Formula 1 is expected to hold more races at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit than was originally planned before the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix changes venues.
F1 has a long-term deal to race in Saudi Arabia. The eventual destination of the event is a purpose-built venue in a new entertainment centre known as Qiddiya, 40 kilometres outside the capital Riyadh.
“We’re all waiting now what’s happening with Qiddiya because, as you know, the contract for a grand prix in Saudi Arabia is for 15 years,” Whitaker explained. “The majority of those years will see it taking place in Qiddiya.
“Qiddiya at the moment is effectively in the planning stage, there’s no track there, there’s no buildings there or nothing to speak of anyway. So there’s a lot of work to go now.”
Jeddah “is a fantastic circuit and it’s difficult to sometimes forget that it is a temporary facility,” said Whitaker. “So in a sense the majority of the buildings will come down or are due to come down after the racing is completed.”
The Qiddiya circuit will be part of a sprawling entertainment complex. Ambitious plans have been revealed for a track which would be the longest in F1 and pass beneath a rollercoaster.
“We would continue to be the promoter for the Qiddiya race,” said Whitaker. “I think the agreement with Formula 1 is very clearly that when Formula 1 moves to Qiddiya it is a fully-blown Formula 1 circuit with all the right environment around it.”
The timeframe for the move from Jeddah to Qiddiya has been extended, Whitaker believes. “I suspect the original plan was for it to be in Jeddah for three years, I suspect that it will probably be there for probably another two years to allow Qiddiya to properly mature.”
“But at the same time, the circuit is very much part of the community in Jeddah,” he added. “And obviously, we want to use it as a going concern.
“So we have a lot of events that are interested in coming together. We also have a lot of local events, as you would expect some corporate events, product launches, community events, charity events, et cetera. and we’ve already started to run those.”
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2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
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