Saudi Arabia in discussions with Liberty Media over hosting F1 race

by Tom Cairns
Qiddiya - Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia have been in talks with Liberty Media of hosting a Formula 1 race in the future.

The Times say that the sport’s teams have been consulted on this possible project and were asked about their opinions on racing in the country.

Whilst F1 would be eager to increase its audience in the Middle East that already includes Sakhir in Bahrain and Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi on the calendar, the international outcry concerns Saudi Arabia’s abuse of human rights and its disregard for gender equality or media freedom. However, Liberty seem content and would be welcome to add Saudi Arabia to the sport’s schedule with caution.

The town of Ad Diriyah in the country has previously hosted the opening round of the 2018-19 ABB FIA Formula E Championship last December and plans to kickstart the next season of its series on the 22-23 November. This particular venue could open the door for Grand Prix racing to enter its streets, providing the considerable changes to its 2.49km circuit, along with appropriate infrastructure being put in place.

Another option for the sport could be in Qiddiya, located in the capital city of Riyadh. This is part of the Saudi Vision 2030 project that aims to reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependency on oil by diversifying its economy into a multitude of sectors including infrastructure, recreation and tourism.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had announced in 2017 that Qiddiya’s development will expand over 330 square kilometers and include resorts, arts and culture, along with its ‘Speed Park’ and a Formula 1 circuit.

On the back of simulated images that were published on social media by Qiddiya, the track layout that is unknown as of yet, features an area where the cars are racing underneath a giant swimming pool.

Phase 1 of Qiddiya’s project is expected to be done by 2023 but it’s unknown whether the venue would include its ‘Speed Park’ infrastructure.

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