Saudi Arabia will make its debut on the Formula 1 calendar next year with a night race in November. 

Jeddah, the second-largest city in Saudi Arabia, will host the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. 

It is set to be the penultimate round of the 2021 F1 season, with a provisional date of November 28. 

The race will take place on a street circuit in the city while a new purpose-built track at the Al-Qiddiya entertainment complex is being constructed. The circuit is scheduled to be completed and used from 2023.

The circuit will take place along the banks of the Red Bull, although the final track design has not been decided. Race organisers say it will feature a mixture of long straights and tight corners, with no equivalent track on the calendar.

“We are excited to welcome Saudi Arabia to Formula 1 for the 2021 season and welcome their announcement following speculation in recent days,” said Chase Carey, Chairman and CEO of Formula 1.

“Saudi Arabia is a country that is rapidly becoming a hub for sports and entertainment with many major events taking place there in recent years and we are very pleased that Formula 1 will be racing there from next season.

“The region is hugely important to us and with 70% of the population of Saudi being under 30 we are excited about the potential to reach new fans and bring our existing fans around the world exciting racing from an incredible and historic location. We will be publishing our full provisional 2021 calendar in the coming weeks and this will be submitted to the World Motor Sport Council for approval.”



According to a first draft schedule sent to teams, F1 is set to stage a record-breaking 23-race calendar in 2021, featuring two triple-headers and at least one new race - one of which will be the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after confirmation came on Thursday.

F1 is likely to face criticism of the decision to race in Saudi Arabia due to a backlash over the country’s human rights record.  

Human rights organisation Amnesty International has already released a statement condemning plans for a race in Saudi Arabia, warning it would be “part of ongoing efforts to sports-wash the country’s abysmal human rights record”. 

At the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, F1 team bosses said they hoped presence in the country could have a positive impact. 

“I think that sport, wherever it is, whatever it is, I think it’s always positive,” Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said. “I think sport is a positive message, always. Sports may bring positivity.

“So I think that’s the way we should see it. I think we should simply understand that we can be a vector of positivity and that’s important." 

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff added: "I think sport should unite, sport should help to get us to a better place. 

"I think we’ve seen that us racing globally there was a positive discussion around Formula 1, and I’ve been in Riyadh for Formula E a year ago and I was impressed by the change that I’ve seen. 

"Now, as a visitor you never know how things are going but what I’ve seen personally - and that’s the only comment I can make because I saw it - is it was a great event with no segregation, women and men in the same place enjoying the sporting event. 

"We need to start somewhere, and what I’ve seen is that it started somewhere and I believe that we should do whatever we can to make the world a better place.”

The 2021 F1 calendar is expected to include returns for long-established races in Australia, China, Monaco, Japan and Canada, as well as featuring a debut race in Vietnam and the postponed comeback of the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort. 

 

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