Circuit type: Temporary street course
Formula One - and more accurately Bernie Ecclestone - spent many a year chasing the dollars of the oil-rich nations of the Middle East, with races established in both Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. It's with some irony then, that F1 in the post-Bernie era should schedule a race in one of the countries with the longest associations with the sport, Saudi Arabia.
As long ago as the late 1970s, the country had involvement through its sponsorship deals (via the Saudia national airline) with the Williams team. More latterly, Saudi Aramco has become a major sponsor of the sport, so perhaps a venture to the Kingdom was inevitable.
A new purpose-built facility in the city of Qiddiya looked to be the favourite to win the race, with the circuit announced in August 2019. The project was conceived by Test and Training International, a motorsports consultancy headed by former Formula One driver Alexander Wurz. The aim is to create a world-class circuit capable of hosting all FIA categories through to Formula One.
That project is still going ahead, but instead Formula One has turned its attention to a completely different venture. In November 2020 the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was confirmed to be taking place in the city of Jeddah, in collaboration with the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation.
The race, which is scheduled for November 14, 2021, will be a night race and is set to take place on a street circuit in the Jeddah Corniche, the resort area of the city which overlooks the Red Sea. As such, the track is expected to hug the seafront, providing a stunning natural backdrop for the action.
A circuit plan is being drawn up by Hermann Tilke, who was chosen due to the limited time to design and build the necessary infrastructure. Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al Faisal, the president Saudi Arabia's motorsport federation, revealed that 80% of the layout has been finalised,with local authorities working with Ross Brawn, the wider Formula One organisation and Tilke to advance the project. A key goal in the track design will be to create opportunities for overtaking.
Speaking at the launch of the event, Prince Al Faisal said: "Our goal is to make it an exciting and thrilling race. We don't want it to be one of those boring races where there is no overtaking. We host the Formula One because we want to bring excitement.
"We're doing our best to make it an exciting race. It's not only about the scenery or the environment or the sporting events that we're planning to do. For us racing needs to be exciting, needs to be fast.
"At the same time it's a street race so you're not building a track from scratch, we are limited to the things that we can do. But if you see the corniche in Jeddah you're going to have an idea [of the layout]."
Few details of the race or the circuit have yet been revealed, but we'll keep things updated here at RacingCircuits.info as they become known.