Saudi Arabia is looking to bring Formula 1 racing teams to the region, with its sights set on McLaren and Aston Martin to relocate their headquarters to the kingdom.
Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al-Faisal, president of the Saudi Automobile and Motor Federation reportedly wants to compete with Britain by becoming a major motor racing hub and hosting some of the top F1 teams. Currently, Britain is home to seven of the 10 F1 teams.
“We have big companies that can help the future of motorsport,” he said in conversation with Motor Sport.
Asked if he would see a F1 team move to the Middle East, he replied: “This is what we are hoping for and this is what we are working for.”
“With all the investing we are doing in cars — the private investment fund bought shares in McLaren and Aston Martin — we are heading that way. Hopefully, we can open and bring headquarters to Saudi Arabia,” he added.
Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) currently holds stakes in the parent organisations of both McLaren and Aston Martin. The PIF is the second-largest stakeholder in the Aston Martin road car firm.
The report added that Saudi Arabia’s futuristic smart city, Neom which is the flagship project of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s Vision2030, is where the motor sport hub would be based, which would include the “Oxagon” campus where McLaren, as a founding tenant, would have an office.
“Hopefully we can open and bring headquarters to Saudi Arabia or we hire people that can help us manufacture cars or technology, to create our own brands and have our own IPs [intellectual property rights],” the prince was quoted as saying.
“We have a 20-year programme that hopefully will launch at the end of ’23, early ’24.”
“Our aim is not just to host international events, we want to be involved more. We want to have engineers, we want to have mechanics, we want to build cars, we want to be creative.”
Saudi Arabia already has a long-term deal to host a Grand Prix in Jeddah, along with the Forumla E and Extreme E races while MotoGP could debut in the kingdom next year. The country is also hosting this year’s Dakar Rally event, the fourth to be held there.