Saudi Arabia is preparing to host its first Grand Prix this weekend to mark the start of an ambitious 20-year plan to create the kingdom’s own squad, future world champion and automaker.
The penultimate race of the F1 season, on December 5, will transform Jeddah, a city on the Red Sea, into the world’s fastest street circuit, while a race track is already under construction for future events at Qiddiya in Riyadh.
It’s one of the closest title races in years with Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen swapping races and beards as they try to win the pilots’ crown, which ends in the Etihad Airways Grand Prix d ‘Abu Dhabi, December 12, and Saudi Arabia. will play a key role in who will claim the honors.
Prince Khalid bin Al Faisal, president of the Saudi Arabian Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, has revealed that the centerpiece of Jeddah is just the start of huge investments and pioneering projects in the Kingdom.
“What you are seeing now is only five percent of what Saudi Arabia is forecasting,” Prince Khalid said. The National. âWe are working to build a new generation of drivers who will join the biggest sporting events and win championships.
âI want to see the Saudis not only as drivers, but also as mechanics, and a Saudi manufacturing company that creates and exports parts and technology to other countries in the future. We want to have a Saudi team, a Saudi champion, a Saudi mechanic, Saudi engineers, we want to make cars in the Kingdom.
The prince said motorsport experts across the country “are working on a 20-year program that requires a lot of investment, time and patience.”
Qiddiya Motorsports City, slated for completion by 2026, will have more than 25 tracks for bikes, drag races, rallies and more. Prince Khalid said the country was “very lucky to have Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman” to develop a sporting future, and the current generation of children are already being nurtured in motorsport by the Ministry of Education .
âThen we can take this generation, train them and let them run in karting and put them in single-seater in F3 and F4. By the time they are 18 or 20, we hope to have them racing in MotorGP or Formula 1, âhe said.
âI’m proud of the team and our people, especially events like these which will have a big impact over the next 10 to 20 years. We want to see this generation racing not only in Saudi Arabia, but also in Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Qatar. “
He said the kingdom’s ambitions include creating “everything from marshals to medical teams, pilots, journalists – anything to do with motorsport.”
He said the country’s biggest source of investment to make Saudi dreams come true came from its people rather than the country’s wealth.
“The mentality in Saudi Arabia is passionate, they are motivated, enthusiastic and ambitious. Everyone wants to prove themselves and prove what they can give to their country. We are blessed,” he added.
âThe best resource is not oil, but the people of Saudi Arabia. It’s the mentality of the people. “
Prince Khalid said the changes in the kingdom have created “new and equal opportunities for Saudis, not just men but also women”.
âThe next chapter involves a lot of investment in infrastructure – including technology, because it’s a fast sport,â he said. âWe have to provide security. We have the manpower, management and government support. We have created Saudi Motorsports, which will focus on sales, marketing and sponsorship activities.
âEveryone has seen how Saudi Arabia has changed over the past 3-4 years due to the belief of King Salman, who supported the Crown Prince, who with his vision changed the country in all sectors.
âHe has helped support motorsport, building state-of-the-art facilities with investments and focusing on the future. Vision 2030 fuels us and drives us to achieve all of our goals. F1 is not just about sport and entertainment, it creates jobs and opportunities for men and women. Hosting the event allows us to introduce Saudi Arabia to the world, as a people, and to be part of the change is an honor. “
Updated: November 29, 2021, 7:04 am