Formula 1 heads to Saudi Arabia for the first time in its history later this year, with the race to be held on what will be the world’s fastest street circuit. Here’s the tale of how the epic and sweeping 27-turn track came together…
Google Earth kicked off the track design process
When it became clear Saudi Arabia were keen on hosting a Grand Prix, Formula 1’s in-house Motorsports team were asked to investigate the feasibility of building a street track in Jeddah, the Kingdom’s second-biggest city by population.
The first port of call was Google Earth, to try and understand the areas around Jeddah that would be suitable. The team spent several days on the satellite imagery mapping tool before mocking up some initial concepts to create simulation models ahead of a site visit.
Saudi hosted the first site visit in 2020
Formula 1 sent a delegation to Saudi Arabia in January 2020, to recce a number of potential sites, and a clear frontrunner emerged very quickly. “The site on the Corniche in Jeddah stood out,” says Ross Brawn, F1 Managing Director, Motorsport. “It’s on the coast, so we have great panorama but more importantly, we’ve been able to build a really exciting street circuit.”
The Corniche area on the Red Sea is located 12km north of Jeddah’s centre. It’s a narrow coastal strip of reclaimed land that is a mixture of asphalt car parks, open spaces and lagoons and will provide a stunning backdrop.
One of the area’s appealing aspects was the long, sweeping roads which the team felt could be mobilised to create a unique street circuit in the short timeframe, with a finished track required for a race in late 2021.