The Arab influence in Formula 1 is gaining momentum  

Formula 1 loves the races on the Arabian Peninsula. The reasons for this are clear: stable weather, great hospitality, a love of racing and lots of money – F1’s management has never needed more arguments. This is also why the Bahrain Grand Prix has been held for 16 years now. It was followed by the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2009. This year the announced Saudi Arabia Grand Prix joined the list and rather surprisingly Qatar was added as the fourth F1 race in the Middle East.

Lewis Hamilton siegte beim ersten Grand Prix von Saudi-Arabien

A convincing plus point is that the races are usually very well organized. In Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), the organisers had a spectacular track built in just eight months, which was only completed just before the first day of practice, but then ensured an attractive race in which Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton pushed each other off the track several times and even collided. As a result, the Jeddah Formula 1 venue catapulted into the hearts of fans with the inaugural Saudi Arabian GP. The ultra-fast street circuit has set standards that will not soon be surpassed in other countries.

Background: There is strong competition between the individual Arab countries – that’s why those responsible in Abu Dhabi extended the contract for another ten years at the beginning of December. Until 2030, the finale of the F1 season will be held in the United Arab Emirates on Yas Island. And Bahrain is speculating it will also host the season opener in future years, while in Saudi Arabia the F1 race is set to find its final home at a new circuit near the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh from 2024. Remarkable: The spectacular Jeddah circuit is only considered an „impressive temporary facility“.

And Qatar? The emirate of Qatar stepped in at short notice this year for the cancelled Australian Grand Prix. The F1 company FOM was so grateful for the offer and the financial resources it freed up that Qatar was given a ten-year contract – starting in 2023 after the 2022 World Cup. Probably on a new street circuit, as the current Losail circuit is a motorcycle track and only of limited use for F1. Once the Saudi Arabia GP moves to the new permanent circuit, it would then probably be Qatar’s new street circuit that would be responsible for the wild street battles we saw in Jeddah in early December.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hermann Tilke,  Architekt und Entwickler von Formel-1-Rennstrecken, im Gespräch mit DIE AUTOSEITEN. Er konzipierte auch den neuen Stadtkurs in Jeddah.

Imposanter Blick auf den Formel-1-Stadtkurs in Jeddah

The influence of the Arabs continues to grow away from the venues as well: The Saudi sovereign wealth fund Aramco has been Formula One’s biggest sponsor since 2020, the Bahraini sovereign wealth fund has owned a large part of the McLaren team for years and Mohammed Ben Sulayem (59) from the United Arab Emirates now has the chance to be elected as Jean Todt’s successor as FIA president.

Mohammed Ben Sulayem is a real racer and will of course make sure that racing becomes more and more important in his home region – the promotion of young talent is particularly important to him in this context. The commitments of the Arab sponsors offer good conditions in this respect. Therefore, nobody should be surprised if young drivers from the Emirates or Saudi Arabia appear in Formula 3 in the coming years and try to advance to the highest class of motorsport. Background: In China, it’s been a long road from the first Chinese Grand Prix in 2004 to now. But from 2022, Guanyu Zhou will be the first Chinese to start in Formula 1 with the Alfa-Romeo-Sauber team, and finding a fast Arab should take less time, as the Middle East is traditionally car-crazy and financially strong enough to afford fast cars. Anyone who has ever been on the highway between Dubai and Abu Dhabi or looked around the parking lots of the top hotels in Abu Dhabi can see that for themselves.