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F1 plays down concern over pace of Saudi circuit construction

09 November 2021 - 16:06 By Reuters
The city streets of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, will host a night F1 grand prix in December.
The city streets of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, will host a night F1 grand prix in December.
Image: Osama Mansour / 123rf

Formula One's governing body has said it is confident Saudi Arabia will be ready for its grand prix debut next month after media reports highlighted the amount of track work still to be completed.

The floodlit night race along the Red Sea shore in Jeddah is scheduled for December 5 as the penultimate round of the championship.

Depending on results in Brazil and Qatar, Saudi Arabia could be a title decider between Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton. Verstappen leads Hamilton by 19 points with four races remaining.

“The FIA and F1 are getting daily updates of where things are at and it's progressing very, very quickly,” FIA race director Michael Masi told reporters after last weekend's Mexico City Grand Prix.

“I think everyone will acknowledge there's a lot to do but still confident of the race going ahead, no problems.”

The Australian said he had visited Jeddah a few weeks ago and his past experience of new races in South Korea (in 2010) and India (2011), both now off the calendar, gave him confidence.

“Both of those went off, no problems at all, and I'm quite confident that Saudi will be exactly the same,” he said.

The Jeddah Corniche layout has been billed as the world's fastest street circuit, with drivers expected to reach average speeds of 250km/h and top speeds of 322km/h.

Featuring 27 corners over 6.175km, it will be the second-longest circuit on the calendar after Belgium's Spa-Francorchamps.

Masi said he had no concerns about the core elements being ready and in compliance with every safety requirement, and he would likely head there between the Brazil and Qatar races to take a look.

“They will finish, I have confidence,” he said.