Work has officially begun on the street circuit which will host the inaugural Saudi Arabia Grand Prix in December.

At the weekend, Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al Faisal, chairman of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF), officially got things underway by cutting the ribbon to signal the start of construction. Officials are predicting a completion date of mid-November.

“It means a lot,” Prince Khalid told Arab News. “We know Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsports, it’s the biggest event that Saudi Arabia will host. It’s very important for the Kingdom, for our youth, for the sport, for the economy, and for tourism.

“We are preparing ourselves to host the most thrilling and exciting race ever,” he added. “The Jeddah circuit will be amazing. It’s the fastest street circuit, and it’s the longest street circuit.

“Normally, street circuits are a bit boring in terms of racing because of the location, there’s not a lot of changes that can be done, but we are very lucky here in this area of the Corniche. It’s still not developed, so this gave us the opportunity to do a street circuit that is fast and thrilling and exciting, so it’s going to beat Monaco.”

“How many Formula 1 race tracks are on the side of the sea?” added Martin Whitaker, the event’s CEO. “It’s a fantastic location, the community of Jeddah is going to experience something completely different. This will be a real differentiator for F1 racing as well. It’s a great new home for F1.”

Other than the race to complete the facility in time for the race, which takes place on 5 December, there remains the uncertainty over the pandemic, which could see the event take place behind closed doors, or at least with heavily reduced numbers of spectators.

“We have two plans,” said Whitaker. “We’re planning for a race with full spectators, but also, we have a COVID plan as well.”

“With what the Kingdom is doing regarding vaccination, and the progress we are seeing, from here until December I’m sure that a lot of people will be vaccinated,” said Prince Khalid. “And I pray and I hope that the situation will be much better and we’ll be in a position where we can allow our fans to come and enjoy this lovely race with us.”

As work on the Jeddah track gets underway, another permanent facility is under construction in Qiddiya, Riyadh, and is scheduled to host the Saudi Arabia event once completed in a “couple of years”.

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