W Series, Brands Hatch, 2019

Saudi Arabia eager for W Series support event at its 2021 F1 race

2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix promoter says it “would love” to include all-women’s championship W Series as a support event at its inaugural Formula 1 race next year.

A street race in Jeddah was confirmed on the 2021 F1 calendar last week. Yesterday W Series and F1 confirmed a new partnership which will see the junior championship appear at eight grands prix.

Under Saudi Arabia’s male guardianship system women face much tighter limits on their freedom than in other countries. Rules banning them from driving cars were only relaxed in 2018, and human rights groups state some women who protested against the laws remain in jail.

A group of women racers participated in a Formula E test when the championship held its first race weekend in Saudi Arabia at the end of 2018.

The president of Saudi Arabia’s motorsport federation prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al Faisal is keen for W Series to come to the country with Formula 1. “I would love to see a race or host them in Saudi Arabia,” he said. “I know there are eight rounds and hopefully we’ll be one of the lucky countries to host them in Saudi Arabia.

“For us in the last two years we really are promoting women and especially women in motor sports. So this is something that we would love. We would like to inspire our locals, we would like to bring them these type of events and we would like to see more ladies or more women racing in Saudi Arabia.”

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Start, Albert Park, 2019
2021 F1 calendar: Guide to next year’s races
Reema al Juffali, a female racer from Jeddah, is competing in the British Formula 4 championship this year.

“Now we are starting with the karting and we have Reema Juffali who is racing in Formula 4,” continued the prince. “For us it’s very important for us to bring them here.

“Sport is for all and we’re really pushing the women and motor sport in Saudi Arabia, we are really taking it seriously. It’s going to be something good to inspire our women here in Saudi Arabia. So hopefully we can get to an agreement and can host them with the Formula 2.”

W Series CEO Catherine Bond Muir said yesterday a race in Saudi Arabia could be an option for the championship. “I have no objection about going to Saudi Arabia provided we can establish a meaningful relationship,” she said. “And I think that would take some time to put together.”

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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...

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12 comments on “Saudi Arabia eager for W Series support event at its 2021 F1 race”

  1. Not in year 1 please. Seems too much like a political stunt.
    Try earning some trust through F1 first, then maybe W series will choose to accept the invite.

    1. @eurobrun

      Seems too much like a political stunt

      That’s what F1 is all about. I’m pretty much sure that they will get what they want provided they will pay the goods. It’s not a coincidence that their race will be scheduled as the penultimate round of the championship as revealed by RaceFans. If there is something positive about the Mercedes dominant era, it’s the fact that only in 2016 the WDC was decided in the ultimate round, 2014 was only due to the double points though.

      1. @tifoso1989 The 2014 WDC would’ve got clinched in the final race, even with standard points. Jeddah’s race got scheduled as the penultimate round solely because of Abu Dhabi’s presence as the final one. Alternatively, it could either precede or follow Bahrain, but early-season isn’t an option time frame-wise, so alongside Abu Dhabi instead.

  2. Rules banning [women] from driving cars were only relaxed in 2018

    A group of women racers participated in a Formula E test when the championship held its first race weekend in Saudi Arabia at the end of 2018

    What an interesting coincidence that restrictions on women driving were relaxed just in time for a Formula E race. It’s almost as if international sport can serve as a motivation for enacting social change. 🤔

    Nah, I’m sure all the internet commenter are right that this is all just a “publicity stunt.”

    1. I’m pretty sure the woman who was fighting for these changes is still in a prison somewhere being tortured on a regular basis. That is how much they care.

    2. Actually the country changing that rule was a premise to Formula E actually coming to race. So indeed not a coincidence but rather a result of that Gili

  3. @jerejj
    Thanks for the correction though. I don’t know why I was thinking Rosberg was mathematically out of the WDC without the double points.

  4. Of course they want the W series, if you throw a huge bribe, you want a huge return.

    Just like any other racist, misogynistic, murderous, bigoted regime, you have to get value for money. If I was splashing all this cash to cover up my crimes, I wouldn’t want to get a substandard cover up.

  5. This is good news for Formula W. Hopefully infections form the Corona virus won’t prevent next seasons races from going ahead.

  6. So they can drive race cars, but not drive themselves to the circuit.

    Money really does talk for Liberty. Ironic name, eh?

  7. It’s almost like Liberty Media has an a la carte menu for despotic, murderous regimes buying Formula One races. Putin ticks the box labeled “appear on podium with race winners, enhance your political prestige; great photo opportunity.” MBS ticks the box: “W Series support race; enhance your diversity credentials and standing with women.”

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