The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix (Arabic: جائزة السعودية الكبرى‎) is a Formula One motor racing event that is due to first take place in 2021. The inaugural edition of the race is set to be held in Jeddah. The race is set to be the fourth full night race on the Formula One calendar, following the Singapore, Bahrain and Qatar Grands Prix.[1]

History

In August 2019, plans for a permanent motorsports complex to be built in the city of Qiddiya were made public. The project was conceived by Test and Training International, a motorsports consultancy headed by former Formula One driver Alexander Wurz, with the objective of creating a world-class circuit capable of hosting all FIA categories through to Formula One.[2] In January 2020, plans for a race track in Qiddiya were officially confirmed at an event, where track designer Wurz, appeared alongside current and former Formula One drivers who were given the opportunity to drive on the layout in a racing simulator.[3] During the event, it was confirmed that the track was designed to FIA and FIM Grade 1 standards. At the time, Formula One declined to comment on the possibility of a race.[4]

The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix first appeared on the first draft of the 2021 Formula One provisional calendar, which was shown to teams at a Formula One Commission meeting, held in October 2020.[5] The draft calendar saw all 22 races from the original 2020 calendar carried over, with the addition of Saudi Arabia.[6] In November 2020, it was announced that the city of Jeddah would host the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, in collaboration with the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation.[7] The Jeddah Corniche Circuit will be located along the banks of the Red Sea.[8]

Criticism

The Grand Prix has received criticism from Amnesty International on the grounds of human rights in Saudi Arabia. Human Rights Watch also condemned the decision arguing that “It is part of a cynical strategy to distract from Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses." Formula One responded by saying that "[Formula One has] made our position on human rights and other issues clear to all our partners and host countries who commit to respect human rights in the way their events are hosted and delivered." and that "[Formula One has] worked hard to be a positive force everywhere it races, including economic, social and cultural benefits."[9][10] According to Human Rights Watch, Formula One sports event is being used by Saudi Arabia to distract people from serious human rights abuses. The Global Initiative Director at Human Rights Watch – Minky Worden called upon Formula One to assess situation in Saudi Arabia and insist on releasing women right’s defenders who spoke in favour of women’s right to drive.[11] In February 2021, 45 human rights organizations called on Lewis Hamilton to boycott the Grand Prix citing Saudi Arabia's role in the Yemeni Civil War, its detention of woman's rights activists, and the murder of The Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.[12][13] Saudi Arabia has denied the Grand Prix was being used for sportswashing, arguing that the race is part of a process to open up Saudi Arabia to the outside world.[14]

Following the missile interception in Diriyah during the 2021 Diriyah ePrix, questions were raised about the event's viability.[15][16] Formula One later stated that they would never go to high security risk areas, though they also stated that they had "every confidence that the Saudi government and its agencies have both the technology and capability to ensure this safety and security.”[17]

Circuit

Named as the 'fastest street track' on the Formula One calendar, with Formula One cars simulated to have an average speeds in excess of 250 km/h (160 mph), the track will be the second longest on the Formula One calendar.[18] The circuit will be built on the Jeddah Corniche adjoining the Red Sea and was designed by Hermann Tilke.[19][20]

Official names

  • 2021: stc Saudi Arabian Grand Prix[21]

References

  1. ^ Smith, Luke (5 November 2020). "Saudi Arabia announces F1 night race in Jeddah for 2021". Motorsport.com. Retrieved 5 November 2020.
  2. ^ Rencken, Dieter (8 August 2019). "Saudi Arabia plans Spa-beating longest F1 track for first race". RaceFans. Retrieved 5 November 2020.
  3. ^ Noble, Jonathan (17 January 2020). "New Saudi Arabia circuit in Qiddiya could host F1 race from 2023". Autosport. Archived from the original on 24 February 2020. Retrieved 5 November 2020.
  4. ^ Benson, Andrew (17 January 2020). "Saudi Arabia unveils plans for F1 race". BBC Sport. Archived from the original on 11 February 2020. Retrieved 5 November 2020.
  5. ^ Smith, Luke (27 October 2020). "Formula 1 set for 23-race calendar in 2021". Motorsport.com. Archived from the original on 5 November 2020. Retrieved 5 November 2020.
  6. ^ Smith, Luke (30 October 2002). "Formula 1 set for 23-race calendar in 2021". Motor1. Retrieved 5 November 2020.
  7. ^ Mitchell, Scott (5 November 2020). "Formula 1 commits to first Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in 2021". The Race. Retrieved 5 November 2020.
  8. ^ "F1 adds Saudi Arabian Grand Prix night race to 2021 calendar". Formula1.com. 5 November 2020. Retrieved 5 November 2020.
  9. ^ "Saudi Arabian GP on provisional schedule". BBC Sport. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  10. ^ Richards, Giles (5 November 2020). "Human rights groups urge driver action over F1 race in Saudi Arabia". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  11. ^ "Saudi Arabia: Formula 1 Deal Despite Abuses". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
  12. ^ "Saudi F1 race: Activists urge Lewis Hamilton to speak out on human rights". Middle East Eye. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  13. ^ "Human Rights Organizations Call On Lewis Hamilton To Boycott Saudi Arabia Grand Prix". Carscoops. 23 February 2021. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  14. ^ "Saudi Arabia insists F1 grand prix not effort to 'sportswash' image". www.autosport.com. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  15. ^ "Míssil na Arábia Saudita assusta Fórmula E e deixa Fórmula 1 em alerta" (in Portuguese). 28 February 2021. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  16. ^ "Ataque com míssil durante etapa da F-E na Arábia Saudita preocupa F1; entenda" (in Portuguese). 1 March 2021. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  17. ^ "FIA and Formula 1 respond to Saudi Arabia situation". grandprix247.com. 6 March 2021.
  18. ^ "Fastest ever F1 street circuit revealed for Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jeddah". Formula1.com. 18 March 2021. Retrieved 18 March 2021.
  19. ^ "F1 adds Saudi Arabian Grand Prix night race to 2021 calendar". Formula1.com. 5 November 2020. Retrieved 5 November 2020.
  20. ^ Rencken, Dieter; Collantine, Keith (13 November 2020). "Saudi Arabian GP promoter appoints Tilke to design "exciting" Jeddah street circuit". RaceFans. Retrieved 16 November 2020.
  21. ^ "Saudi Arabia". Formula1.com. Formula One World Championship Limited. Retrieved 3 February 2021.