The Arab region wants it all. There is motorcycle racing in Qatar, even Formula 1, and they staged the FIFA World Cup last year. A Saudi team confirmed that football legend Cristiano Ronaldo, in addition to that, Saudi Arabia also hosts Formula 1 and Formula E races, and the Dakar Rally is also held there. But apart from the Arabs, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates also have Formula One races.
However, this is not sufficient. Saudi Arabia wants to be a powerhouse in motorsports and to rival the United Kingdom, which is now home to most Formula 1 teams.
Saudi Arabia is looking to attract Formula 1 teams and their staff from Britain to the Middle East as it begins work on a major motorsport hub. It is also understood that McLaren and Aston Martin are in the crossfire, with the kingdom owning stakes in both brands.
Saudi Arabia is a minority shareholder of the McLaren Group, the parent company of McLaren Racing, and the second largest shareholder of street car manufacturer Aston Martin, which sponsors the Formula 1 team, as well as Saudi oil company Aramco.
The kingdom’s motorsport chief said he hoped it would lead to teams moving to Saudi Arabia, which plans to overtake Britain in the next 15 years. The last region of the Midlands and Oxfordshire is home to seven of the ten Formula 1 teams and 4,300 suppliers who support all forms of motorsport.
Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Faisal, president of the Saudi Federation of Automobiles and Motorcycles, which runs motorsport in the Kingdom, wants to use his country’s oil wealth to copy the model to encourage teams to settle there and build Saudi expertise, which is the ultimate goal and creativity. National teams and train Saudi F1 champions.
“We want to create a center,” A. said for motorsports. “We have great companies that can help the future of motorsport.”
Regarding the transfer of the Formula 1 team, he added: “This is what we hope and are working on. We hope that we can bring in one of the major manufacturers.”
“With all the investing we’re doing in cars – the private equity fund has bought shares in McLaren and Aston Martin – we’re moving in that direction.”
At the same time, McLaren has signed a 20-year lease for its Woking headquarters in 2021, while Aston Martin will open its new factory this year.
According to their hopes, Saudi Arabia will also be able to stage a WRC tour in 2024.
But the Arab country will not stop even after the competitions. They also want to train their own specialists.
“We have a 20-year program that we hope will start in late ’23 and early ’24,” he said. “Our goal is not just to host international events, but we want to be more involved. We want engineers and mechanics to build cars, we want to be innovative.”
“We really want a champion, a rider who can compete in Formula 1, who can also compete in MotoGP. We invest a lot in infrastructure, in building tracks in Saudi Arabia. We want to build academies to be more involved in: Saudi teams with Saudi riders or other riders competing in teams. We still have a long way to go, but we hope that we can achieve our goals by 2030, 2035 and 2040.”
Prince Khalid also said that Saudi Arabia’s great, carbon-neutral artificial city of NEOM would host a motorsports hub, where teams are being pushed to relocate. According to the plans, Oxagon, an innovation campus, will also be part of this, as McLaren has already announced that it will open an office as a co-founder.
But for now, many people doubt that the fully sustainable synthetic city can be built, as the technology planned for it is still waiting to be developed. And if it is built, is there really a need for motorsports of this scale in the region?
the Dakar Rally participant Carlos Sainz Nasser Al-Attiyah also noted that there were few spectators on the road.
When asked about the news, McLaren referred to its previous announcement that it was working with Neom. However, it is understood that the company is committed to remaining in Woking.
Saudi Arabia is building a futuristic city in the desert that is powered by clean energy and free of cars and roads
“Wannabe writer. Passionate troublemaker. Award-winning beer buff. Freelance organizer. Friendly tv practitioner. Music maven.”