Formula 1 has confirmed that it will add a new race in Saudi Arabia to its 2021 calendar.
The inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will take place in Jeddah in November 2021 and will feature a night race under the lights and through the city streets
The race is the first to feature as part of a long-term partnership between Formula 1 and the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation and will take place in Jeddah’s corniche area, which runs along the banks of the Red Sea, providing a coastal backdrop for the event.
Human rights groups have voiced condemnation at the move, citing Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, which Amnesty International describes as ‘heinous’.
“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, 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.”
Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki AlFaisal Al Saud, the Saudi Minister of Sport added: “Saudi Arabia is accelerating forward and the speed, energy, excitement of Formula 1 perfectly reflects the transformational journey the country is on. As we’ve witnessed in recent years our people want to be at the very heart of the biggest moments in live sport and entertainment. And they don’t come any bigger than Formula 1.
“No matter where in the world it’s held, Formula 1 is an event that brings people together to celebrate an occasion that goes far beyond sport. We look forward to sharing this unique experience and sharing Jeddah with the world. For many Saudis this will be a dream come true.”
The news comes after F1 announced Saudi Aramco as a new Global Partner in March of this year.