you mentioned are precisely how I view this case as well. I wouldn’t bet against Interlagos not being on next year’s race calendar either, or for the time being in general.

        1. F1 sold the Brazilian TV rights to Rio Motorsports. Rio Motorsports is building a circuit outside of Rio. MotoGP sold their TV rights to Rio Motorsports and will race at the track beginning in 2022. I imagine that F1 will be back in Brazil at the Rio track in 2022, after a one-year hiatus.

  6. Races in the Middle East are invariably held late in the year for one other reason – temperature. It’s only from about September to December that the Saudi outdoors is livable. Can imagine those F1 cars in the 50 Celcius heat of a Saudi summer – the drivers would probably die of heat stroke inside their cars.

    1. Nights aren’t that hot in the middle east though, so that might be one way to go. And don’t forget that F1 has raced in Singapore and Malaysia, where it isn’t just hot but also humid, which is harder to cope with than dry heat you get in a desert.

      1. it’s not that hot in Singapore. it’s about 35C in the “autumn”. the humidity is high of course, but I think it’s preferrable to the 50C of the Gulf summer

        1. @nickthegreek High-20s to low-30s for most of the year with the occasional mid-30s figures. Yes, the Gulf can get up to 50, but high-30s to mid-40s for the most part in the hottest months. Within the climate zone of Singapore, Malaysia, etc., the only thing to take into account is the rainy-season as the temps are relatively stable all-year-round.

    2. @NeverElectric Or early in the year – May to September is essentially the period when more or less the entirety of the Arabian Peninsula is unpleasant for outdoor activities. November to March/April is perfectly pleasant there.
      @bascb Maybe not in the winter, later autumn, and earlier in the spring, but in the hottest time of year, even the lowest temps are high, potentially reaching up to the mid-30s. The Middle East simply is entirely out of the question for the above months, especially the ones in between. Considerably hotter than ideal for F1. The early and late-season phases of the seasons are the way to go for these places. Singapore and Malaysia don’t get as hot as Bahrain and Abu Dhabi in the hottest months, though, as they’re consistently around 30 C, so more or less non-existent fluctuation in temps between the coolest and the warmest month of the year.

    3. No rule preventing an air con in the car.

  7. Police brutality in the US – #WeRaceAsOne, End Racism, black livery, Black Lives Matter helmet. Journalist brutally murdered by Saudi Arabian agents – let’s host a race there in name of inlcusion and diversity!

    1. Absolutely. Hence my comment above. What rank hypocrisy.

    2. … and lets get lots of sponsorship from the most polluting company on the planet, presumably to show their ‘green credentials’….

    3. Dissident poisoned by nerve agent only the government could possess. Wait, that’s a different race.

      1. Dissident who had approval rating of only 2% among younger generations. Who has been allowed to be immediately transferred to German, where they can detect traces of the nerve agent supposedly they don’t know. Of which he has got recovered just in 3 weeks. Cool story bro, but noone believes it in Russia.

        And that nerve agent was actually in production in United States, Britain and Germany from 1990’s.

    4. The Rothchild and Soros co. back those agendas to cause chaos and disruption to bring down the western world, they don’t care about race. On the other hand much of their money is linked to Saudia Arabia…..

  8. Oh, what an unexpected surprise…

    And before the race you can stone and whip people or better infidels to death, there will be separate entrances for women, who must all wear burka’s and are not allowed to be filmed.

    After the race the critical journalists will be questioned by the crown prince’s bodyguard at an embassy of their choosing.

    1/3 of the season will be run in countries, where people don’t have basic human rights.

    As we have seen with China, anything goes when money is involved.

    1. I’m not saying it’s perfect but human rights have advanced a lot in Saudi Arabia in the past years. by the way, WWE has been in Saudi Arabia as well (last year), women were allowed to watch along with the men too. the female fighters (if you’d call them that) just had to dress a little more modestly , apart from that it looks normal

      1. Killing and dismembering journalists is the new normal too, isn’t it?!

      2. Ah, things have progressed since the regime allowed women to actually watch sports in the stadium. Seated next to men non the less @nickthegreek. Call me less than impressed.

      3. Well ontop of that Saudi Arabia is the instigator, proponent, influencer and financer of wahabism and therefore has promoted worldwide islamic terrorism the last decades.

        They are an enemy of the West and of religious freedom around the world.

        But apparently when you have enough money, anything is acceptable even when it diametrically oppose every norm and value…

        It really disgusts me, what a Sad Sad day to be an F1 Fan.

  9. Wonder what Lewis will have on his shirt when be walks onto the podium…..

    1. I cannot defend KSA or any of these states, but it’s not a useful criticism. Should he stand up for the Rohinga, the Uighurs, Russian dissidents, Belarus political prisoners, U.S. death-row prisoners, etc.? He could. But he is one man with one platform. And he exposes himself to a world of abuse for the little that he does, including from the people who have never lifted a finger for anyone but their parents or children.

  10. Fantastic. I hope the key figures of the paddock will preach about equality, stopping racism and oppression and then will hop into the cockpit, happily racing around the Circuit of Jamal Khashoggi.

  11. Cool.

    We now need to get as many women, gay, bisexual and ethnic minority people as possible into prominent positions within F1 before the Saudi race.

    Maybe a few Saudi-born reporters that now live abroad and are critical of the regime too…

  12. #WeRaceAsOne in dictatorships which violates human rights. Ha.

