Saudi Arabia in talks with Formula One over possible F1 race in 2021
Saudi Arabia and Liberty Media Corporation, the new owner of Formula One, are reportedly discussing the possibility of conducting a race in the kingdom in 2021.
Although Liberty Media is known for wanting to spread Formula One races to multiple locations in the Middle East, this specific decision is taking longer than others.
The 10 Formula One racing teams have been consulted on the matter due to two main reasons, the first of which is the expansion of the race schedule, which currently stands at 22 races. According to current Managing Director of Ferrari Gestione Sportiva, Mattia Binotto, after careful and ongoing consideration, there is a likelihood that this number will rise to 24 or 25 races by 2021.
The second reason is the concern over human rights, gender equality, and freedom of the press in the kingdom – a pressing matter that has caused the country some difficulties in past.
This would not mark the first Formula One race to take place in the Arab region, as many have been held in Bahrain at the Bahrain International Circuit and in Abu Dhabi at the Yas Marina Circuit.
In addition to that, a five-year contract was signed with MBC Sport, allowing the latter to broadcast all the races to people in the Middle East and North Africa regions free-of-charge.
Saudi Arabia is a key location and audience to gain a quicker access to the region’s millions of sports fans.
The country started paving the way for a Formula One race in 2018 by hosting its first Formula E race, where all race cars are electric instead of fuel-run. The country now holds these races every year, based on a 10-year contract, in Ad Diriyah E-Prix. The next event is set to launch this November.
Saudi Arabia has been ticking many firsts off its Vision 2030 list
In 2018, the Saudi General Sports Authority signed a 10-year deal with the WWE corporation to hold wrestling events in the kingdom. The move came as part of the sports authority’s efforts to boost sporting initiatives, as it had already been preparing to host the Formula One Grand Prix and the Super World Boxing Cup final last May.
In April last year, WWE hosted a four-day tryout at the King Abdullah Sports City Sports Hall in Jeddah, from which Saudi athletes Faisal Kurdi and Hussain Aldagal were picked – this June – to train at the wrestling company’s U.S. performance center.
To simplify the process of entering the kingdom for entertainment purposes, Saudi Arabia rolled out in 2018 the option of an e-visa that allows foreigners to attend sporting events and concerts.
This took place right before the Ad Diriyah E-Prix event on Dec. 15, which witnessed over 60,000 attendees in a non-segregated crowd, with live music by international artists.