Saudi Arabia has put up its hand as a potential alternate Formula 1 venue in the covid-marred 2021 season.
The first-ever Jeddah street race is already scheduled to take place in early December – just a fortnight after the re-scheduled and now cancelled Australian GP was due to happen.
Qatar and Bahrain have indicated that they could step in, but it may make more sense for Formula 1 to simply do a back-to-back double in Saudi Arabia instead.
“We have not yet received a request from Formula 1 to organise a second race, but we are perfectly on track with our preparations,” Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al Faisal, a Saudi royal and provincial governor, is quoted by the Belgian news agency Sporza.
Some may scold F1 for considering a second race in Saudi Arabia, where the kingdom has been accused of using Formula 1 to ‘sportswash’ human rights abuses.
But F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali plays down those concerns.
“We believe in going to certain countries that are showing that they want to change in the future,” he told GQ magazine.
“We also don’t want to be involved in politics. Instead of talking about the negative things, we should be discussing the positive things that F1 can make happen.”