Chloe Targett-Adams, F1’s head of race promotions, stated that the Grand Prix is part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 strategy, which is a programme to reduce its dependence on oil reserves and invest in other areas.
We can already see the first race on the calendar: on December 5th the race will be held on a street circuit in Jeddah. This format will be present for a couple of years to be later moved to a purpose-built venue at Qiddiya in 2023, according to Motorsport.com.
In a Blackbook web seminar, Targett-Adams declared that, in terms of Saudi Arabia, it was fantastic to have been able to get the deal agreed, signed and announced during the pandemic.
“It's somewhere we're really excited about going racing, and it's a longer-term vision of how we want to build our sport in the Middle East.
“We've got two amazing partners in the Middle East already on the promotion side, with Abu Dhabi and Bahrain, both long-term relationships, incredibly successful.
“And so, to bring on a new Middle Eastern race in a location like Saudi with a hugely young demographic, vast population, interest in the motorsport and automotive sector, and the ability then as a market to tap into Northern Africa and other aspects of the Middle East, provides a really interesting framework for F1.
She also said this year’s temporary street circuit is also coming into shape already, which is no easy task during a global pandemic, so the Saudi team are doing a phenomenal job.
When she was asked about the duration of the race in the calendar, she stated that they were looking at least a decade, if not longer.
“Saudi, given their 2030 vision, what they're looking to achieve, their objectives, that longer-term investment made sense for how they want to build F1 and motorsport interest within the country.
“And you look at some of the initiatives that the country is doing currently, and obviously it's an education process on both sides.
“But it's a fascinating country, and the culture and how we relate to that is, is an area that we're looking forward to really, really working together with the promoter on.”
But this deal, to race in Saudi Arabia, has led supporters, viewers and fans to question the human rights issues in the country and wondering if Formula 1 had them in mind when signing. Targett-Adams insists that the sport indeed addresses the subject when deals are on the table with new venues, she said that for them it is really important to ask that question.
“From F1's perspective, we choose to engage with partners. And we have a framework contractually to set out our expectations on human rights and how we expect to work, and our staff expect to work and be treated.
“And we have good engagement with our promoters and their government stakeholders on that on those requirements.
“So it's something that we actively lean into and learn and educate ourselves about that culture and custom and work with our promoters as it relates to our F1 event.”