Saudi Arabia will attempt to entice F1teams to set up their headquarters in their futuristic project, Neon city. The president of the Saudi Automotive and Motorcycling federation claimed this week, “We want to create a hub,” said Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al Faisal.
“We have big companies that can help the future of motor sport.
Saudi’s to entice F1 teams to Neom
“This is what we are hoping for and this is what we are working for. Hopefully we can bring one of the big manufacturers.
“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.”
The Prince reveals the Saudi Royal family have backed a 20 year programme which will kick off late 2023 or early 2024.
“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 interest in buying F1
However, it appears the Saudi’s have even greater ambitions for Formula One. Bloomberg reported last year that the Saudi investment fund (PFI) expressed an interest in acquiring Formula One from Liberty Media who bought the commercial rights to F1 in 2017 for £3.55bn.
With interest in F1 booming in recent years and the stock trading price having doubled in 4 years, Liberty media believed there would be a better price to be achieved further down the line.
Lewis Hamilton questioned the country’s Human Rights record when arriving for the debut event in Jeddah held in 2021 despite receiving a “warm welcome from the people on the ground”.
Hamilton questions Saudi human rights
He continued, “We are duty-bound to make sure that we try to help raise awareness for certain issues that we’ve seen, particularly human rights in these countries that we’re going to.
“I can’t pretend to be the most knowledgeable and have the deepest of understanding of someone that has grown up in the community here that is heavily affected by certain rules and the regime. Do I feel comfortable here? I wouldn’t say I do, but it’s not my choice to be here. The sport has taken the choice to be here.”
Saudi Arabia is following in the wake of Qatar who recently hosted the FIFA world cup event creating a global platform to showcase the middle eastern country. The Saudi PFI bought the premier league club Newcastle United as well as ensuring Christiano Ronaldo became the world’s highest paid [player when he joined Saudi based club, Al Nassar
Saudi F1 buyout a non-story
However, pitpass.com believes the Saudi story is a non-starter. They claim the PFI’s interest in buying F1 was merely “a little sniff but nothing more.”
They argue that senior figures at the Saudi wealth fund were not even aware of the interest shown in F1 by those “lower down the food chain” who believed that by buying the sport and returning Bernie Ecclestone to the helm significant value could be added.
Given the lack of quotable sources over the story, the natural conclusion is this story is in fact a non-event and there will be no return to visions of Bernie Ecclestone muttering his half sentence nonsense to Martin Brundle on the Sky F1 grid walk.
Toto Wolff: Fernando Alonso is one of the 3 best ever drivers in F1. The other twos are Lewis and Schumacher pic.twitter.com/MstRGUv5uF
— Aston Martin F1 updates (@startonpole) January 20, 2023