JEDDAH: The British Consulate in Jeddah recently hosted a special reception to celebrate the inaugural Formula 1 STC Saudi Arabian Grand Prix 2021 that roars into action in the Red Sea port city on Friday.
The event, organized in partnership with the Saudi Motorsport Co., was attended by chairman of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation and SMC, Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal, and SMC chief executive officer, Martin Whitaker, along with senior business and government figures.
The Kingdom’s first female professional racing driver, Reema Juffali, was also among the guests who were treated to a display of some of the best of British engineering and motorsport.
On show at the reception was the legendary Saudia airlines-sponsored 1980 Williams FW07 Formula 1 racing car, reflecting Saudi Arabia’s long relationship with Formula 1. This classic car will be driven each day of the sporting weekend on the new Jeddah Corniche Circuit alongside Aston Martin safety vehicles also featuring at the race meeting.
Speaking at the reception, British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Neil Crompton, said: “The debut of Formula 1 in the Kingdom is another important first for Saudi Arabia. I am delighted to celebrate it here in Jeddah and look forward to watching the race with our Saudi hosts and friends.
“Formula 1 is an industry with deep roots in the UK. With seven out of the 10 F1 teams based in the UK, the event will showcase British innovation and manufacturing excellence on the amazing new Jeddah Corniche Circuit – another great example of the strong collaboration between our two countries.”
British firms are at the forefront of the motorsport industry’s rapid technological innovation. Increasingly, the technology used in the sector is filtering down into the wider automotive sector and other industries such as health and infrastructure.
At the start of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, British Formula 1 teams set up the Project Pitlane initiative to utilize the industry’s manufacturing expertise to support the development of new COVID-19 respiratory devices.
British Consul General Seif Usher, who also attended the Jeddah reception, said: “Formula 1 encapsulates so much of what Vision 2030 is seeking to achieve, bringing world-class technology and creativity to the Kingdom, and boosting efforts to expand the tourism sector in Saudi Arabia.
“The new Saudi Motorsport Co., led by CEO Martin Whitaker, is doing an amazing job to develop the motorsport industry in the Kingdom, building on the successful Saudi UK partnership of KAUST (King Abdullah University of Science and Technology) and the famous F1 racing team McLaren.
“And with millions of global viewers turning on to watch the race on Sunday evening, this is a hugely exciting time for everyone in Saudi Arabia,” he added.
Whitaker said: “It is a real thrill to be here tonight to celebrate the fusion of two cultures with such a passion for all things motorsports. On the eve of the first ever Formula 1 race in Saudi Arabia, it gives me an immense feeling of pride and satisfaction to witness the best of British and Saudi innovation and industry come together to celebrate this remarkable milestone in the Kingdom’s history.
“Formula 1’s deep ties to the UK are well known and form the backbone of this sport. As such, to experience the way the people of Saudi Arabia have so passionately embraced the pinnacle of motorsport gives me great confidence that Formula 1 – and motorsport in general – has found a wonderful new home here.
“I look forward to many more years of fruitful cooperation between both countries,” the CEO added.
The Grand Prix will be held in Jeddah between Dec. 3 and 5, with the drivers set to race around what will be the longest, and fastest, street circuit in Formula 1 history.