Saudi Arabia to open 2024 season as Melbourne extends F1 deal again

2024 F1 season

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The Albert Park circuit in Melbourne has secured a two-year extension on its contract to hold the Australian Grand Prix.

However the event in the Victorian capital will no longer host the season-opening race of 2024. That is expected to be taken over by Saudi Arabia.

Melbourne has held Australia’s round of the world championship since 1996. Its new deal will keep it on the schedule until at least 2037.

Its last contract extension was announced just six months ago. The extension to it has come about after the race promoters agreed to postpone its return to the coveted slot as the first event of the season, which was planned for 2024.

Melbourne last held the opening round of the world championship in 2019. It was due to do so in 2020 but the event was cancelled hours before practice began, due to rising concerns over the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Albert Park race is the third round on the 2023 F1 calendar but had agreed to open the following season. It has relinquished that place after the promoters of the Bahrain and Saudi Arabian grands prix requested their 2024 races do not coincide with the observance of Ramadan, which will take place between March 10th and April 9th that year.

A statement issued by the Australian state of Victoria claimed Saudi Arabia will host the first race of 2024. It will be the fourth year in a row an F1 season has opened with a race in the Middle East. Australia is expected to take over the season-opening slot in 2025.

Extensive modifications were made to the Albert Park circuit for this year’s race. Next year Formula 2 and Formula 3 will join F1 as support races at the event for the first time.

“To have secured what is now 15 years of further tenure for the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne is an outstanding outcome,” said the Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO Andrew Westacott.

“It provides so many benefits to our city, our economy and our exceptional events industry, not to mention the aspiration it provides to young Australians pursuing their dreams in motorsport.”

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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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10 comments on “Saudi Arabia to open 2024 season as Melbourne extends F1 deal again”

  1. Money talks.

    1. If this were the case, Saudi GP would’ve already been the season-opener this year & continuously from next year, like Abu Dhabi GP has been the closing event since 2014.

      1. Money talks Jere, but there are different sources of money and different contractual obligations. They are doing what they can, even greed isn’t always omnipotent.

    2. It always has. But at least from a logistical standpoint Bahrain to Saudi Arabia is a lot better than Bahrain to Australia.

  2. Surprising since AusGP was supposed to open the 2024 season as part of their previous extension.
    Weird that Saudis want their event to occur before Ramadan begins even though holding it after is equally okay.
    As the 2024 Ramadan period is 10.3-8.4, only the first March weekend is suitable for any early-season Middle East event.
    Either the SA GP occurs on 3.3 with Bahrain & Qatar GPs post-Ramadan (& possibly AusGP on 10.3), or 25.2, followed by Bahrain, Qatar, or Australia on the following weekend, in which cases, either one Middle East event post-Ramadan or both. We’ll see. However, AusGP could open the season on 25.2 with SA seven days later, but oh well.

    1. I think that Ramadan thing sounds too good to be true. They made it up so they at least have “something around their bones” rather than we want to buy the opening round from Australia/Bahrain

  3. Good old liberty and F1. They will virtually do anything for money. No credibility whatsoever.

  4. Religion should have no place in politics. Middle East countries should not be able to pick and choose their place based on religion.
    Nobody is forcing them to do Ramadan, but we have to move a whole calendar around to pander to it? No.

    1. Mar, whilst I would agree that religion shouldn’t affect politics, I also have to acknowledge that this is just our opinion, not something which is self-evidently true. People who are deeply religious would think religion, culture, and politics should go hand in hand. We could argue until we were blue in the face, but neither side would win over the other.

  5. Yeah, because he [cough] deserves it [cough cough]

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