Saudi Arabia appoints F1 veteran to design 2021 Jeddah race circuit

Hermann Tilke, who has designed a number of Formula 1 race circuits around the world; is working with Saudi Arabia ahead of the Gulf kingdom’s F1 debut next year.

According to industry website RaceFans; which quoted Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al Faisal Al Saud; the president Saudi Arabia’s motorsport federation, Tilke will design the street circuit in Jeddah; which will hold a night race as the penultimate round on the F1 calendar next November.

Prince Khalid said the federation had chosen Tilke because of the limited time available to complete the circuit.

Tilke (pictured below) has designed the likes of Sepang International Circuit, Bahrain International Circuit and Shanghai International Circuit; Istanbul Park Racing Circuit, Valencia Street Circuit, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Yas Marina Circuit, Korea International Circuit and the Buddh International Circuit.

“Given the time that we have, we found out that the best option for us is to go directly with Tilke,” Prince Khalid said. “We need to work very fast and it’s something a street circuit; it’s not like a new project starting from scratch so we wanted to bring someone that has experience both in the street circuit races.”

He was quoted as saying the track layout is “80 percent set”, adding: “We don’t want it to be just another race. We wanted to do something special; we want it to be a different race, we want it to be the best race. So working closely with Formula 1 and Tilke and having our beautiful corniche in Jeddah I can promise you it’s going to stand out.”

In detail; the circuit will be based around the corniche on the seafront of Saudi Arabia’s second-biggest city.

“I can tell you it’s not going to be a slow race. Our goal is to make it exciting, thrilling with a lot of overtaking. We like seeing the event in Monaco; it’s a lovely event, but in terms of racing, there’s no overtaking, it’s not that exciting.”

He additionally said that Saudi Arabi is keen to be one of eight races in 2021 to host the all-women’s championship W Series. “I would love to see a race or host them in Saudi Arabia. I know there are eight rounds and hopefully we’ll be one of the lucky countries in order to host them in Saudi Arabia;” he told RaceFans.

Markedly sport in Saudi Arabia has exploded in the past two years with iconic events taking place on the football pitch, on the tennis court and in the boxing ring.

From staging the Middle East’s first Formula E races; including Saudi female drivers competing for the first time on home soil; to successfully staging the Dakar Rally, the crown jewels of motorsport have found a new home in the kingdom.

In an interview with Arabian Business earlier this month; Prince Khalid said hosting an F1 race in 2021 was “the cherry on the top”.

“By bringing these events to Saudi firstly we offer something to our people, and we open up to the world, we invite the people to come see who we are; to see our country, to come race in our Saudi desert,” he said.

“It is not just hosting a race, it is something more than that; it is thinking about the future and taking the right steps; that will help us achieve our goals and offering the best to our community.”