Saudi Arabia open to idea of hosting two F1 races

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia -- Saudi Arabia is open to the possibility of hosting two Formula One races per season in the future, according to chairman of the Saudi Automobile & Motorcycle Federation Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al Faisal.

The third running of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will take place this weekend in Jeddah, but work is already underway on the country's second F1 circuit in Qiddiya.

The Qiddiya circuit, which is part of a wider construction project 40 kilometres from Riyadh, is not expected to be ready for racing until 2027 and was originally earmarked as a replacement for Jeddah. But with two F1 circuits in Saudi Arabia in the future, Prince Khalid said there was the potential for two races per year.

"The idea of having two races in Saudi is doable," Prince Khalid said. "F1 is growing, there is a lot of demand here and because Saudi is big, the regions are so far away, it's like the [United] States.

"You have three races in the States because the market is big there and there is a demand. The demand is there, but the decision is not made.

"There is a lot of things that we need to consider and I don't know if even we want to host two races here, is it practical and feasible for FOM and the teams?

"We built this track [Jeddah] to last, so in theory, yes we can have two races. The sport is growing, the demand is growing, so I would not be surprised if Saudi, in the near future, will host two races, I wouldn't be surprised.

"The demand is there and we have two beautiful facilities."

Asked if Saudi Arabia was engaged in talks with F1 about a second race, he added: "No, it's too early. It's too early but from what I'm seeing, the growth of F1 and also the growth in Saudi Arabia, as I said, we're a very big country, we have the biggest population and the strongest economy.

"There's a lot of things that we need to consider but I'm sure that the people in Saudi Arabia would be happy to have a race in Qiddiya and Jeddah, we can offer two races. Even if that happens, it's going to be two unique races, they are going to be two different unique races, for what I'm seeing and what is planned for Qiddiya.

"So you're going to have two unique venues, different regions, I'm sure if you're going to do it, it's going to be two different... I mean one at the beginning and one at the end. Too early for this, but I wouldn't be surprised."

Saudi Arabia has also been linked to the opening race of the 2024 season in order to avoid a date clash with the month of Ramadan, which will run from March 10 to April 8. Prince Khalid said the timing of F1's opening race next year means either Bahrain or Saudi Arabia will take the slot.

"The problem is we're going to have Ramadan -- Ramadan every year it shifts like 10 days, 11 days earlier," he said. "And one of us, it's either going to be Saudi or Bahrain that can have a race before Ramadan, and after Ramadan, the weather in April and May is hot.

"So March is the last time where the weather is suitable. We saw races used to happen in April in Bahrain, and it was too hot. So it's either going to be us or Bahrain, but as I said, we need to discuss with FOM and the teams, and then we make our decision.

"Otherwise, it will shift to somewhere, I mean, October or after October, where the weather starts to get better in our region."