  13. Good thing F1 is supporting the region after what the Empire has done to the city.

  14. I’m thinking about attending this one myself, maybe after the race I’ll catch a beheading or something.

    1. They should do that as a podium celebration
      Imagine the scenes as Lewis is handed a gold machete as a trophy

  15. Great! Now I feel even better about illegally streaming F1 races.

  16. will F1 ever show some self-respect and refuse the money from such states? I mean, have anyone in charge of decisions at F1 ever even googled Saudi Arabia on a browser? Man…and people thought Bahrein was already across the line of decency… this is in another field completely

    1. @alfa145 the thing is, apart from making a series of snide remarks on this site, what else are the fans doing against such races? There is a show of public criticism, but it feels often like many can’t be bothered to put any action in beyond that.

      For all the criticism that Bahrain faced in the past about human rights abuses, for example, many here seem to have quickly forgotten about their outrage at the time and seem to have salved their conscience by convincing themselves that their initial indignation was enough.

      In the same way that a number of other nations have faced similar complaints, I suspect many here will pat themselves on the back for their brief moment of indignation on this site and then, after congratulating themselves on that, will then proceed to sit down and watch the race despite, or perhaps even intentionally setting aside, any of the qualms they might have about the nation the race is taking place in.

      1. I have so say this is a cynical and unfair criticism of those who voice concern for others in this instance. No one is going to pat herself on the back and consider the job done for making a comment on the internet. What is going to happen is that people will face again the limits of the actions available to them, including a boycott, and feel frustrated and ignored. It’s not like criticism of KSA domestic and foreign policy is new. And yet the West does not refrain from buying their oil, sending FDI, and selling them weapons. It would be more refreshing to direct attacks against the sincerity of those with the power and financial ability to back their professed values than ordinary people expressing concern that a sport doesn’t represent their values.

        1. @dmw there are many here who repeat the mantra that power is in the hands of the consumer and that fans should boycott watching those races to send a commercial message to those running the sport – but, when it comes to it, how many have put their words into actions and then proceed to actually go ahead with the boycott they have said they would follow?

          Does it not seem hypocritical for people to criticise the sport for holding the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix and to claim they would boycott the event, only for it to turn out that viewing figures actually went up for the 2012 race? Did that not actually given the organisers more of a propaganda victory, given that so many said one thing in public forums and then did something rather different in the privacy of their own homes?

          That’s the issue – it’s one thing to say we should “direct attacks against the sincerity of those with the power and financial ability to back their professed values”, but how many actually have the interest to maintain that pressure or even bother to raise such complaints in the first place?

          Yes, there there is just criticism that can be levelled at those who may be leading but, at the same time, where is the sustained pressure on them to act differently? The same remove that leads some to feel “frustrated and ignored” is also used by others to justify a sense of indifference with the attitude “well, nothing I do will change anything, so why bother trying in the first place?”.

          It is a cynicism that comes from seeing how people acted, followed by their subsequent indifference, in 2012. The viewing figures then suggest that a lot of fans were not prepared to back up their public threats of a boycott when push came to shove, which is why I have a feeling that there will be a number of individuals who, privately, will tune in even though they say they won’t to a race in Saudi Arabia.

          In so doing, those fans give the commercial support and legitimacy that both the Saudi Arabian authorities and Liberty Media are seeking, just as they did back in 2012 with the Bahraini authorities.

  17. A lot of cynicism about the Saudi GP and I have to agree and really can’t say anything in its favour. But as we know business has no morals just a profit & loss ledger.

  18. Outside of concerns already raised I can’t say i’m looking forward to seeing what will no doubt end up been another samey cookie cutter (Street) circuit added to the calender.

    Maybe they will surprise with a mega circuit with a completely different look/feel to most of the other modern circuits…. I just can’t see it.

  19. I hope we get a track similar to Baku, but a little better with 2 massive straights and less mickey mouse sections of 90 degree turns

  20. When we got Mugello, Nurburgring, Imola, Istanbul and Portimao I thought maybe Liberty and learned what the fans wanted and were listening. Nope! It turns out the cool circuits were just their last resort.

  21. Saudi Arabia street circuit? I thought that after the new calander for this seasons, with lots of good circuits, they learned there lesson, but nope, another circuit just for the money, money, money; it’s all about the money, money, money.

  22. Apparently the Australian gp will probably be cut for next year, and maybe there after. So liberty has to find venues elsewhere.

    1. If Saudi is on the table for a GP then any GP on the calendar could be replaced because there are tons of toilet countries in the world with lots of money.

  23. Ka-Ching, Ka-Ching, Ka-Ching, kneel for BLM, Ka-Ching, Ka-Ching, Ka-Ching, murder another journalist, Ka-Ching, Ka-Ching, Ka-Ching, supress, enslave, abuse, Ka-Ching$$$$

  24. I’ve refused offers of work there and I think I’ll do the same for their race.

  25. The glory calendar of Mugello, Portimao, Imola, Nurburgring, Istanbul and now back to Oil Rich middle east and with a street circuit.

  26. Let me be the first to say this:

    I WILL BOYCOTT THE 2021 SAUDI ARABIA GP

  27. Shame…its always about money.

  28. I think after this season I won’t watch anymore if they get rid of all the good circuits and add Saudi Arabia.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.
If the person you're replying to is a registered user you can notify them of your reply using '@username'.